‘The Witches’ movies – 2020 and 1990 versions

I’ve read about how some people don’t consider the new remake of ‘The Witches’ which was released last month, as good as the classic 1990 original.

(Oh my God, that’s 30 years ago! How time flies. And I was only 17! *Gasp*).

I vaguely thought the same after watching the new remake. But after watching the classic one again, I was a bit surprised to find I feel it’s not as good as how I remembered it! Nostalgia struts around wearing rose-tinted glasses, I guess.

Of course, 30 years is a long time and I was a different person as a 17-year-old. Some of my tastes and viewpoints have changed and that contributes to how I feel about the classic movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the original to bits, and while Anne Hathaway did a great job as the Grand High Witch in the new remake, I still prefer Angelica Huston’s iconic performance in the original. But comparing the two versions overall? The new remake feels to be better, in my opinion, due to several factors such as Octavia Spencer’s performance in the grandmother role, and the set decoration which I find much more beautiful and interesting to look at.

Here’s my opinion about which version I prefer with regards to specific parts of the movies:

  • Grandmother role: 2020 remake.
    • Octavia Spencer has tons of talent and movie charisma and is incredibly watchable in every single role she does, and her work here is no exception.
  • The grandson / Luke role: 1990 original
    • Referring to the role itself, I feel the nerdy Harry Potter-like character from the original is more fun and child-like. That lightens the children’s movie a little bit more which helps because both versions are actually pretty scary.
    • As for the child actors portraying the role, they did an equally fantastic job.
    • I find Chris Rock‘s voice as the narrating grandson in the remake annoying and distracting, but only because I can’t detach his distinctive voice from the visual of the zebra role he did in the ‘Madagascar‘ animation movies.
  • Hotel Owner role: 1990 original
    • Both the role itself and the actor who played him in the original, Rowan Atkinson, were better than in the remake.
    • Stanley Tucci is a wonderful actor who I love and is usually fantastic, but the role in the remake is quite boring and does not deserve him.
  • Grand High Witch role: 1990 original
    • Angelica Huston is clearly the better Grand High Witch, in my opinion. She hams it up yet somehow she is perfectly at ease and natural. I think this is also why her Morticia Addams portrayal in The Addams Family movies is also so perfect and iconic, just flawless, and so, so much loved.
    • Anne Hathaway‘s version is certainly entertaining, but her portrayal is more cartoony and over-the-top, but in a fun way.
  • Set design: 2020 remake
    • The ‘Grand Orleans Imperial Island Hotel‘ in Alabama is stunning. The room the Grand High Witch occupies with its balcony is particularly fun to look at, featured in important scenes including the Grand High Witch’s final appearance.
    • The ‘Excelsior Hotel‘ in England in the original is beautiful and charming too, just not as much as the hotel in Alabama.
    • I also love Grandma’s House and town in Alabama much more than I do the one in Norway in the original, although beautiful too.
  • Mouse pet (Daisy/Mary): 2020 remake
    • Called Daisy initially, the talking pet in the remake is a great character and adds substantially to the fun.
    • In the original, the pets can’t talk and are not important supporting characters like Daisy is.
  • Special effects and make-up: 1990 original
    • The 30-year difference between the two movies means the remake features more polished effects technically, but the original comes across as more winningly charming to me. Jim Henson‘s puppetry is still wonderful to watch after all these years.
    • The Grand High Witch’s ‘real’ face in the original is also more morbidly fascinating to me.
    • If I’m a parent, I would be far more concerned with the ‘real’ face of the Grand High Witch in the remake. The one in the original is also very scary, but somehow it has more of a ‘fantasy’ element (if that makes sense), whereas in the remake it’s what nightmares are made of, to me.
  • Deformed 3-claw hands of the witches: 1990 original (for not having them!)
    • This reportedly did not feature in either the book (which I have not read) or the original movie, and was added to the remake, resulting in backlash from some people with physical impairments, who are concerned it may cause people with physical impairments to be seen as abnormal or scary.
  • The Grand High Witch’s end: 2020 remake
    • The remake’s version is far more thrilling and fun. Also, I can’t help but notice she’s not shown actually dead/defeated. Is this to pave the way for her appearance in a sequel, in case the movie does well? For years now it seems that everything must have sequels and trilogies! So more money can be squeezed out from them, why not! LOL
  • Ending of Story: 1990 original
    • I much prefer the relatively simpler and sweeter way the original ends. A happy ending with a little surprising twist for the character development of one of the witches.
    • The remake’s ending seems to be very sequel-friendly, so I won’t be surprised if there is one in the future.

I’ve just changed my mind! After considering the points above, I now feel that, although it’s not as good as I remember it, the original from 1990 is still better than the 2020 remake, overall. Nostalgia wins! :-)

Much more importantly, the original also does not feature limb differences in its villains, that may cause kids and adults suffering from such physical conditions in real life to feel bad, or worse, made fun of by other kids.

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The following is a cool and interesting video comparing the two versions:

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Related:

  • BBC.com – The Witches – Backlash over film’s portrayal of limb impairments – 4 November 2020