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Film Review: “Witching And Bitching”
















This fast paced, Spanish film is simultaneously a really disturbing horror tale, a meditation on the battle of the sexes, and one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. Things get off to a lightning start with a holdup of a gold buying emporium in downtown Madrid by criminals posing as living statues with a critical assist provided by a ten year old accomplice, one of the wildest film heist scenes I’ve ever seen and worth the price of admission alone. Seriously, you’ll never forget the sight of a gold painted Jesus sprinting for his life while toting a little kid who’s shooting back two handed at the police.

A beginning like that would be hard to surpass, but W&B continues to pile it on under Alex de la Iglesia’s masterful direction. Having commandeered a cab whose driver willingly agrees to assist them, the criminals try to flee north to France to escape the law and to fulfill the promise made by the leader, José (Hugo Silva), to take his son to Disneyworld in Paris, with the police and José’s divorced wife in hot pursuit. Already a tense situation for the hapless thieves, things take a decided turn for the weird and the worse when they reach the witch infested town of Zugarramurdi, in the heart of Basque country. Led by a three generation family (the oldest witch reminded me of Grandmama from the Addams Family), the witches capture the thieves with malign designs upon them, namely to use the men as sacrifices to restore an oppressive matriarchy.

The pace rarely lets up and the jokes fly fast and furious, interspersed with over the top, gross out scenes of gore. The men lament their inability to get along with women only to find themselves trapped in a decaying mansion (is there any other kind in a horror movie?) by a bunch of smiling, evil, literal witches who want to torture, kill, and eat them. They fight back as best they can, but their fates ultimately depend upon the attraction felt by the youngest witch in the family (well played by the stunningly beautiful Carolina Bang) for bumbling José.  The climactic scene of a Witches’ Sabbath simply has to be seen to be believed, but I won’t give away any spoilers.

About the only real criticism I have of this film is the English title, which I don’t think accurately conveys what the film’s about. The Spanish title, Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi, The Witches Of Zugarramurdi, was apparently a non-starter due to the long, difficult Basque place name. This minor cavil aside, this was a crackerjack movie, absolutely entertaining from start to finish.

I recommend this film to horror fans who don’t mind comedy mixed in with the scares (some horror fans are big purists that way) and anybody who likes a good laugh in general, although I will provide the trigger warning that this is not for anyone with a weak stomach.

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