Watch This While High: "The Worst Witch"

If you grew up in the 80s, you may remember seeing some of the weirdest/best fantasy pictures ever, all purportedly for children but all insanely screwed up.

Oct 31, 2011 at 4:00pm | Leave a comment

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Since Actual Halloween is on a Monday this year, those of us dressing up like Jesse from “Breaking Bad” and adding unnecessary “yo”-s and “bitch”-es to the end of declarative sentences in public probably already did it on Friday or Saturday.

That's sad! You'd never have a family Christmas on the wrong day because you didn't want to be eggnog hungover at work the morning after. So don't let Monday pass without some sort of Halloween observance. Why not enjoy a holiday film from the 1980s, the golden age of  Well This Looks Like a Good Movie to Show a Kid?

If you grew up in that era, you may remember seeing some of the weirdest/best fantasy pictures ever, all purportedly for children but all insanely screwed up. (See: "Return to Oz," "The Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth," "The Boy Who Could Fly," "Monster Squad," and "The Last Unicorn.") It was a time when playgrounds were still rusted scrap metal torture devices specifically designed to break tiny collarbones, and the "Parents Television Council" was a white-mascara-wearing babysitter who parked you in front of "Tales From the Crypt" while she tied up your landline phone and stole your dad's mixed berry Bartles and Jaymes.

The apogee of the creepy Surrealism for Kids genre is also my favorite Halloween movie of all time: I’m talking about a little made for TV movie called "The Worst Witch" (based on the British children’s series by Jill Murphy).

"The Worst Witch" stars "Return to Oz"'s very own Fairuza Balk as Mildred Hubble, a student at a witch academy in Britain (SOUND FAMILIAR?) who just can’t do anything right. She can’t fly her broom properly, her potions suck, everybody hates her except her cat, Tabby…she’s going to turn into Stephen King’s "Carrie," someday. Or you know, that crazy bitch from "The Craft."

The budget is low. The music is synthesized. The special effects: borderline outsider art.

This tour de force also stars "The Facts of Life"'s Charlotte Rae, who plays both the kindly dean of students AND her evil-witch twin (Mrs. Garret: the original "Ringer").

The evil twin one wants to ruin Miss Cackle's International Academy for Witches (yup). Lady Diana Rigg, better known to most as the designer from "The Great Muppet Caper" plays the Severus Snape at Miss Cackle’s and is making life for Mildred a living hell.

But I saved the best for last, my boyfrannnn Tim Curry, super fey and creepy as the teen idol (hahha) “Grand Wizard.”  He performs this AH-MAZING number for the school, because it was  the 80s, and every movie had to include an ersatz pop star. I won't even write out any of the lyrics to "Anything Can Happen on Halloween," which sounds like the title of lesbian-themed Hermione-Cho Chang fan fiction. Rest assured that they are both stultifying and nonsensical.



Please Netflix this Halloween classic today. Chill some vodka, invite your girlfriends over and hold your head in your hands and swoon as the clown from "IT" plays an occult Liberace in front of an old Gateway screen saver.

Happy Halloween!