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The Witches (1990 film) facts for kids

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The Witches
The Witches (1990 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Screenplay by Allan Scott
Music by Stanley Myers
Cinematography Harvey Harrison
Editing by Tony Lawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) 25 May 1990 (1990-05-25) (United Kingdom)
24 August 1990 (1990-08-24) (United States)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Money made $15.3 million

The Witches is a 1990 dark fantasy comedy film directed by Nicolas Roeg, produced by Jim Henson and starring Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher. It is based on the 1983 book of the same name by Roald Dahl. As in the original novel, the story features evil witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, and a boy and his grandmother must find a way to foil their plans.

The film was produced by Jim Henson Productions for Lorimar Film Entertainment as the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar before the company shut down in 1993. The film was very well received by critics, but performed poorly at the box office; however, it has retained a cult following over the years.


During a vacation with his grandmother Helga in Norway, 8-year-old American boy, Luke Eveshim, is warned about witches, female demons who have a boundless hatred for children and who use various methods of destroying or transforming them. Helga tells Luke how to tell a witch from an ordinary woman: real witches have claws instead of fingernails which they hide by wearing gloves, are bald which they hide by wearing wigs that give them rashes, have square feet with no toes which they hide by wearing sensible shoes, have a purple tinge in their pupils and have a powerful sense of smell which they use to sniff out children; to a witch, children stink of dog's droppings; the dirtier the child, the less likely she is to smell them. Helga says her childhood friend, Erica, fell victim to a witch and was cursed to spend the rest of her life trapped inside a painting, aging gradually until finally disappearing a few years earlier.

After Luke's parents are killed in a car accident, Helga becomes Luke's legal guardian and they move to England. While playing outside in a treehouse, Luke is approached by a witch trying to lure him with a snake and a chocolate bar, so he stays in his treehouse for protection and the witch goes away. On Luke's 9th birthday, Helga falls ill with diabetes. Her doctor advises they spend the summer by the sea. At their seaside hotel, Luke meets and befriends a gluttonous but friendly boy, Bruno Jenkins. Luke gets on the bad side of the hotel manager, Mr. Stringer, after his pet mice frighten his maid girlfriend. Also at the hotel is a convention of witches, masquerading as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The Grand High Witch, who is the all-powerful leader of the world's witches, is attending under the name Eva Ernst.

Luke hides inside the ballroom and spies on the witches' meeting. Eva unveils her latest creation: a magic potion to turn all the world's children into mice. The potion will be used in confectionery products in sweet shops and candy stores to be purchased using money provided by Eva. Bruno, who was given the potion earlier, is brought into the room, turns into a mouse and flees. Luke is discovered and runs to Helga in their room but finds her resting after having a diabetes-induced dizzy spell. The witches seize Luke in the room and take him back to the ballroom, where he is forced to drink the potion and turned into a mouse before escaping. He finds Bruno and reunites with Helga, who has since recovered. Luke devises a plan to defeat the witches by sneaking into Eva's room to steal a bottle of the potion, then sneaking into the kitchen and put it into the soup for the special RSPCC party. Luke and Helga try to get Bruno to his parents, but they do not believe her story and are frightened by the mouse.

Mr. Jenkins orders the soup, though Helga stops him from consuming it. The Jenkins' finally realize Bruno is a mouse when he speaks up. As the witches enter the dining room, Miss Susan Irvine, Eva's long-suffering and mistreated assistant, quits upon being banned from the celebration. The formula turns all the witches into mice, and the staff and hotel guests join in killing them, unknowingly ridding England of its witches. In the midst of the chaos, Helga spots the transformed Eva and traps her under a water jug before helpfully pointing her out to Mr. Stringer, who chops her in two with a meat cleaver. She then returns Bruno to his bewildered parents. Luke and Helga return home to where Eva's trunk full of money and an address book of all witches in the United States is delivered, allowing them to plan an operation to wipe out all the witches in America. That night, Miss Irvine, now a good witch, drives to Luke and Helga's house and transforms Luke back to human form, and returns his pet mice and glasses. She leaves to pay Bruno a visit, as Luke and Helga wave goodbye.


  • Anjelica Huston as Eva Ernst / Grand High Witch, the all-powerful leader of the world's witches. Huston also voices her rat form.
  • Mai Zetterling as Helga Eveshim, an old woman who is an old enemy of the Grand High Witch
  • Jasen Fisher as Luke Eveshim, Helga's grandson. Fisher also voices his mouse form.
  • Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Stringer, the hotel owner/manager
  • Charlie Potter as Bruno Jenkins, a gluttonous boy who befriends Luke. Potter also voices his mouse form.
  • Bill Paterson as Mr. Jenkins, Bruno's father
  • Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Jenkins, Bruno's mother
  • Anne Lambton as Pamela / Woman in Black, an unnamed witch dressed in black who tries to entice Luke with chocolate and a snake
  • Jane Horrocks as Miss Irvine, the mistreated assistant of the Grand High Witch
  • Sukie Smith as Marlene
  • Rose English as Dora
  • Jenny Runacre as Elsie, a witch who works as a maid in the hotel
  • Annabel Brooks as Nicola Cuttle, a Witch from England
  • Emma Relph as Mildred, a witch.
  • Nora Connolly as Beatrice, a witch who is killed by the Grand High Witch for arguing with her
  • Rosamund Greenwood as Janice, a witch.
  • Anjelique Rockas as Henrietta, a witch who asks about the Grand High Witch's plan
  • Stella Tanner as Lois Leffour, a witch from Southampton, England
  • Barbara Hicks as Regina, a witch
  • Ann Tirard as Lady 1/Witch at meeting
  • Leila Hofman as Lady 2/Witch at meeting
  • Jim Carter as Head Chef, the unnamed head of the hotel's kitchen staff
  • Roberta Taylor as Witch Chef, a witch who works as a chef in the hotel's kitchens
  • Debra Gillett as Waitress
  • Darcy Flynn as Luke's Mother, the late mother of Luke
  • Vincent Marzello as Luke's Father, the late father of Luke
  • Serena Harragin as Doctor
  • Grete Nordrå as Norwegian Witch
  • Kristen Steinsland as Child Helga
  • Elsie Eide as Erica
  • Merete Armand as Erica's Mother
  • Ola Otnes as Erica's Father
  • Johan Sverre as Policeman
  • Arvid Ones as Policeman
  • Sverre Rossummoen as Policeman
  • Michael Palin as Witch at Meeting
  • Wendy Lowder as Witch at Meeting
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