Review: Feminism in comedy flick ‘The Witches of Eastwick’

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"...fly witch, fly..." by dhammza is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

‘The Witches of Eastwick’ comments on modern day feminism.

Hannah Rosman, news correspondent

“The Witches of Eastwick” has it all: flaming cellos, voodoo dolls and cherry pits. What more could you want from a zany Halloween flick?

“The Witches of Eastwick” is a 1987 dark, funny camp classic, directed by George Miller and loosely based on John Updike’s novel of the same name. In this silly take on the supernatural, three dissatisfied and lonely women, played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon, unwittingly form a coven when they share fantasies about their ideal man. 

Their wishes seem to be answered when a mysterious man named Daryl Van Horne, played by the uniquely terrifying Jack Nicholson, appears in their small town and is soon revealed to be none other than the devil. He individually seduces each of the women and shows them how to use their magical powers, and the women are quickly ostracized from the community for their promiscuity and possible otherworldly powers. Ultimately, Daryl becomes increasingly malicious and controlling, leading to the climactic scene where the women team up using their feminine wiles and a healthy dose of magic to destroy Daryl. 

Despite its inability to pass the Bechdel Test, the test to see if two female characters have a conversation that is not about a man, this film largely gets its compelling edge from the fiercely feminist energy Cher, Pfeiffer and Sarandon bring to the second half of the film. 

Nicholson’s pitch-perfect performance goes from knowingly sly to indulgently sinister to almost rabid, and it should definitely not be discounted. The high-intensity hijinks and over-the-top gore that occurs as he traipses around the small New England town setting, leaving chaos in his wake, are also essential to what makes this romp so enjoyable. Not to mention the extravagant sets and costumes, which utilize one of the most lurid color palettes to have ever graced the silver screen. 

However, getting to watch three beautiful and strong ladies take on a toxic man, as well as the uptight patriarchal attitudes of their town, is what takes an already fun-to-watch flight of fancy and makes it deeply cathartic and empowering.

While “The Witches of Eastwick” is perfect for a girls’ night at any time during the year, it is an especially great October movie. It will definitely set the mood for Halloween, while also serving as a comedic reprieve from some of the more truly terrifying horror movies. Although this movie is never really convincingly scary, it is quite gross at times —  it is bound to make you think about cherries in a whole new way. But this film is so delicious that it is worth the queasiness it will almost certainly cause.