Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oooohoooh...Witchy Woman....

What is the fascination with supernatural vixens in movies?  Over the course of many years we've seen the woman as the magical manipulator of men in films like Bell, Book, and Candle, Hocus Pocus, Fright Night: Part II, and Practical Magic.  Some have called this sexist, on one hand they have a point.  The woman in these films is commonly wicked, is trying to seduce and/or kill the lead male, and uses passive-agressive tactics to get what she wants.  Many critics say that these familiar manipulatory actions simply reinforce the idea that the woman has no power except through her sex and through making a man think he has the upper hand.  Others would say that this portrayal of the woman comes from the male fear of being manipulated into unwanted situations (like marriage), so therefore the woman is a predator waiting to trap unsuspecting men.  Either way, it paints the woman as a villain...however, people still love films like these and enjoy seeing the women get the upper hand in a situation...even if it means resorting to manipulation.  Regardless of these prejudices, some of these films are really hard to not enjoy.  One of my favorites was on television last week when we were visiting my grandmother, and Mom and I had a fun time watching it before hitting the hay.  It features three fabulous 80s women and one "horny little devil" dive in and enjoy this summary of The Witches of Eastwick.

Alex (Cher), Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Jane (Susan Sarandon) are three recently divorced women coping with daily life in the small town of Eastwick, Rhode Island.  They enjoy the small town atmosphere but hate the pius and self-righteous attitude of several of the citizens such as Walter Neff (Keith Jochim) and Felicia Alden (Veronica Cartwright), so the tend to keep to themselves and hang out only with each other.  Also, unbeknownst to themselves, they appear to be manifesting supernatural powers that increase in potency when they are around one another (the first such instance being when they manage to 'rain out' Walter's opening speech).  On a rainy night, they collectively wish for the perfect man...someone mysterious, someone sexy and funny, and someone you could talk to...and suddenly a strange enigmatic man arrives in Eastwick and moves into the ancient mansion on the hill.  After several days of trying to find out the name of the man (no one in town seems to be able to remember his name) they finally meet the mysterious Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) who proceeds to seduce each woman based on her personal likes and dislikes and makes each of them learn to use their powers to the fullest extent.  Little do the ladies realize that something much more sinister is going on.

This film contains those standard witchy stereotypes...the magical powers, the sexuality, and even the coy tricks...however it rises above the stereotypes as well by having Daryl as the villain, seducing the women in order to use their power for his own enjoyment rather than the women trying to use him for their own gain.  Also, the women learn over the course of the story that they are just as powerful as a group of women as they are when a man is around...therefore learning to be independent without him.  There's also quite a bit of weirdness in this story too, for those who enjoy special effects pictures and horror...Veronica Cartwright has a particularly 'gut churning' scene that is unforgettable.  Some of you more learned readers may be already waiting to leave comments along the lines of..."Hey, why didn't you mention John Updike?? For shame!"  Well yes, its true that Mr. Updike wrote the book upon witch The Witches of Eastwick is based and yes, the main characters' names came from it...but the similarity largely stop there.  That's not to say that you shouldn't read the book of "Eastwick", but just don't expect the same experience that one gets from the movie (ditto if you've read the book and are just now getting to the film).  However, despite the film being a poor adaptation, it is a fun and smart romp that showcases the wonderful talents of Cher, Michelle, and Susan.  Oh, and Nicholson's Daryl is a scene stealing marvel that simply must be seen.  There's a reason we love to keep watching him from film to film...he's amazing.  So, enjoy the trailer below and check it out if you get the chance.

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