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The Witches of Eastwick (1987) - Movie Review

The Witches of Wastwick movie

With so few decent films coming out of Hollywood these days I’m finding myself re-watching more and more old ones. It’s not a bad thing, but it does reinforce my opinion that we’re currently living in the worst era of films since modern cinema began.

Thankfully we have enough great movies from before things went t#ts up to keep us entertained (hopefully) until someone decides to start making good ones again.

With that in mind I recently had an urge to watch a film I hadn’t seen since I was a kid, and although it’s not quite a “horror” (even though IMDb categorises it as one), I thought watching it again would make for a good post on the lead up to Halloween.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a comedy/fantasy/horror starring Jack Nicholson (As Good As It Gets), Cher (Moonstruck), Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise), Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns), Veronica Cartwright (Alien) and Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water) among others.

It’s based on the 1984 book of the same name, written by John Updike.

This is what it’s about:

“In the small New England town of Eastwick where everyone knows everything about everyone else, three friends, each having lost the man in their lives, share their desire to find “the perfect man”. The next day a mysterious and charismatic stranger arrives in town and seduces each woman in turn. At first the friends embrace the new love in their lives and the power it gives them, but after a few sinister goings on they start to suspect Daryl Van Horne might not be the man of their dreams after all.”

It had been so long since I last saw this film (I’m guessing 30 years) that I really didn’t remember all that much about it. In fact, about the only memory I had of it was a scene where Veronica Cartwright pukes up cherry pips, but more about that shortly….

I’ve always loved Jack Nicholson, it’s hard to name a bad film he’s done. He’s a very rare breed of actor who’s not only extremely talented, but oozes charisma and had real integrity when it came to the kind of projects he would choose. It’s such a shame he decided to retire.

This movie is no exception when it comes to his performance, he’s absolutely brilliant! Like with a lot of other films, despite his character (essentially the devil) being the villain of the story, he’s actually extremely likeable, and that’s part of what makes the film so watchable.

Right from his hilarious introduction he steals every scene - and that’s saying something when you consider how good the other cast members are.

He’s on typical top form in this movie and his performance in a lot of ways is reminiscent of that of Jack Torrance in The Shining seven years earlier.

As good as Nicholson is though, this isn’t his film, it really belongs to the three female leads or “witches”. All of which are unsurprisingly flawless, with each playing much different versions of their characters in the second half of the movie than in the first.

As a geeky side note I can’t help thinking it’s pretty cool that Michelle Pfeiffer went on to play Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992) five years after starring in this, when her co-star (Nicholson) played The Joker in Batman (1989) just a few years earlier. I know it’s sad but I love stuff like that!

Something that really struck me watching this film is how much of a female empowerment movie it is. People these days talk as if things like diversity (including strong female lead characters) are a new thing, but it’s simply not the case. Unfortunately though, when it’s done now it often feels forced and almost like a box ticking exercise, while back before the world went mad it was just what it was. This film is as girl power as you can get and they did it before it was even “cool”.

Another standout performance in this movie comes courtesy of Veronica Cartwright who’s just superb (not to mention hilarious) as Felicia, the devoutly religious wife of local newspaper editor Clyde Alden (Richard Jenkins). She senses something evil has come to town and slowly descends into madness (or so people think) being the only one to seemingly not fall under Daryl Van Horne’s (Nicholson’s) spell.

The scene with the cherry stones obviously made an impression on me as a kid because it’s been my lasting memory of this film all these years.

WARNING: If you suffer from emetophobia (an extreme fear of vomiting, seeing vomit, watching other people vomit, or even feeling sick) you may want to look away at a couple of key moments during the film.

With great characters, a compelling and well told story that ticks along at a decent pace, and yet another enchanting score by the great John Williams, this movie was a real treat to revisit. It has memorable scenes, some wickedly dark humour, and a typically “Jack Nicholson” performance by the one and only…well, Jack Nicholson.

If you somehow haven’t seen this 80s gem and enjoy a good old fashioned supernatural comedy that can be likened to movies like Beetlejuice, Death Becomes Her and Hocus Pocus (just with a more adult theme) I highly recommend giving it a go.

You can rent it from Amazon Prime for the rather unusual price of £3.09.

Seen it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


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