Witches have had a prominent role in films and pop culture throughout the years, appearing in some of the most famous movies of all time. Witches are arguably best known for appearing as the villains of many popular fairy tales, but they’ve also appeared throughout various myths and works of literature. Often, witches and wizards get to be the good guys, if not the heroes themselves. Naturally, this carries over into adaptations of these stories.
Horror films have occasionally used witches as threats. Historical witch hunts and trials have also been the subject of films. Some movies also like to keep it ambiguous if their magic is real. Ultimately, whether good or bad, real or unreal, witch or warlock, they have appeared throughout multiple film genres. Naturally, some of these films have gotten high scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
13 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – 90%
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third film in the original Harry Potter film franchise. Sirius Black, a man believed to be a dangerous ally of Voldemort, has escaped Azkaban, the eponymous wizard prison. To counteract this, Dementors are unleashed by the Ministry of Magic. However, things may not be as they appear, as there may be more to Sirius than the characters realize, including his connection to Harry.
Generally, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is seen as the start of the original film series going into a darker direction, both visually and storywise. On Rotten Tomatoes, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has a score of 90%.
12 The Witch (2015) – 90%
The Witch, also stylized as The VVitch, belongs to the folk horror genre, revolving around a family in 1630s New England. A dispute has caused a family to be driven from their Puritan settlement, forcing them to take refuge building a farm in the forest. Tragedy strikes when a newborn born to the family is apparently killed by a witch. Blame falls on Thomasin, the family’s eldest daughter.
Tensions rise among the family, but it appears the witch, if one really is targeting the family, isn’t finished her attacks just yet. In fact, something far more sinister may be afoot as the family is taken down one-by-one. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Witch has a score of 90%.
11 Häxan (1922) – 91%
Häxan is a Swedish silent horror film, also known as The Witches and Witchcraft Through the Ages. The film is divided into multiple parts, starting with a scholarly discussion on witchcraft and demonology in antiquity. In the second part, the film becomes more theatrical, dramatizing ancient superstitions, such as love potions and supernatural dreams.
A brief storyline is then presented, in which an elderly weaver is accused of witchcraft and causing the death of a neighbor. During her trial, the woman, named Maria, “confesses” to being a witch, also naming other supposed “witches.” Eventually, the woman who accused Maria is burned as a witch herself. The final acts of the film are dedicated to offering modern explanations for ancient superstitions. On Rotten Tomatoes, Häxan has a score of 91%.
10 The Witches (1990) – 93%
The Witches is a film adaptation of the eponymous Roald Dahl book. Young Luke is staying at a seaside hotel with his guardian, his grandmother Helga, only to learn that there are witches among the guests, led by the Grand High Witch. Portrayed as evil creatures who pose as ordinary women, Helga herself barely escaped the clutches of witches as a child, and now they are unleashing a new evil plan: turning the children of the world into mice. Unfortunately, Luke and Bruno, another young guest, find themselves transformed into rodents. Helga and the two new mice are tasked with stopping the witches once and for all.
Infamously, the movie adaptation offers the story a happier ending than Dahl’s original book. Allegedly, Dahl himself disliked this change, although he reportedly liked actress Anjelica Huston’s performance as the Grand High Witch. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Witches has a score of 93%.
9 Suspiria (1977) – 94%
Suspiria sees a young dancer, Suzy Bannion, enroll in a boarding school in Freiburg, Germany. However, mysterious killings happen at and around the school, and it becomes apparent that a witch coven is behind it all. It comes to light that an old witch, Helena Markos, also known as the Mater Suspiriorum, or the Mother of Sighs, is the coven queen. Suzy will have to contend with the deadly witch if she wishes to escape with her life.
Suspiria is the first film of Dario Argento’s The Three Mothers trilogy, each having a witch as the main villain. Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness, appears as the main threat in Inferno, while Mater Lachrymarum, is the final threat of her namesake film, The Mother of Tears. On Rotten Tomatoes, Suspiria has a score of 94%.
8 I Married a Witch (1942) – 95%
I Married a Witch is a romantic comedy from the 1940s with a supernatural twist. A witch and her warlock father are anachronistically burned at the stake in colonial Salem. As revenge, the descendants of the man who condemned her to loveless marriages. When their spirits are freed, the enchantress, Jennifer, targets the current descendant, Wallace. However, a mishap with a love potion has Jennifer fall in love with Wallace herself. Unfortunately, Jennifer’s father still wants to cause mischief.
However, love proves stronger than magic, allowing Jennifer and Wallace to get their happy ending, at least until their daughter proves to have a bit of a witch in her. In popular culture, the film, as well as the similar Bell Book and Candle, is often remembered as an influence on the American sitcom, Bewitched. On Rotten Tomatoes, I Married a Witch has a score of 95%.
7 The Love Witch (2016) – 95%
The Love Witch is a horror comedy starring a modern witch, Elaine, living in a town where witchcraft is known and tolerated. Elaine is looking for love after the death of her husband. However, it seems that those who fall in love with her are doomed to soon die. After all, Elaine’s husband was likely no exception to this rule. Ultimately, magic and murder are both parts of Elaine’s quest for true love.
The Love Witch is known for its use of bright colors and a 1960s esthetic, notably in the film’s use of Technicolor, which contrasts the story’s horror elements, as well as homaging the horror films of the decade. There’s also a notable air of ambiguity if the magic in the story is real or not. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Love Witch has a score of 95%.
6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) – 96%
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the final film of the original Harry Potter film saga, a franchise revolving around Hogwarts, a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Harry Potter, the famous boy who lived, and his friends Ron and Hermione are on the run. Voldemort has taken over the wizarding world, with control reaching from Hogwarts to the Ministry of Magic. The only way to defeat him appears in collecting and destroying the Horcruxes, objects or entities that contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul.
The decision to split the final book’s adaptation into two films was a controversial one. While it did allow more content to be adapted, others felt it was an attempt to extend the film series as much as possible. This has not, however, stopped the film from doing well on Rotten Tomatoes, earning an approval rating of 96%.
5 Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – 96%
Rosemary’s Baby is a horror film from the late 1960s that starts when Rosemary and her actor husband Guy move into an old New York City apartment building, in spite of rumors of murder and the occult haunting the place. Strange happenings occur, especially after Rosemary becomes pregnant. When the child appears to be stillborn, Rosemary rightly suspects her child is alive and is being kept from her.
It soon comes to light that the neighbors belong to a coven of witches, and Guy has made a deal with them to help his career. The real horror, however, is in the true nature of Rosemary’s baby. On Rotten Tomatoes, Rosemary’s Baby has a score of 96%.
4 Spirited Away (2001) – 96%
Spirited Away starts up when Chihiro and her parents are in the middle of moving to a new home and stop at an abandoned amusement park. After eating food that was mysteriously left out, Chihiro’s parents are transformed into pigs. Chihiro is bound to work for the witch Yubaba, who runs a bathhouse and even forcibly changes Chihiro’s name to Sen.
“Sen” is fortunately able to make allies around the bathhouse. Even Yubaba’s identical, yet kinder, sister Zeniba proves to be a grandmother figure to Chihiro, but she is unable to lift the spell on her parents, as the trial will be Chihiro’s to face. In order to earn her freedom, Yubaba ultimately orders the girl to pick out her parents from a large group of identical pigs. Fortunately, Chihiro is able to see the witch is trying to cheat her and she rightly guesses that none of the pigs are her parents. On Rotten Tomatoes, Spirited Away has a score of 96%.
3 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – 97%
Witches are probably most famous as the villains in classic fairy tales, and so they have naturally been a recurring fixture in Disney’s animated films, right from the beginning, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Princess Snow White lives at the mercy of her cruel stepmother, the Queen, who works her like a scullery maid. Envy drives the evil witch to order a huntsman to kill the girl and carve out her heart. Fortunately, with the help of her animal friends, Snow White finds refuge in the woods with seven friendly dwarves.
The Queen learns that Snow White still lives and uses her dark magic to get her revenge. Transforming herself into an old crone, the witch creates a poisoned apple that will trap Snow White in a death-like sleep, all the while cackling that her stepdaughter will be buried alive. As the antagonist of the first animated Disney film, the Queen proved to be a template for later Disney villains. On Rotten Tomatoes, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has a score of 97%.
2 Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – 98%
Kiki’s Delivery Service is an animated film from Japan based on the Eiko Kadono book of the same name. Kiki is a teenage witch who is tasked with starting to new life in a new city as part of a rite of passage to start a year of training. All she has with her is a broom, a radio, and a black cat, Jiji. While in the seaside town of Koriko, Kiki makes new friends and starts her own delivery service.
Despite the supernatural elements at play, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a mostly slice-of-life story, and there is famously no real antagonist or villain. That said, Kiki’s powers are relevant to the plot throughout, as she will lose her powers to fly if she loses her confidence. On Rotten Tomatoes, Kiki’s Delivery Service has a score of 98%.
1 The Wizard of Oz (1939) – 98%
The Wizard of Oz is MGM’s adaptation of the classic L. Frank Baum novel. A young farm girl, Dorothy Gale, is magically transported to the land of Oz, where she encounters witches, both good and bad.
Notably, the Wicked Witch of the West is a relatively minor character in the original book, but is recast as a major recurring threat in the film, targeting Dorothy when she first lands in Oz. Even before that, the witch is even given a counterpart in Kansas, Miss Gulch, who threatens Toto. Conversely, good magic is personified in Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, a composite of the book’s two good witches, who protects Dorothy throughout the story. When the Wicked Witch tries to subdue Dorothy with a field of sleep-inducing poppies, for example, Glinda rescues her party with a snow storm. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Wizard of Oz has a score of 98%.