Witch movies

The Best Witch Movies of all Time, Ranked

Okay, I know this one isn’t usually considered a witch movie, but hear me out! The Wicker Man, starring Christopher Lee, tells the story of a stuffy detective who travels to a private island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once he’s there, he finds the residents of the island strangely indifferent to the girl’s fate and hostile to his investigation. He also discovers a thriving fertility cult led by Lord Summerisle (Lee), complete with folk magic, hobby horses, and ritual dances in the nude. Although no one in the movie calls themselves a witch, many of the rituals and spells come from real British folklore and survive to this day in some witchcraft traditions.

13 Underrated Witchy Movies Perfect for the Halloween Season

O ctober is the month for witchy movies, and maybe this year, you’re craving something offbeat and intense, filled with forests of gnarled trees, crafty familiars, and spells that deliver potent justice. Let’s watch witches inhabiting their bodies with deliberate, life-changing magics.

Films about witches span all genres, from every type of horror to comedies like Hocus Pocus, and romantic thrillers, like Practical Magic. In movies, depictions of witches have historically engaged in tropes that cast them as evil, destructive, old, ugly, and sexually deviant, among other negative qualities. Witchcraft is also often thought of as solely supernatural: witches can do things like shoot lightning bolts from their hands or bend objects to their will. Black cats talking and flying broomsticks are typical hallmarks.

But alongside popular movies featuring witches are a crop of films that portray the many different kinds of witches that have always existed in culture. The natural witch, in contrast to the more supernatural kind, could be a kind herbalist dwelling in a forest cottage, who trades midwife skills for fresh eggs, or someone who knows when the storms are coming and dresses her garden scarecrows in ragged black clothes. Though typically less scary than the supernatural witch, the natural witch, examined in recent films like Hellbender, You Won’t Be Alone, and She Will, is formidable all the same.

There are also teenage witches, notably portrayed in 1997’s cult hit The Craft, who have been cultural icons since the 1950s. Miranda Corcoran, author of Witchcraft and Adolescence in American Popular Culture says narratives about teen witches grew at the time in a reflection of cultural shifts. “The teenage witch is an archetype created in the period just after World War II—just as the teenager was emerging as a new social demographic,” she tells TIME. “Initially, the teen witch functioned as a trope that allowed adults to express their anxieties about adolescent girlhood.” This evolved, she says, and their “magical abilities and metamorphic potential empowered young women to explore their own fears, insecurities, hopes and desires.”

Films also explore witches of middle age, mining that taboo territory when women transform from mother to crone, reaching a period of their lives when society at large rejects them for no longer being fertile or desirable.

The films below look at the many ways witches permeate culture: with benevolence and malevolence, as outsiders and edge-dwellers, as rebels, wise-women, seductresses, healers, and figures of mystery.

The Love Witch

Anna Biller’s 2016 tour de force of visual style is steeped in 1970s imagery and sensibilities, with a flawless “ABC Movie of the Week” vibe. The film relishes the sexually-manipulative deeds of its spellcasting sorceress (played by Samantha Robinson), who does it all for love, but leaves a trail of mayhem in her wake.

You Won’t Be Alone

Set in Macedonia in the 18th century, this 2022 Sundance premiere is director Goran Stolevski’s debut. The birth of a baby girl named Nevena prompts a frightening legendary figure, Old Maid Maria, to visit her mother and demand the baby’s blood for sustenance. The mother begs and convinces Old Maid Maria to wait until the girl is 16-years-old, and hides Nevena in a cave to keep her safe. Played by Macedonian actress Sara Klimoska, Nevena has a feral animal beauty and grace, and knows almost nothing of the world of humans. She becomes a witch via a brief but bloody initiation (coming of age witch narratives nearly always engage with menstrual metaphors). As she matures, she is played by various actors including Noomi Rapace and Alice Englert. Nevena learns by shapeshifting: entering the bodies of people and animals, and, in breathy voiceover, shares her insights and reactions. English subtitles reflect her dreamy, poetic naturespeak. In stunning, beautiful scenes, this film explores the phenomenon of being human, and how it is shaped by circumstances and cultural expectations.


A blood initiation also gives the teenage witch at the center of Hellbender proof of her true nature. Izzy (Zelda Adams) lives with her mother (Toby Poser) in a forest in the Catskills. They pass the time hiking, foraging for dinner, and performing heavy metal songs in their basement as the band “Hellbender.” Izzy’s mom homeschools her, saying she has an infectious disease, but when Izzy runs into a local girl, she makes a new friend. Izzy’s desire to have a social life is met with fear, and her mother’s ambiguous rules start to fall apart as Izzy grows and asks more questions. Izzy is eager to learn more about her powers, annoyed that her mother has kept her in the dark about her origins. “We thoroughly enjoyed thinking about witchcraft and then trying to forget everything we might ‘know’ of it. We are very interested in the nature-based, elemental, magical slant,” Poser (also a director, writer and producer in this small family film-making collective) tells TIME. “Once Izzy discovers her true and unapologetic nature, she rejects Mother’s denial of hers.”

Eventually, the tables turn and Izzy understands she may actually be the more powerful witch. There is also a sense of triumph for disenfranchised teens: they can create a unique identity, maybe even become one of the “cool kids,” just by being themselves. That edgy outsider energy is compelling, and Izzy, who starts out somewhat shy and afraid of the wider world, blooms, becoming confident and charismatic. This low-budget indie is wildly original and impressive.

Lux Æterna

In Gaspar Noé’s 2019 film, French actors Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg play themselves, giving this unusual film a metacinematic vibe. The first half finds Béatrice and Charlotte sitting around talking the night before they are set to shoot a film about witches that Béatrice is directing. Béatrice has played a witch many more times than Charlotte, and she offers her sage wisdom on how to handle scenes where they’re being burned at the stake. The next morning, everything devolves into chaos. Producers try to sabotage Béatrice’s authority, pushy pseudo-journalists invade the set, and there are serious safety concerns. Noé, ever the provocateur, dedicates the film to male directors who have made films about witches (Pasolini, Polanski, Dreyer, etc.), perhaps missing the point somewhat. But Dalle and Gainsbourg are brilliant playing two actors whose workday unravels in a cacophony of anger, fire, and screams.

She Will

In Charlotte Colbert’s 2021 film, Alice Krige delivers a powerful performance as Veronica Ghent, an aging film actor whose recent surgery has irrevocably altered her perception of her own beauty and vitality. Expecting a solitary retreat in the Scottish forest, Veronica, recovering from a double mastectomy with the help of her caregiver (Kota Eberhardt), must endure a gaggle of guests who are attending a sort of mindfulness seminar with a self-styled guru (Rupert Everett). Events transpire which seem to unleash the pent-up pain and anger of the witches killed long ago: the metaphor is all too familiar to contemporary women. The witch as crone, as hag, as old woman who has outlived her sexual usefulness, is the stereotype lurking in the shadows of this moving story of confronting one’s legacy and mortality in a world beguiled by youth.

Season of the Witch

Also known as Hungry Wives, George Romero’s underseen and undersung 1973 film portrays women’s sexual liberation and personal empowerment via witchcraft. It’s a topical send-up of pop psychology and the post-1960s occult revival, complete with a superb montage to Donovan’s vibey title track, where the main character, an unhappy suburban housewife, visits a witchcraft shop in Manhattan.

The Lords of Salem

Rob Zombie’s 2012 film is a stylish, spooky tale of a radio DJ (Sherri Moon Zombie) who becomes haunted by the demonic forces lurking in her building.

The Sisterhood of Night

Caryn Waechter’s 2015 film of Marilyn Fu’s screenplay adaptation of a 1994 short story by Stephen Millhauser is a compelling coming of age story tinged with the energy and imagery of Salem Village’s atmosphere of bullying and grandstanding. A secret girls’ club said to be practicing witchcraft in the woods becomes a target for persecution.


Written and directed by and starring Quinn Shephard, this 2017 film centers on a high school production of The Crucible and a lonely student (Shephard) whose close relationship to her drama teacher (Chris Messina) spawns ugly rumors.

Hagazussa (A Heathen’s Curse)

Intriguingly visionary and disturbingly violent at times, this German-Austrian film follows a loner shepherdess who experiences persecution as a witch in her 15th century Alpine village. It’s a subtle story with an earthy, haunting tone.

I Am Not a Witch

A child accused of witchcraft and ostracized by her village in Zambia is then made into a minor celebrity and exploited. There is humor, social satire and shocking pathos in this award-winning 2017 debut film from Rungano Nyoni.

Eyes of Fire

This unusual story (written and directed by Avery Crouse in 1983) explores the superstitious atmosphere pervading Colonial North America in the 19th century. A charismatic preacher leads his followers across the frontier and into a disturbing realm of pagan visions and madness in one of the few folk horror films about witches released during the 1980s.

The Blood on Satan’s Claw

This 1971 film by Piers Haggard is considered one of the genre-defining works of folk horror cinema. It’s a chilling tale of a cult-like craze that overtakes a group of children in a 17th century English village who decide to invoke the evil spirits of the land.

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The Best Witch Movies of all Time, Ranked

Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True in The Craft (1996)

In the mood for a good witchy movie? Whether you’re looking for horror, comedy, romance, or something that crosses genre, here are the top 15 witch movies of all time, ranked.

What makes films about witches so compelling? Maybe it’s the mysticore aesthetic, with characters gathering around candles, tarot cards, and handmade amulets while incense smoke wafts around them. Maybe it’s the feminist rebellion inherent to witchcraft, which allows marginalized people to rise up against the patriarchy to forge their own lives and identities. Or maybe it’s wish fulfillment for viewers who secretly wish they could psychically shove the guy who sexually assaulted them out of a third story window.

Whatever the draw is, witchcraft itself has enjoyed a revival in recent years. Pagan traditions like Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, and devotional polytheism are flourishing, with in-person and online communities exploring new ways to venerate nature, bring myths to life, and make magic together. Celebrity witches like Pam Grossman and Amanda Yates Garcia have revitalized the arts of astrology, tarot, and ritual, ushering in a new generation of witches. It’s a good time to be a witch, and there’s plenty of cinema to help us celebrate being witchy.

A quick note on the ranking. Although witches in real life are a diverse bunch, most Hollywood witches—with a few notable exceptions—have tended to be white. Partly this is just because the word “witch” comes from Britain, and different magic practitioners around the world have their own terms for what a white English speaker might call a witch. Mostly, though, it’s because Hollywood itself is still way too white. Hopefully, as more witchy movies come out, this list and others like it will become more diverse.

With that said, onto the movies!

15. Hocus Pocus (1993)


It’s hard to find a witch who doesn’t put on Hocus Pocus around Halloween. In 17th century Salem, a coven of witches called the Sanderson sisters is put to death for sucking the life out of the town’s children, but the oldest sister Winifred (Bette Midler) issues a curse, saying that the sisters will be resurrected if someone lights the black flame candle in their home on Halloween night. That’s precisely what happens 300 years later, when a bunch of kids unwittingly unleash the sisters. Although the movie revolves around the kids trying to banish Winifred and her sisters, it’s hard not to root for the witches, since they’re by far the most interesting characters. Watch this movie (and its sequel!) if you like your witchcraft extra cheesy.

14. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wicked Witch of the West

I’m pretty sure I’d get turned into a toad if I didn’t include The Wizard of Oz, one of Hollywood’s most beloved portrayals of witches. The Wizard of Oz gives us two unforgettable witches: Glinda, the cotton-candy-esque Good Witch of the North, and the Wicked Witch of the West, played by the inimitable Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton’s performance cemented the Wicked Witch’s place in witchy history, helping to inspire Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked and its Broadway phenomenon.

13. Häxan (1922)

A black and white devil figure in Haxan.

This silent Swedish film from the ’20s explores medieval ideas of witches and witchcraft, with witches flocking to the Sabbat, feasting on babies, and kissing Satan’s behind. Taking material from the notorious witch-hunting manual Malleus Maleficarum, along with historical records of the witch hunts and Inquisition, Häxan is an incisive look at the misogyny and paranoia that fueled one of the darkest chapters in European history.

12. The Old Ways (2020)

Luz stands against a dark background in The Old Ways. She

Cristina, a young journalist living in the U.S., travels to her hometown near Veracruz, Mexico to research a story she’s writing about witchcraft. However, Cristina is soon kidnapped and held prisoner by the people of the village. Why? They believe that Cristina has been possessed by a demon, and Luz, the local bruja, wants to exorcise it. Check this movie out if you’re looking for slow-burn folk horror.

11. Suspiria (1977)

Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion in

The classic horror film Suspiria tells the story of Suzy, a young American ballet student who travels to Germany to study ballet. However, Suz’s education takes a terrifying turn when she discovers that the dance school is actually a front for a coven performing ritual murders. You can also check out the 2018 remake with Tilda Swinton.

10. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

A filmmaker is terrified in

Sometimes, you want a witch movie that features a witch as a charismatic protagonist. Other times, you want a movie that has a witch as a faceless, unspeakable evil! If that’s the case, then The Blair Witch Project is the witch movie for you. Three documentary filmmakers enter the forests of New England to search for the infamous Blair Witch, a spirit that is allegedly lurking around. The small independent movie became a smash hit and sparked a new era of “found footage” horror.

9. She Will (2021)

Veronica and Desi walk through the woods in She Will.

She Will focuses on Veronica, a former film star who attends a retreat after getting a double mastectomy. However, the retreat is held on the site of medieval witch burnings, and Veronica finds that the ashes of the women who were tortured and killed give her the power to get revenge against the people who have harmed her. This psychological horror film is a potent meditation on vengeance in the era of the #MeToo movement.

8. The Wicker Man (1973)

Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) stands in front of the wicker man.

Okay, I know this one isn’t usually considered a witch movie, but hear me out! The Wicker Man, starring Christopher Lee, tells the story of a stuffy detective who travels to a private island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once he’s there, he finds the residents of the island strangely indifferent to the girl’s fate and hostile to his investigation. He also discovers a thriving fertility cult led by Lord Summerisle (Lee), complete with folk magic, hobby horses, and ritual dances in the nude. Although no one in the movie calls themselves a witch, many of the rituals and spells come from real British folklore and survive to this day in some witchcraft traditions.

7. Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

Kim Novak holds a cat in Bell, Book and Candle.

Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) owns a shop in Greenwich Village, which serves as a front for her witchcraft. When Gillian meets mild-mannered Shep (Jimmy Stewart), she decides to cast a love spell on him, not least because he’s engaged to her old rival. However, Gillian runs into trouble when she starts to develop genuine feelings for Shep. Not only does falling in love with him complicate things emotionally—it means that she’ll lose her powers. Novak and Stewart are adorable in this 50’s comedy classic.

6. Practical Magic (1998)

stockard channing and dianne wiest in practical magic, standing in flowing clothing in their house.

Sally and Gillian Owens (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) are part of the Owens clan, a long line of witches who live under a terrible curse: anyone they fall in love with will die. After Sally witnesses the power of the curse firsthand, she decides that she’ll never fall in love again, and it takes the teamwork of Gillian, their witchy old aunts, and Sally’s two daughters to break the curse for good. Based on the novel by Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic is warm, funny, and full of heart.

5. Eve’s Bayou (1997)

Still image from the movie Eve

Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett) is a 19-year-old girl living with her family in 1960’s Louisiana. When Eve catches her father having sex with a family friend, the family starts to unravel, until a shocking revelation about her father’s continuing infidelity leads Eve to seek the help of a Hoodoo practitioner named Mozelle. This southern gothic film, starring Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Kasi Lemmons, is as much a psychological study as it is an exploration of Hoodoo magic and divination.

4. The Love Witch (2016)

Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch (2016)

Watching this hallucinogenic movie, you’ll swear up and down that it was made in the 60s. The young and beautiful Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) is, by her own admission, “addicted to love,” and when normal flirting fails her, she turns to witchcraft to get men to fall in love with her. She moves to a picturesque village (the movie was filmed in rural Arcata, California) and goes to town on all the men there, enticing them into what turn into fatal encounters. Elaine and her fellow witches also treat the viewer to some real Gardnerian and Alexandrian rituals, since director Anna Biller did her research beforehand.

3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki rides on a broom at night, holding her arm out.

Kiki is a 13-year-old witch in training, and when witches turn 13, they get on their brooms and fly off for a year of solo training in the magical arts. Leaving at midnight on a full moon, Kiki and her sardonic black cat Gigi fly to a picturesque city by the sea, where she starts an airborne delivery service and makes some lifelong friends along the way.

One of Hiyao Miyazaki’s most beloved movies, Kiki’s Delivery Service has something for everyone: adults, kids, witches, and non-witches. Kiki and Gigi are an absolutely adorable duo, the plot is heartwarming without being treacly, and Kiki’s mom’s kitchen is the apothecary every witch wishes they had.

2. The Witch (2015)

Thomasin talking to Black Phillip

A puritan family in 17th century New England decides to leave their plantation and strike out on their own, living a pious Christian lifestyle on a homestead in the middle of the forest. After the family’s baby vanishes, though, they grow more and more paranoid that witches are lurking in the woods, and gradually turn on their teenage daughter, Thomasin.

Based on real New England folktales, The Witch will scratch that itch for spooky rustic folklore and good ol’ fashioned Devil worship (which, despite what someone might tell you after they’ve been Wiccan for ten seconds, has historically been part of some streams of witchcraft). Plus, the film has a weird kind of happy ending, which is gorgeously shot and surprisingly feminist.

1. The Craft (1996)

nancy in The Craft

Are you even really a witchy media lover if you haven’t seen The Craft? This 1996 cult classic tells the story of a group of teenage girls attending a Catholic school in Los Angeles. When newcomer Sarah joins their clique, she finds out that they’re witches attempting to form a coven so that they can activate their latent magical powers. At first, the girls use their magic to get back on the various racists and misogynists making their lives miserable, but the coven starts to turn on each other when their powers get out of control.

I’ve been to a fair number of occult shops in my day, but none of them have ever been as exquisite as Lirio’s candle-filled store in The Craft. Really, every detail in this movie is lovingly rendered: Sarah’s crumbling mansion, the dappled woodland where the girls work their first spell as a coven, the beachside ritual where Nancy invokes the spirit, and more. The filmmakers hired a Pagan consultant to help them with the girls’ spells and liturgy, which is why their rituals sound beautiful enough to actually perform in person. Also, the cast and crew had some paranormal experiences while on set, including all the lights going out during the climax of Nancy’s invocation on the beach, so clearly some spirit out there lent a little magic to this film.

What’s your favorite witchy film? What movie do you put on to satisfy your craving for magic, spirits, and candlelit rituals? Let us know in the comments!

(image: Columbia Pictures)