The witches (or the Secret Society of Witches) are the titular villains of Roald Dahl's 1983 children's fantasy book The Witches and of its 1990 live-action film adaptation. In the film version, most of them are played by men in women's clothing, including uncredited Michael Palin.
All-female and monstrous, the witches secretly exist in all countries, cruelly preying on children. They are all ruled by the extremely vicious and powerful Grand High Witch, who in the story has just arrived in England to organise the total extinction of the local child population in her worst plot ever. But an elderly former witch hunter and her young grandson find about the evil plan and now must do everything to out a stop to it. With luck and dare, they might be able also destroy her and all the witches in the nation, and maybe even everywhere in the world.
Witch lore Edit
The witches are not only mythical beings in this world, but they are the worst and most evil in all of existence. Local witch populations of every country are largely different from each other, but they all pose as nice women who live normal lives (some common traits of a witch include long fingernails and purple eyes). They also all use their magic for evil deeds, in particular to cruelly abuse and murder children, whose "foul, dirty, stinky" smell they can not stand.
Witchophiles are the men and women who secretly seek out witches in order to protect children from harm. Helga Eveshim (Grandmamma), the elderly grandmother of the young child protagonist Luke, has been one of greatest hunters in her youth, battling them since one witch tried to kill her, but now she is long retired. This is where she gained all her knowledge which she now passes on to her grandson.
The witches of England, for instance, who are said to be the most sinister, "plotting and scheming and churning and burning and whizzing and phizzing with murderous bloodthirsty thoughts," are known to take a great great pleasure to stand back and watch the grown-ups killing their own children who have been turned into animals, and their common traits include being bald and using wigs. "A witch only knows the witches in her own country. She is strictly forbidden to communicate with any foreign witches." But withing each country, "they are all friends. They ring each other up. They swap deadly recipes."
The witches have a strict hierarchy and are all ruled over by the all-powerful Grand High Witch, of whom the current one in the story is a merciless and deceptively sexy Norwegian noblewoman named Eva Ernst (Anjelica Huston), and with whom they meet on their Annual Meetings. In the past, she also faced off against Luke's grandmother Helga, who had spent many years in pursuit of her without a success.
A close companion to the Eva is a witch known as the Woman in Black (Anne Lambton), who in the film sits on her right side at the end. Both of them are clad all-black, wearing figure-hugging dresses with low-cut necklines, high-heeled shoes, gloved hands, and red lipstick. It is also known that every Grand High Witch works with a large number of Assistant Witches who live in her castle.
The great feat Edit
In the book and the film, Luke and Helga by chance stumble on a gathering of all (more than 80) witches residing in England, held in a hotel there. It is ironically held under the guise of the the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and attended by the terrifying Grand High Witch herself. The witches in the film are also shown to se sexually sadistic as they become visibly aroused when they hurt children. Especially the Grand High Witch, who outright experiences an orgasm when she seemingly fingers herself through her clothes in excitement at the thought of finally showing her greatest triumph: a magical potion that will turn little boys and girls into mice. She soon turns Luke into a mouse.
However, realizing this is an opportunity to eliminate "every witch in England in one swoop... and the Grand High Witch in the bargain," Luke devises a cunning plan. Using her own magic potion formula, which she had devised against the nation's children, they (in the film along with another boy named Bruno, also now a mouse) manage to turn all the witches present there into brown mice. The witch-mice keep their intelligence in their new forms, but are immediately "smashed and bashed and chopped up into little pieces" by the confused and panicked staff.
Waiters were attacking the mice with chairs and wine-bottles and anything else that came to hand. I saw a chef in a tall white hat rushing out from the kitchen brandishing a frying-pan, and another one just behind him was wielding a carving-knife above his head, and everyone was yelling, "Mice! Mice! Mice! We must get rid of the mice!" Only the children in the room were really enjoying it. They all seemed to know instinctively that something good was going on right there in front of them, and they were clapping and cheering and laughing like mad.
The epilogue Edit
At the end of the story, although Helga's powerful nemesis the Grand High Witch is now dead, and the witches of England have been wiped out so the local children are no longer in danger, the heroes decide they still have work to do. There are still many more children around the world to save, and many more witches to kill. Armed with some of the Grand High Witch's magic and her contact informations, they are now ready to finally rid the entire world of the plague of witches for good.
In the film, their adventures are to start in America. In the book, they first plan is to go to a castle in Norway to kill off the next Grand High Witch and her many retainers, whom they plan to also turn into mice and then have cats eat them. The grandmother's plan after clearing and taking over the Grand High Witch's Castle with a magical money-printing machine for themselves, and then begin systematically taking down the unsuspecting foreign witches until the world is free of their threat forever. They talk eagerly about how they will go about destroying witches in every country and how much fun it will be:
Then we shall go through the records and get the names and addresses of all the witches in the whole wide world! After that, my darling, the greatest task of all will begin for you and me! We shall pack our bags and go travelling all over the world! In every country we visit, we shall seek out the houses where the witches are living! We shall find each house, one by one, and having found it, you will creep inside and leave your little drops of deadly Mouse-Maker in the bread, or the cornflakes, or the rice-pudding or whatever food you see lying about. It will be a triumph, my darling! A colossal unbeatable triumph. We shall do it entirely by ourselves, just you and me!