The Witches (1990) – Blu-ray Review

The Witches is a 1990 dark fantasy comedy film that was directed by Nicolas Roeg and stars Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher, and is based on the 1983 children’s novel of the same title by Roald Dahl.  As in the original novel, the story features evil witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, and a boy and his grandmother need to find a way to foil and destroy them.

The film was produced by Jim Henson Productions for Lorimar Film Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. as the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar, before the company ultimately closed its doors in 1993.  The film was well-received by film critics, but performed poorly at the box office, and was also disliked by Dahl because its ending differs from the book.  Making its premiere on May 25, 1990, in London, The Witches was also scheduled to open the same day in the United States, but following Florida test screenings earlier that year, Warner Bros. delayed the American release until August.

The Film Itself (4/5):

The Witches is a movie that I’ve only really heard anything about through discussions on the internet or in passing with people I know. Having heard stories about how some of my colleagues were terrified by this movie during their youth, you could say that I was intrigued and interested at the same time. The movie as a whole is pretty enjoyable. Having a solid storyline, and a solid performance from Anjelica Huston, my wife and I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely understandable why the younger audience members might get frightened by this movie, so if you’re considering watching it, I would definitely recommend waiting until the kids are either in bed or spending the night at a friends house.

Picture Quality (4.75/5):

Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, courtesy of Warner Archive, the Blu-ray release of The Witches looked absolutely phenomenal as my wife and I watched along. Featuring a beautifully done new 2K scan, the details and textures of the display really pop. Giving audience members an opportunity to appreciate the costume design and various effects that were used, we were extremely impressed with this release. As you would expect from Warner Archive, they did an absolutely phenomenal job with this release.

Audio Quality (4.75/5):

Packaged with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, the Blu-ray release of The Witches testifies to a significant amount of detail from the earlier mastered Dolby Stereo track. While there really isn’t a ton of gratuitous sound to be used in the movie, the track on this release is the clearest you could imagine with a release like this. The transitions between the channels were effortless and smooth, despite the small number of channels that are being used as a whole. Dialogue is spoken cleanly, and the characters are able to be heard and understood without any issues whatsoever.

The Packaging (3/5):

The Witches comes packaged in the standard single-disc Blu-ray amaray case.  In that case, the Blu-ray disc, featuring the same piece of artwork that’s been included on the case.  There are no DVD copies nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets included.  There are no slipcovers available for this release.

Special Features (1/5):

I’m not surprised with the lack of special features that came with The Witches since Warner Archive isn’t too notorious for including supplemental material. That said, included with this release is:

  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Specs:

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (35.00 Mbps)

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles

English SDH

Runtime

Original Film: 92 Minutes

Final Thoughts:

Overall, my wife and I really enjoyed The Witches as we had only both heard of this movie in passing and really didn’t know what to expect. The experience was fun, and there was a good bit of pieces that we didn’t see coming. The audio and video presentation of this release are superb and offer an extremely clean look into the film. Special features, as usual, left a lot to be asked for; but, I’m not going to complain too much since I went into this release not expecting much. If you’re looking to add this release to your collection, I would definitely recommend picking it up. “The Witches” is available on Blu-ray today.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.