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Oct 282015
 

Welcome to another Halloween themed top 10 list. This year it’s about my most favorite wicked witches in pop culture. Just to set the record straight, there is a difference between witchcraft and sorcery, although it is hard to tell sometimes. Be sure to check out my Top 10 Wicked Sorceresses list for a comparison. Now here are the witches.

#10) Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf: Witches don’t come any sillier than her. In fact, you can tell just by the sound of her name that Witchiepoo is more funny than creepy. She is intent on capturing young Jimmy and stealing his talking flute Freddie, but never succeeds. It doesn’t help that Witchiepoo has bumbling henchmen and a talking castle that doesn’t believe in her. Of course that’s what makes this witch so interesting and memorable.

#9) The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus: Known as Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), this trio of witches intends to steal the life force from children for the soul purpose of staying forever young. They tend to bumble through situations while adjusting to the more modern world, since they’re from 300 years in the past, but that’s what makes them hilarious. However, these witches are also dangerous and creepy, so you definitely don’t want to get on their bad sides.

#8) Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) from The Brothers Grimm: This nameless beauty was vain and selfish, then eventually killed by the plague. Now as a vengeful spirit, the Mirror Queen has the power to possess an entire forest and capture young girls in creepy and mysterious ways to steal their youth. Seriously, what is it with old witches wanting to stay young?

#7) Maja from Adventure Time: This sky witch is known for taking various objects that contain sentimental affection for great power. In addition to that, Maja can fly, shoot bolts of electricity from her hands, and has an edgy distorted voice. At least she believes in fair trade, compared to most wicked witches.

#6) Taminella Grinderfall from Muppets franchise: This character was always cast as the wicked witch in some of the old Muppet fairytale specials like Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Frog Prince. Her methods of deceit are often silly and easy to see through, but they always seem to succeed, especially with King Goshposh. Since Taminella was never featured again after her defeat in The Frog Prince, she has definitely become underrated.

#5) Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) from Harry Potter franchise: Among many of Voldemort’s followers, Bellatrix is the most loyal as well as the most psychotic. She takes pleasure in killing anyone who crosses her and has sparked a personal vendetta with Neville Longbottom, since she was the one who tortured his parents. What really makes Bellatrix stand out is her crazy and sadistic persona, which is something any evil master ought to look for in a henchwoman.

#4) Theodora (Mila Kunis) from Oz the Great and Powerful: The Wicked Witch of the West has always been an iconic character. However, it’s the one in this movie version that stands out because it reveals how this wicked witch came to be. It’s so interesting to know that Theodora used to be good, then was driven to become a heartless monster. I’ve never been able to see the Wicked Witch of the West the same way again after that.

#3) Evil Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg is a witch that has always been a loyal member of Buffy’s Scooby team. In season six, her girlfriend Tara was murdered and that pushed Willow to a breaking point. That drove her to take revenge and nearly destroy the world. It can be tough to see such a good character go bad, but Evil Willow’s edgy presence and determination makes her a witch you wouldn’t want to face in a dark alley.

#2) Queen Jadis (Tilda Swinton) from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Best referred to as the White Witch, this self-proclaimed queen rules the land of Narnia with an iron fist and turns anyone who crosses her into stone. She won’t hesitate to hurt or kill others and is quick to judge when her servants’ loyalty is compromised.

Jadis has made appearances in the sequels and even the animated version was good. One thing is for certain. The White Witch is as evil as they come.

#1) Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) from The Craft: This troubled teen is the head of her coven and desires great power, so she can use it to get what she wants. Eventually, Nancy lets that go to her head and ends up losing her sanity. As wickedly crazy as she is, I think Nancy is also likable, especially when she smiles. That is why I rank her at the top of this list.

Dec 052011
 

In the third installment, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (Single-Disc Edition), the Pevensie children return to the magical land of Narnia for a new adventure. Well, some of them anyway.

This time Edmund (Skandar Keynes), adorable little Lucy (Georgie Henley) and their selfish cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) find themselves out at sea on a ship called the Dawn Treader. King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the crew are on a quest to find seven lost lords, each with a magical sword, over at the Lone Islands.

Reepicheep (voice of Simon Pegg) also returns to share in this grand adventure. He seems to take a liking to Eustace, despite all the constant complaining. I guess Reepicheep sees potential, though it may take awhile to reach him.

The Lone Islands are a group of islands with a different adventure at each one. This is where it really gets exciting. The first island has been taken over by slave traders. Although Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy fight bravely, they end up captured and sold off as slaves. Of course Lucy would be sold off first. I mean, who wouldn’t want Lucy the Adorable?

Their luck starts to change when they find Lord Bern (Terry Norris), one of the seven lords, in the dungeon. Then it’s revealed that there’s a larger purpose for this quest. There’s a mysterious dark mist out at sea that gobbles up people. The seven swords are the one source to destroy it and save Narnia.

After escaping the slave traders, Caspian and the crew arrive at the next island and spend the night on shore. During the night, some invisible creatures kidnap Lucy and take her to a hidden house, so she can find a book of incantations to make them visible again. It’s real neat when Lucy finds all sorts of different spells inside the book that provide some highly visual demonstrations.

While sailing through rough weather toward the next island, the dark mist takes effect. Lucy casts a spell from the book of incantations to make herself more beautiful, but it became more than she bargained for. Meanwhile, Edmund has a nightmare about Queen Jadis (Tilda Swinton) coming back for him. Is there no end to the White Witch’s torment?

The crew reaches the next island. While looking for provisions, Eustace wanders off, finds treasure, and fills his pockets. In another area, Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy find a cursed waterhole in a chasm. Anything that touches the water turns to gold, which was the fate of the second Lord. Eustace finds the third Lord dead, but he gets himself turned into a dragon. On the bright side, three swords are now found and Eustace becomes a more helpful ally. So that’s what it takes for Eustace to clean up his act.

Soon the crew makes it to Ramandu’s Island, where they find three more Lords and their swords, but are under an enchantment. Then they are sent to Dark Island, which is the source of the mist. Inside they find Lord Rhoop (Bruce Spence) and his sword, but the danger is still far from over. As the mist affects the Dawn Treader, it becomes an exciting battle against dark fears and a sea serpent. Where’s Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson) when you need him?

This was another excellent sequel. I don’t know if there will be a fourth installment, but this trilogy will always be among my favorites.

Dec 082010
 

Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and adorable little Lucy (Georgie Henley) are back in the sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Much time has passed since their last adventure in Narnia. It’s been one year their time, 1300 years Narnia time, and three years our time. Ain’t that something?

When the Pevensie children are summoned back to Narnia, they couldn’t be happier. That is until they find out that Narnia has changed a lot. Their old castle at Cape Paravelle is nothing more than a bunch of ruins and the Narnians are thought of as nothing more than mere legends, including Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson).

Meanwhile, the wicked King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) rules Narnia, even though the rightful heir is his nephew Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). Once Miraz had an heir of his own, he sets out to kill Caspian. Now it’s up to the Pevensie children to help Caspian regain his throne and lead the Narnians to victory. What’s left of them anyway.

When I saw the BBC version of this movie, Warwick Davis played the role of Reepicheep the mouse. When I first heard that he was going to be in this version, I thought he was going to reprise the role. Instead he plays the role of Nikabrik the dwarf, but was still great nonetheless.

Now this Reepicheep (voice of Simon Pegg) is a really cool character. He’s a tiny sword fighter, who can take out a group of soldiers easily. He’s like Puss in Boots from the Shrek films, only without the cute cat stare. Lucy thinks he’s cute, but Reepicheep doesn’t like to hear that. “Courageous”, “courteous”, or “chivalrous”, he likes, but not “cute”. You’ve got to admit, Reepicheep knows how to tie up a cat. “Yes, I’m a mouse.”

Soon the heroes all find Aslan’s how, which is a temple that was built over the stone table. On the walls are carvings of the kings and queens as well as other items from the first movie. It makes a really nice hideout for the Narnian army, even if it’s supposed to be a tomb, like a pyramid.

After a failed attempt at taking out King Miraz’s army at the castle, Nikabrik convinces Caspian that to stop Miraz is to use an evil power. This is one of my favorite scenes. With the help of a werewolf and a vulture hag, Nikabrik betrays the Narnians by summoning Queen Jadis the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Her soul is trapped within an icy crystal gateway, but one drop of a man’s blood will bring her back. It gets real exciting when Peter and Edmund come to stop them. Even Lucy gets in on the fight. I guess she has now become Lucy the adorably valiant. But it was Edmund who really expressed his feelings toward the White Witch after how she treated him.

She’s ba-ack!

The heroes begin to lose all hope because Aslan still hasn’t shown up to help out. In fact, he was hardly even in this whole movie. At least we know that Aslan hasn’t aged a whole lot over the years.

Peter then decides to take on King Miraz in a one-on-one battle to the death with the reward of total surrender. It gets funny when Miraz “bravely” refuses the challenge and his men talk about supporting his decision, which triggers Miraz to accept the challenge instead. It was like they wanted Miraz to fight with the great possibility of losing the match. Very clever, gentlemen.

Even though this film was a bit darker than the first one, I still enjoyed it. I also saw the BBC version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which makes me look forward to the next sequel to this franchise.

One last item: Once again in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park in Orlando, there was a section that had different costumes and props from the movie as well as a brief showing of the making of Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Here are some new photos from the display.

  

Dec 162009
 

Back when I was taking drama classes in community college, one of the plays I was in was The Magician’s Nephew in the role of Aslan the lion. That’s why I got excited when The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Widescreen Edition) premiered around Christmas of 2005. The Magician’s Nephew was like a prelude to this story. Even though The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first novel in the group of seven.

Magician's Nephew

This was me in the role of Aslan during the stage production of “The Magician’s Nephew” in 2001

It starts in London during World War 2, which coincidentally takes place in the same city and time period as Disney’s Peter Pan. Four siblings, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and adorable little Lucy (Georgie Henley) are sent away to live in a large house in the country owned by Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent).

During a game of hide and seek, Lucy finds a wardrobe that turns out to be a gateway to the world of Narnia. Although she had been gone for awhile, Lucy returns as if she had never left. And if that wasn’t strange enough, Lucy tells the others and shows them the wardrobe. The gateway disappears and nobody believes her. For some odd reason, the gateway only appears when you’re not looking for it. Sounds kind of stupid, don’t you think?

narnia-art1_by_bloody_american_in_r

Soon Edmund finds Narnia and Queen Jadis a.k.a. the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), who easily tempts him to her side with Turkish delight. It was like tempting a horse with apples. Edmund’s rebelliousness is gonna get the best of him yet.

Professor Kirke does believe that the wardrobe is a gateway to Narnia. I can only assume that he is Digory from The Magician’s Nephew, who had an adventure in Narnia himself years ago and still looks forward to going back one day.

ValiantLucyWhen the four children all make it to Narnia, they end up becoming Aslan’s chosen team of kings and queens in order to defeat the White Witch and restore peace to Narnia. There’s a bit of a snag when Edmund takes off and becomes the White Witch’s prisoner.

Peter, Susan, and Lucy soon find Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson) and his army of various talking animals and fantasy creatures. They soon rescue Edmund and he makes amends with his siblings. Now Aslan’s army has a better chance of succeeding. But the White Witch also has an army of wolves, witches, demons, and monsters. Even polar bears to pull her chariot.

Polar bears? They must be grumpy because the White Witch hasn’t given them any Coke. The war becomes brutal, especially with the White Witch turning her opponents into stone with that wand of hers. It gets more exciting when it comes down to Peter and Edmund up against the White Witch herself.

Around the movie’s release, I found out that there was an animated version called The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The story was easier to follow after seeing the other version and I found it just as enjoyable.

This is a great film for around Christmas time. Father Christmas (James Cosmo) makes an appearance as well. Even though he gives the children weapons as gifts, not once did anyone say, “You’ll put your eye out”.

Still, Lucy was one of the biggest highlights to me. She is such a sweet little girl with a smile that can light up a room. It makes me look forward to the sequel(s).

One last item: At the time in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park in Orlando, there was a section that had costumes and props from the movie as well as a brief showing of the making of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Here are a few photos from the display.

Narnia