Movies & TV Shows

15 Scary Movies That Actually Get Witches Right

The figure of the witch is one of the most sinister and frightening ever conjured by the human imagination. She (and, more rarely, he) always seems to lurk at the corners of the collective consciousness, a receptacle for everyone’s greatest fears.


Witches have also made several appearances in films of various types. While some appearances have been more for comedic effect, there have been a surprisingly large number of scary witch movies that have shown the witch in all of their terrifying glory even if, as sometimes happens, they actually remain out of the viewer’s sight.

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UPDATE: 2022/10/19 17:57 EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS

The 2022 Halloween season kicked off in style when Disney+ released the sequel Hocus Pocus 2, returning the child-hungry Sanderson sisters back to modern-day Salem. While the Sanderson sisters are evil, and Hocus Pocus is a beloved classic, it is not necessarily a movie that really gets the witches right. Instead, it is a mostly light romp through a family-friendly horror movie. However, during the Halloween season, there are plenty of movies that do get scary witch movies right, and most of them are available to stream on several top streaming services.

Spirited Away (2003)

* Stream now on HBO Max

When looking at the best scary witch movies, fans don’t always think about Hayao Miyazaki. However, take a long hard look at Yubaba in Spirited Away and find a movie about an evil witch that surpassed many live-action horror movies. In Spirited Away, a young girl named Chihiro has to save her parents from this evil witch.

Yes, this is an animated film, but Spirited Away is beautiful, breathtaking, and has some genuinely scary moments. Honestly, Yubaba might be one of the best witches in any movie. She is evil, conniving, and intelligent, a true threat to Chihiro and everyone she loves. She also has no reason to hide, and lives an extravagant life, somehow making her even more threatening.

Stardust (2007)

Stream now on HBO Max

The best evil witches are the ones who want something personal. In the vein of Snow White, where the witch wanted to remain the fairest in the land, the witch in Stardust wanted something similar. Lamia wanted her beauty and youth back.

What made the movie so interesting was that the hero wanted to capture a fallen star to convince his love to marry him. The evil witch wanted the star to regain her youth and beauty. Both hero and villain wanted the same thing for selfish reasons, and it was the one who chose the right thing in the end that ended up a hero. Was Lamia so bad? That is what makes this witch movie such an intriguing watch.

Black Sunday (1961)

Stream now on AMC+ & Shudder

Black Sunday came out in 1961 and had a master of horror behind the camera in Mario Bava. The film proves that the classics can often create terror just as masterfully as contemporary gore-fests.

Mario Bava’s Black Sunday was an Italian gothic horror movie, and it was the master’s first directorial effort. Like the best scary witch movies, Black Sunday was about a witch murdered by her brother who returns 200 years later to seek revenge on his descendants. Bava had a great career, but his debut might be one of his best, presenting a witch who had every reason to be angry and want revenge, but who was nonetheless destined to fall.

The House of the Devil (2009)

Stream now on Peacock+, The Criterion Channel & Shudder

Mainstream movie fans are finally discovering what horror fans have known for over a decade. Ti West is a name to keep an eye on. He is a hot name now thanks to the back-to-back release of X and Pearl. However, go back to 2009, and he was putting out great throwback movies then too.

In The House of the Devil, West created a movie that harkened back to the Satanic scare of the 1980s. In the movie, a babysitter showed up for a job in a remote house, only to find herself the target of a witch and a cult that surrounded her. This was an impressively scary witch movie and proved West was a star on the rise.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Stream now on Disney+

Don’t discount Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as just another Marvel Comics movie. Wanda Maximoff is a witch, and she ended up purely evil when she decided she would destroy an entire world if it meant getting the children she created with magic back.

With a horror icon behind the camera in Sam Raimi, he gave Marvel its first real horror movie and made Wanda into the Scarlet Witch, one of the most terrifying villains in the MCU. She used her immense powers to kill and hurt others, and delivered a performance that showed what a truly vengeful witch could accomplish.

The Witch (2015)

Stream now on HBO Max

The Witch is, without a doubt, one of the best films made about this figure. Taking place in the earliest days of the United States, it focuses on a family banished into the forest, where they encounter the titular character.

Ultimately, the young girl Thomasin (the film’s major character) becomes ensnared by the devil and begins to worship him, becoming a witch just like the one that terrorized her family.

The Witches (1990)

Stream now on HBO Max

Roald Dahl was one of those authors who could craft stories that were supposedly for children but had a dark and sinister edge. In the hands of Nicolas Roeg, a film director known for edgy dramas, Dahl’s book came to brilliant life on the big screen.

A lot of the credit for the scary witch movies frightening aspect goes to Anjelica Huston, the divine actress who plays the leader of the witches. She’s truly hideous in all the right ways. Disney+ remade the movie in 2020, but it didn’t reach the level of the original The Witches.

Suspiria (1977)

Stream now on Tubi & Kanopy

The 1970s was a golden age for horror films of a particular type, usually involving someone who doesn’t realize that they are a part of a sinister plot.

In this case, it’s about a young woman who joins a dance studio that she gradually realizes is run by witches. It’s not every horror film that is both gory and chilling, but that’s exactly what happens here. No one who watches this film will ever look at witches the same way again.

The Pale Door (2020)

Stream now on Shudder & AMC+

There’s no film genre that’s quite as associated with the essence of the American imagination quite like the western. Despite this, there are surprisingly few westerns that intersect with the horror genre.

However, that’s precisely what happens with The Pale Door, and that’s a big part of what makes it such a fascinating, and terrifying, film to watch. The best part about it is that it does a lot with a little, drawing the viewer in and never letting go.

Don’t Knock Twice (2016)

Stream now on AMC+

The figure of the witch has taken many shapes in different cultures, and one of the most notable is the Baba Yaga, who makes an appearance in this film. She’s a truly terrifying creature, and she is one of those cinematic creations that’s sure to keep the viewer on the edge of their seats.

There’s not a lot about this film that’s terribly new in terms of what it does with the horror genre, but there’s something to be said about leaning into what viewers expect from a horror film.

The Conjuring (2013)

Stream now on HBO Max

As if witches weren’t scary enough while they were alive, they frequently appear in films as malevolent spirits that continue to haunt the living, which is exactly what happens in The Conjuring. This witch is a truly horrifying creation, a testament to the twisted imaginations that directors often bring to their projects.

Aside from everything else, it’s one of those scary witch movies that really takes a lot of effort to create a film that’s not just terrifying but also downright beautiful.

The Wretched (2019)

Stream now on Netflix & Hulu

These days, it’s hard to create a horror film that can do anything different with the established formulas, but every so often one comes along that reminds people that there are still new ways to put a spin on the genre.

It’s impossible not to get caught up in the story of The Wretched, which focuses on a young boy who confronts a malevolent witch who lives next to his father. There are more than enough scares in this scary witch movie to make it well worth a watch on Halloween.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Stream now on Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock & Paramount+

There’s something to be said for a horror film that evokes the terror of a witch without really showing one on-screen. That’s exactly what happens with The Blair Witch Project, which was one of the first “found footage” horror films that have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Though notoriously camera-shy in this film, it’s precisely the fact that the witch is so evasive that makes them so interesting and absolutely terrifying.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Stream now on Fubo & Showtime

There are some scary witch movies that have become established as part of the horror canon, and this film is one of them. The titular Rosemary becomes ensnared by a group of Satanists living next door who want to use her to produce the child of Satan.

It’s a moody and atmospheric film, and the genius of it is that it presents the witch-like characters as seemingly charming and humorous old people. Ruth Gordon is particularly excellent, and a reminder of the many forms the witch can take. The cast made the movie, and it never could have been the same if Rosemary’s Baby was recast today.

Scooby-Doo And The Witch’s Ghost (1999)

Stream now on DirecTV & Boomerang

Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost belongs to that period of Scooby-Doo films that featured creatures that were actually real. In this case, the titular witch is a powerful being that was imprisoned in her own spell book by a group of Wiccans, only to be brought back by her descendant.

For an animated film, this scary witch movie actually goes to some dark places, and it’s easy to get a chill down the spine when Sarah Ravencroft comes back to wreak havoc on the present.

NEXT: 15 Best Horror Films, According To The AFI

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