As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, many of us are starting to get into the spooky spirit of fall. And we all know nothing says fall like a spooky witch film! Here are our favorites.
Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Starting the list strong is one of the sexiest, but no less spooky, films about witches and the granting of their deepest, darkest desires. It’s basically the Hocus Pocus of witchy movies for grownups.
Three unfulfilled former wives in the town of Eastwick long for contentment, and a charming man with concealed intentions rocks up to their doors, ready to rock their worlds. With a star-studded cast composed of Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and even Cher, make this witchy tale an easy yearly rewatch.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
Just because witches are scary doesn’t mean kids can’t be frightened by them, too, albeit more moderately. An adaptation of CS Lewis’ classic series, this film completely freezes us in time. It transports adults and children alike through a magical wardrobe to an enchanting kingdom.
In one of Tilda Swinton’s best performances, an actress no stranger to outperforming herself, the first installment in the Chronicles of Narnia film series spooked an entire generation. The film defined the meaning of ‘don’t trust strangers,’ even if they have Turkish delights. But trusting lions? Go ahead.
The Crucible (1996)
We know what you’re thinking; there weren’t actually any witches in Salem, where the infamous witch trials occurred. But 1996’s The Crucible is just plain old creepy. It almost creates the impression that witches may actually plague the town. Instead, mass hysteria is the only spell Salem suffers from.
Winona Ryder plays a more malicious Abigail Williams opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as heroine John Proctor, who vows to thwart Abigail’s false witness against the entire town and his wife. While the label of ‘witch’ is a harmless insult, The Crucible transports us to a time when such an accusation meant a terrible fate.
The Witch (2015)
While The Crucible is Puritan America without witches, Robert Egger’s The Witch is rural 17th-century Massachusetts with witches running, or better yet flying, around the woods. Not for the faint of heart, this film’s creepiness will seep into your fingernails and make you glance behind your shoulder.
A corrupt English settler and his poor family are forced to leave their Puritan settlement and find a new home in the East Coast woods. Family members slowly start to disappear, and before long, Satan himself pervades the family’s home. The film is Anya Taylor-Joy’s breakout role as seemingly the only voice of common sense.
Into the Woods (2014)
An adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale musical masterpiece, Into the Woods, brought in a new audience of unlikely musical theatre lovers by combining witches and the subversion of expectations. A fantastical take on an amalgamation of classic fairytales, but no less perfect for a fall watch.
Who else could play the Witch other than Meryl Streep? She earned her 19th Oscar nomination for her role, and rightfully so. A character often considered one of the most difficult to portray, Meryl made it look easy. This interconnected fairytale is an iconic take on what we ought to expect and what we actually get.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Horror films are often dismissed and tossed under the rug regarding critical contention; they’re considered unserious or too grave. However, Rosemary’s Baby redefined the idea of deeper messaging behind spooky films. A film with a coven of witches trying to manipulate a new mother could be scary and have complex meanings.
In legendary actress Mia Farrow’s first leading role, she stunned audiences with her performance as a rightfully paranoid mother. She likely scared off people from parenthood for the next few years. Rosemary’s Baby summoned a new obsession with witches and demons, and we haven’t stopped consuming it since.
Susan Sarandon loves playing witches, and we hope she never stops because her flirty, spooky, and bewitching performances are absolutely consuming. And there is no better example of this than 2007’s Enchanted. This mix of animation, live-action, witches, and the search for true love can tickle anyone’s fancy.
The evil Queen Narissa decides to cast out her son’s ‘one true love’ from an animated haven into the real world to retain her power. Giselle is forced to find her Prince in a city that seems absent of the beauty she has known. However, despite the wicked Queen’s plan, Giselle learns to love even more than before.
A family drama turned horror film with a coven of naked witches disguised as sweet elderly folk; sign us right up. This is another entry we would only recommend to movie watchers who don’t mind a jump scare or two. On top of witches, Hereditary features decapitated heads, sacrifice, possessions, and seances. What’s not to love!
Specifically, there are eight jump scares in the film, according to Where’s The Jump. However, it’s not the quick jolts that terrify us; the seemingly never-ending feeling that something horrible is about to happen makes this witch film special. Toni Collette stars as a grieving mother trying to keep her family intact.
Dark Shadows (2012)
Tim Burton is no stranger to the supernatural, creepy, or fantastical. And there is no better example of his personal style than that of Dark Shadows. The stylistically unique film is a vengeful tale of a jealous witch who puts a man-turned-vampire into a 200-year slumber to torture him and murder his one true love.
Likened to a soap opera for witches, the deadpan humor, parodied pastiche, and unbridled lust make this film particularly special. Thanks to Burton's genius mind, it is unlike any movie we have ever seen. Johnny Depp stars as the vampire awakened from bicentennial sleep, with Eva Green as his sorceress nemesis.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
A found footage film, The Blair Witch Project follows film students in the Maryland woods attempting to create a documentary about the myth of Blair Witch, a mysterious woman whose “feet never touch the ground.” Gradually, the group realizes their mission will be the end of them, and with every second, their hope disappears.
Not only is The Blair Witch Project uniquely terrifying, but it was also produced on a low-budget, scale and production quality to maximum effect. Almost entirely improvised and filmed primarily on a camcorder, this film felt too real to some watchers. For those who can stomach horror, it is the perfect Halloween film.
Practical Magic (1998)
Witch films seem to suffer from a bad case of right movie, wrong time, and this couldn’t be truer for Practical Magic. Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock star as sisters with magical powers suffering from a tricentennial family curse; they can never fall in love. While one sister embraces her powers, the other dismisses hers.
The sisters may have powers but are powerless against the curse they inherited. It is an allegory for generational expectations that affect us years after it even began. Since its cult classic label, fans have struggled with the internal debate: Am I more like Gillian or Sally?
Mirror Mirror (2012)
Snow White is a classic tale of love against all costs, but who watches it for that? The evil Queen and her wicked ambition to remain the fairest of them all keep us revisiting this centuries-old tale. However, 2012’s modern spin, Mirror Mirror, was precisely the shake-up this timeless story needed.
Julia Roberts plays the enchantress Queen, but she is by no means ugly. Glamorous, dressed to impress, and viciously witty, it’s hard not to root for the villain this time. Even her magic mirror is fabulous, and don’t even get us started on the costumes she wears. Some witches really are to die for.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Do you really think we would make a witch movie list with the witch movie? Amok, amok, amok! The beloved 1993 Disney film follows three sister witches who accidentally resurrect a teenage boy on Halloween night and then set out to suck the souls of all the children in Salem.
The Sanderson sisters, played by the strongest trio ever to be seen on screen, comprised of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, are impossible to look away from. While the film wasn’t initially successful, much like Mariah Carey’s seasonal single, Hocus Pocus re-emerges from its yearly slumber every fall.
Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
After 19 years of patiently waiting and desperate demands, Disney finally delivered on their promised sequel to the iconic film. In 2022, the follow up to the beloved 1993 film Hocus Pocus finally arrived on Disney+, and it really made us forget the last almost 20 years just flew by.
The original Sanderson sisters are back and better than ever, and they are joined by a slew of new faces, including Hannah Waddingham and Doug Jones. While we miss Omri Katz’s reappearance as Max, this hotly anticipated sequel kept us Halloween lovers satisfied for another 19 years.
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Studio Ghibli is the perfect remedy to improve a grey, rainy day. And it’s hard to go wrong with any of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces. However, for the sake of this list, Kiki’s Delivery Service scratches our itch perfectly. The story focuses on balancing independence and expecting things to fall on our laps.
Having gained the ability to fly, young witch Kiki moves to a new town and must find a way to support herself. With just a broom and ambition, Kiki starts a delivery business and transports pastries to the people of Koriko. Delightful, sweet, and enchanting, Kiki is one of the most magical movies to watch.
Nanny McPhee (2005)
Witches are often defined by their allure and ability to reel unsuspecting naiveties into their wicked spell. Witches are generally seductive, tempting, and absolutely irresistible. One of the few exceptions is Nanny McPhee; she has a unibrow, gargantuan nose, moles, and one overhanging tooth.
Sent to the countryside in Victorian Britain, Nanny McPhee is hired by a helpless dad to discipline a family of seven difficult children in their mother's absence. With each lesson the children learn, Nanny McPhee's appearance improves. This film is charming for any adult and may teach naughty kids a lesson or two.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Yet another classic that some of the '90s kids (okay, maybe most of them) are guilty of binging every year when the leaves start to fall. The Nightmare Before Christmas just seems to be the perfect flick for spooky szn, and the obsession with Halloween Town seems to be never-ending...
So much so, in fact, that Disney has announced it will be re-releasing the fantasy film this year in celebration of its 30th anniversary! Fans of the iconic movie will be able to see it on the big screen once again this October - be sure not to miss it!
The anti-horror gang can breathe a sigh of relief as this next entry leans far more into comedy. A film about the remake of the beloved 60s series Bewitched, Nicole Kidman stars as a witch pretending to be an actress and playing a witch. It’s multiple layers of meta, but no less charming and magical.
Will Ferrell, who plays opposite Nicole in the film and the fake TV show, suspects she is hiding secrets. While the film was poorly received then, it has since become a cult classic. Each year, fans of the original series and spooky season lovers rewatch the iconic romcom and wriggle their noses with magic delight.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
It’s been around so long that it has been parodied, rehashed, sequeled, prequeled, and flipped upside down; this movie needs no introduction. 1939’s The Wizard of Oz was the film that brought color to people’s screens for the first time. However, just as importantly, it gave us two of the most memorable witches ever presented on screen.
Margaret Hamilton and Billie Burke, playing the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch, respectively, presented the balance between good and evil. Since the original film, many takes on the classic dynamic have twisted the narrative we have come to know. Dated, but still loveable.
The 1959 Disney film Sleeping Beauty simplifies the classic fairytale into good versus evil, and it’s not hard to imagine why. An evil and jealous fairy, Maleficent, curses the young and beautiful Aurora. But, the 2014 film that follows the supposed ‘Mistress of All Evil’ teaches us that the story is not all it’s cut out to be.
Instead of a simple evil witch, Maleficent is complex, layered, and almost justified in her actions following a betrayal from her childhood friend and the future king. Played by the wickedly talented Angelina Jolie with the highest cheekbones humanity has ever seen, Maleficent must do what she can simply to survive.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch has been re-adapted and re-adapted since the depths of time. However, there is no rendition quite like the 1996 TV film starring the best Sabrina, Melissa Joan Hart, and Ryan Reynolds as the cutest boy in Riverdale. There's apple picking, Halloween parties, and magic - the perfect fall watch.
The TV film was the precursor to the late 90s series, and thank our aunts, people liked it because we wouldn't have the TV series today without the film's success. We will never understand why mean girl Katie had such a distaste for Sabrina. Still, thanks to Sabrina's powers, anything is possible.
Set in the gloomy atmosphere of Berlin in the fall of the 1970s, Suspiria gnaws at our brains long after the credits roll. You are in for a treat for those who can stomach a horror film about a dance college controlled by a coven of witches. For those of us that are normal, it’s best to sleep with the lights on after.
In a career-defining three-part role, Tilda Swinton dominates the 2018 film. However, don’t underestimate the quiet performance of the lime-loving Dakota Johnson. While she spends the first two acts taking in her mysterious surroundings, Dakota takes control of the narrative in the end and hammers home the final, terrifying act.
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Who doesn’t like a Young Adult SciFi book adaptation? Well, the 2010s were full of them, and one of our favorites is the underrated Beautiful Creatures. Based on the 2009 novel, the film follows a boy’s fascination with a young witch, Lena, and her coming-of-age ceremony in a tiny Southern town.
Instead of being witches with pure intentions, Lena’s family are self-proclaimed “devil-worshippers.” You can imagine how this attitude would float in a small town of very religious folk. The tension arises from a countdown to Lena’s 16th birthday, which will decide whether she is claimed as ‘light’ or ‘dark.’
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
What is better than two kids with magical powers, a billionaire attempting to exploit their abilities, a cross-country car escape, and an angry man who decides to put his bitterness to good use? It really is a winning formula, which is why the premise of Escape to Witch Mountain has been readapted time and time again.
However, the original film has always sustained our attention. This film is a Disney production with thrills, twists, turns, and a shocking revelation about the two magical children at the center of the drama. Not only are twins Tia and Tony completely adorable, but they also steal the show in this fun-packed, magical affair.
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
What comes to mind when you think of a place that most feels like fall? For us, Scotland reeks of autumnal energy in the best way. And given Macbeth is set in medieval Scotland with three witches and their foretelling powers, our favorite adaptation of the classic story deserves a place on this list.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is less about the powers of magical foresight and instead about the looming threat of avoiding an undesired fate, but this is still witchy enough to be a perfect choice for Halloween viewing. Although there are three witches, Kathryn Hunter stars as the trio and aces the singularity of every one of them.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
In a world where 20th-century design and old magic intertwine, even a witch's curse can change one young hatmaker's life. Hayao Miyazaki strikes again, and not for the last time, in this enchanting, soft word-building story. We're not the first to switch on a Studio Ghibli film for comfort watching during fall.
Not only is this one of the best magical animated stories, but it is also Miyazaki's favorite piece of work. He explained, "I wanted to convey the message that life is worth living, and I don't think that's changed." The film may be about overcoming a curse, but at its core, it is about love, compassion, and the beauty of aging.
Matilda (1996) & Matilda the Musical (2022)
This next entry on our list is double, simply because both adaptations of Roald Dahl’s universally adored book Matilda are too whimsical to ignore. For starters, the first film adaptation in 1996 may have commercially failed. Still, it certainly made a warranted comeback once it reached VHS.
While the 2022 rendition is instead a portrayal of the musical version of the book, it is no less fantastical. One difference between the two movies is that Matilda has stronger powers in the 1996 film but more agency in the 2022 film. As for the superior movie, we’ll leave that to Gens Z, Y, and X to battle it out.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks follows three orphaned children evacuated from London during the Blitz. Together, they use their magic to travel to the mythical land of Naboombu, where they must find the missing ingredient to a spell that will defeat the Germans. With music, magic, and wicked 70s effects, what’s not to love?
Sure, the concept is a little dated and has strong political messaging, but what movie doesn’t? The magical kids escaping the Blitz sounds like the first installment of the Narnia film, but it’s no less enjoyable. Funnily, production was delayed for years as studios thought it was too similar to Mary Poppins.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
A magical autumnal forest, seven dwarves cursed by an evil witch, a young girl with powers to heal and talk to animals, and, most importantly, a poisonous apple that puts any unlucky biter into an eternal slumber - unless the magic of a true love’s kiss can break the spell. Snow White is the OG magic story.
In 1937, Disney’s film adaptation of the classic story changed the animation game. Not only is this a nostalgic rewatch for any fan of love, magic, and princesses, but this can be enjoyed with little children, too. For those not attending all-night dress-up parties, rest early and easy with a viewing of the timeless tale.
Spirited Away (2001)
We did warn you it wouldn’t be the last time a Studio Ghibli film made its way on our list, but can you blame us? In most Miyazaki films, magic is the heart of the story. And that is no less present in Spirited Away. In more soft worldbuilding, Chihiro must save her parents from a witch’s curse in a faraway spirit land.
Often considered the strongest of his films, the 2001 hit blew audiences away with its unique spells and divinations. Even though Chihiro lacks any supernatural abilities, she learns her strength and independence and overcomes her situation and initial fear of change through kindness and generosity.
Would we leave off the masterpiece to end all masterpieces off our list of magical films to watch in the fall? You were sorely mistaken. Although it has been parodied to the ends of the galaxy, Twilight has cemented itself as an enjoyable, autumnal watch for any lover of pumpkin, spice, and all things nice.
Sure, it’s a little gloomy and overly sappy, but fans keep returning to this vampire flick for a reason. It has all the core elements of a hit: a love triangle set in high school, a neglectful dad, and a century-old boyfriend that lurks in the shadows. Laugh all you want; this turned its leads into overnight superstars.