Newest Reviews
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Hands of Orlac, The
Death has Blue Eyes
Kala Azar
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
Dinner in America
Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes
PG: Psycho Goreman
Sound of Metal
Things of Life, The
Auschwitz Escape, The
Jungle Fever
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Newest Articles
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
  Worst Witch, The Growing up isn't easy
Year: 1986
Director: Robert Young
Stars: Fairuza Balk, Diana Rigg, Charlotte Rae, Tim Curry, Sabina Franklyn, Su Elliot, Danielle Batchelor, Anna Kipling, Kate Buckley, Leila Marr, Liz May-Brice, Katrina Heath, Tara Stevenson, Laura Heath, Sophie Cook
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Before Harry Potter there was Mildred Hubble, hapless spell-casting heroine of the popular children’s books by writer and illustrator Jill Murphy. In the late nineties, Murphy’s books were adapted into a long-running TV series, but first reached the screen in this campy mid-eighties one-off Halloween special. Poor little Mildred (Fairuza Balk - fresh off her cult classic Return to Oz (1985)) isn’t much good at casting spells or flying her broomstick and subsequently, is having a difficult first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Young Witches. Confusing a laughter potion with an invisibility one, Mildred and best friend Maud Warlock earn the enmity of strict schoolmistress Mrs. Hardbroom (Diana Rigg), but while kindly Miss Cackle (sitcom regular Charlotte Rae) keeps giving her another chance, the worst witch can’t seem to get anything right.

The whole school is abuzz that the Grand Wizard (Tim Curry) will attend their forthcoming Halloween festivities. Mildred miraculously wins a place on the school’s flying formation team, but nasty know-it-all Ethel Hallow (Anna Kipling) sabotages her broomstick. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cackle’s evil twin Agatha (Rae again, sporting a hideous pink wig and inexplicable Alabama accent) and her coven of wicked witches are lurking in the woods, plotting to take over the school.

Bonnie Langford sings the theme song, written by Charles Strouse and Don Black, because they passed a law in mid-seventies Britain stating that all children’s television for the next ten years must involve her in some way. The rest of the synthesizer led songs composed by Dennis King are cheesier than a platter of gorgonzola, particularly the clunky pop number Tim Curry croons before some sub-MTV video backgrounds. “Anything can happen on Halloween! Your dentist could turn into a queen!” Come again, Tim?

This wears the tacky, shot-on-video look of Eighties’ children’s TV that somehow seems less vibrant than anything from the Sixties and Seventies. Nevertheless, The Worst Witch depicts school bullying and ritual humiliation far more effectively than Harry Potter. While Harry is a dab hand at wizardry and has virtually the whole Hogwarts’ staff kissing his ass, clumsy, well-intentioned Mildred fails at almost everything she tries, as classmates and teachers prove more hindrance than help. Yet she always picks herself up and tries again, ennobled by a hugely endearing performance from Fairuza Balk.

Robert Young went on to Brit comedies like Splitting Heirs (1992) and Fierce Creatures (1996), but earlier helmed offbeat Hammer horror Vampire Circus (1971). Which might explain why Curry’s slightly seedy sorcerer recalls that film’s creepy Count Mitterhouse whenever he leers at the young witches. Remember when Tim Curry was a heartthrob? No, neither do I, but every little girl here inexplicably fancies the Grand Wizard. Well, as curious crushes go, it’s better than lusting after Simon Le Bon, although Curry does play him like an Eighties rock star. A handful of set-pieces foreshadow the Harry Potter films, with the video generated flying effects inevitably dated, but acceptable on the small screen. Youngsters will probably lament the absence of spell fights or monster action, but this passes the time amiably. The subsequent television series was far more popular, by which time sweet Fairuza Balk had morphed into scary Fairuza Balk, playing a very different witch in The Craft (1996). Strangely, you still found yourself rooting for her.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 7759 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: