Monday, September 2, 2013

The Craftettes

As a female who was 14 in 1996, I consider virtually every day of the year the right time to watch The Craft. Imagine my glee then to discover that way back when Fairuza Balk was pulling her hair and Robin Tunney was rocking a strawberry blond wig, a small studio financed a quickie Catholic schoolgirls-turn-to-Satan movie starring Clea DuVall and Jennifer Rubin as a nun in a fanny pack.


Quick Plot: After a black mass-y prologue, we’re sent to the present (or really 1990s version of it) where a girls' Catholic school is about to relax for Easter break. A gaggle of students stay behind due to the typically Harry Potter-esque reasons of being orphans, having rich parents that don’t want them around, or trying to avoid abusive dads that have birthed a very dangerous habit of masturbating during confessional.

Said girl with the habit of touching herself during Lord's Prayers is Jamie, played with full panache by an often naked Sheeri Rappaport. As you might guess, it’s Jamie, the girl who performs a topless striptease in front of her window to an audience of uniformly attractive construction workers who ends up falling hardest for Lucifer’s charms. If you’d like, we can henceforth refer to this character as Fairuza Two.

Rooming with Fairuza Two is a goody two-shoes Stanford hopeful named Faith (or Robin Tunney Two Point Oh, if you’d prefer) who has the handy skill of reading fluent Latin and the inconvenient drawback of being a fairly terrible actress, at least during the apparent two-week shoot time of Little Witches. Like me, actress Mimi Rose speaks too loudly, which, as you might expect, IS QUITE ANNOYING (now I know how everyone I converse with feels; sorry guys). She’s also taxed with the dullest role and paired with a hunky (at first) virginal (see?) love interest whose delivery of dialogue rivals Siri on Valium. 

Once Fairuza Two and the remaining students discover a book of spells in a hidden lair, the girls spend some montages preparing to summon Satan or gain knowledge or do something that involves naughtiness. The details are fuzzy, but you can count on a few naked teenagers, some deep demon voiceovers, and a not-that-epic-at-all showdown between the screechy Faith and funtime Jamie.

Directed by Jane Simpson, Little Witches is not a particularly good movie, but if IMDB's 2-week product claim is correct, then it certainly could have been worse. There’s plenty of muted sleaze to keep things somewhat interesting, plus bonus supporting turns by a few genre gems. It doesn’t have a toilet bowl full of snakes on the OTHER witchy thriller of 1996, but it’s nice to know there’s another one.

High Points
Rappaport really does do her damnest to keep her scenes alive. When she’s paired with capable costars (including an always welcome Clea DuVall), Little Witches can appear to be a decent movie. When she’s paired with, well, Mimi Rose, at least she keeps things interesting

Low Points
The presence of the late, great Zelda Rubinstein is always welcome. The waste of her time is not.

Lessons Learned
The trick to fishing is to say three Hail Marys before throwing the line in the water

The trick to not being killed by a demon is to enact stricter supervision over troubled teenagers

The trick to surviving a Good Friday black mass is to shove a Eucharist down the chanters’ throats with all the fervor of Kristy Swanson at the finale of Flowers In the Attic


Hey, for a 90 minute instant watch, Little Witches offers some goofy 90s charm. It doesn’t quite have the nerve to revel in its sleaziness, but there’s still enough to go around, especially if you put it next to the far less fun 5ive Girls. Those who enjoy this decade’s horror output will chuckle at some of the nostalgia, although looking at Little Witches now, it’s hard not to think of it as a pre-Asylum adaptation of the funner, more expensive The Craft. Then again, a cheap quickie version of The Craft costarring Clea DuVall and, in case I haven’t mentioned it, Jennifer Rubin as a nun with a fanny pack is kind of something special, wouldn’t you say?


  1. I know how you feel about this movie wasting Zelda Rubinstein. The latest season of Doctor Who was largely pretty bad on its own, but a recurring villain in three episodes was played by Richard E. Grant, and the episodes wasted him so much they made him act lifeless and boring, which is an unforgivable crime!

  2. That's a crime! Richard Grants don't grow on trees!

  3. I never had heard of Little Witches, but that picture of the guy fishing made me stop and pay serious attention. "Is that... could it be... Jack Nance?" The IMDb says yes. Died the year it came out. His last film, Lost Highway was released posthumously the next year. Yeah. I'm gonna go somewhere and be sad for a minute thinking about this.

  4. I am sorry for the sadness. But on the positive side, Jennifer Rubin as a nun with a fanny pack!

  5. Wow this sounds exactly like "The Craft" which was also terrible. Still guess this is just another casulty of the whole witch craze that came out in the 90's, which saw girls at my school frequently trying to Hex me and which strangely disappeared around the same time Williow became a lesbian on Buffy? No idea if there is a connection there or just random coincidence.

    Have to question though if there has ever been a good Witch horror film (no Hocus Pocus doesn't count)??

  6. You just called The Craft terrible? I WILL PUT A HEX ON YOU FOR THAT!

    Sorry. See, I was 14 when that movie came out. It might as well have been Casablanca!

    I suppose supernaturally empowered teen girls were a big thing in the'90s. I'm sure Buffy helped that. I also think that's a common YA theme that will probably never go away.


  7. Yes. I was 12 when The Craft came out, it will always be dear to my heart, along with Clueless.

  8. Suspiria is a good call as is "The Woods" (why do more people not know who Lucky Mckee is?).

    I guess my main problem with "the craft" is Fairuza Balk who like Juliette Lewis always seems so sleazy in her films and her usual craziness being cranked up to 11 in that film was just too much. Been awhile since I saw it last so may have to revisit it at some point to see if my opinion has changed.

  9. Heck yeah Aimee!

    Elwood, I was underwhelmed by The Woods. It was fine for a very teen girl horror film, but I think I just expected something VERY different from McKee.

    Yes, Fairuza is cranked up to 11, but I think it works for that character. I mean, Nancy DOES invoke the powers and everything. You can't half ass that shit!

  10. I actually own this on VHS. I was about 19 when it came out and it wasn't hard to sell me on a movie about sexy witches in school girl uniforms who like to get naked. Also, I do have a fanny pack fetish... so much storage, and it's right there on your hips!

    It's been a long time since I've seen Little Witches, but I recall thinking it was okay, though I don't think I cared much about its quality at that time. I was happy to see it pop up on instant and even happier to see you review it because I've never heard anyone else talk about it.

    As for The Craft, I've always enjoyed it. I like the teen angst of the film as well as how the witchcraft aspect is handled. It's a better movie than I think anyone would have expected, especially me. Also, I always had a thing for Balk in that movie.

  11. I'm coming around on fanny packs. I use one when I run and it's kind of the most convenient thing ever. Soon will be the crossover into real world accessorizing.

    I adore The Craft, but I can attrtibute a lot of that to me being the perfect age. Still, I think you're right in that it IS much better than it had to be. And as a heterosexual woman, I find Balk quite sexy in that film.