Witching & Bitching Bubbling To Become Cult Classic

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Witching & Bitching on DVD

“Witching & Bitching” is a campy, off the cuff, over the top sci-fi comedy that just screams to be the next cult classic. This film by Alex De La Iglesia is made in Spain with English subtitles and is available on DVD from IFC films.

The plot revolves around two bungling thieves, Jose (Hugo Silva) and Antonio (Mario Casas) who are fresh off their hold-up of a gold-buying store. Jose brings his son Sergio (Gabriel Delgado) with them on the heist because it’s his day to keep him and he doesn’t want to lose any custody. (He’s robbing the store because he can’t pay his ex-wife, Silvia, played by Macarena Gomez, alimony.) Joining them is an unsuspecting hostage-turned-accomplice taxi driver Manuel (Jaime Ordonez) and his clueless to the end passenger billed only as “El Hombre De Badajoz” (Manuel Tallafe). Add to this mix a coven—nay, a town--of witches, two bungling cops, and a guy who lives under the toilet drain in the witches’ restaurant bathroom, and you have a recipe for a real roller coaster of a ride.

When their heist goes wrong, Jose’, Antonio and Sergio hijack the cab driven by Manuel (with the passenger in back) and start a wild car chase as they try to get across the border into France where they feel they will be safe with their stolen gold (which is just old gold wedding bands that people have hocked for money). The only thing blocking their path is a town that is famous for being home to an evil group of witches. With Jose’s ex-wife in hot pursuit, and the two cops tailing her because they think she is involved with the robbery, Jose and Antonio convince Manuel to drive through the town--with disastrous, gory and often very funny results.

As you follow the dialogue between Jose, Antonio and Manuel, you get the feeling this film is going to be a woman-bashing movie, and that all the world’s evils are caused by them. And, in fact, as the movie plays out, it was all too clear to me that women, all women, were witches born of evil, bent on taking over the world and enslaving all mankind!

As I watched, I kept seeing similarities to many sci-fi and fantasy movies. It was like the director was paying homage to all the movies he liked growing up by incorporating elements from many of them in this film. I could see elements of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Ghost Busters,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Evil Dead, Army of Darkness,” and “Re-animator,” as well as TV shows The Munsters, The Addams Family and even Car 54!

At times the horror and dialogue go over the top by trying to be shocking and irreverent, and the humor is slapstick, off-the-cuff and slightly situational. The special effects, which I thought were going to be low tech, turned out to be just the opposite. I was thinking it was only going to be shot in a couple of sets with very little CGI or other high-tech effects, and only a handful of characters. In fact there is a quite a bit of very, very good effects (and cheesy ones too), and a huge cast. This was no small production by any means.

A lot of the dialog is spoken very quickly (as you would imagine, with people are trying to escape from the law and witches). This makes it a little tough to keep up with the subtitles if you don’t read very fast, which I don’t. The humor and horror comes through the subtitles just fine, so you don’t really miss anything, but I surmise some things are lost in translation.

 

 

I love the characters in this movie, my favorites of which are the witches. There are many of them, but the main ones are a family, comprised of a grandmother Maritxu (Terele Pa’vez, who reminds me of Lilly Munster), the mother Miren (Santiago Segura), the rebellious young emo daughter Eva (Carolina Bang) who ends up falling for Jose’, and her brother Luismi (Javier Botet) who lives in a room under the bathroom toilet drain (no there are no pipes).

After our heroes are caught by the witches, we see the plot start to unfold and learn how our hapless hooligans figure into the witches’ scheme of taking back the world. The thieves just happen to have the thing the witches need to complete a ritual -- and they’re also the main course at the dinner party the witches are throwing before the ritual! There were times during this part of the movie where I kept expecting to hear “Let’s do the Time Warp again!”

I was quite pleased by the way this movie surprised me. I laughed a lot, and was visually impressed at the level of makeup, sets and special effects. I wasn’t really scared or shocked much, as I have seen way too many horror movies that did what this one achieved and even more so, but that is okay. I will say there is a scene where the grandmother puts her teeth in that is very memorable and could be the stuff of nightmares for young children.

This movie is destined to become a cult (pun intended) classic and well worth an adult Halloween party fright fest viewing.

The extras on this DVD are pretty straightforward and short, and are all subtitled and narrated by (I believe) De La Iglesia.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0