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LITTLE WITCHES by Random Movie Club
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Tagline: Forgive Me Father, For I Am Sin

Pizza: Pagliacci's



The movie we watched tonight, LITTLE WITCHES, was filmed in two weeks, which raises the question, Why did they need that long?

I actually own this guiltiest of pleasures movie on a prerecorded VHS. Why? Because I caught it on cable in the 90s and fell in love with it. I fell in love with the trashy music ("Who's gonna make it rain...."). I fell in love with the way the movie just sort of ends, out of nowhere, with nothing really explained. I fell in love with the demon, which looks like a rubber head you can buy in the $8.97 bin at Party City (and it's not even worn on someone's head!). I fell in love with the brilliant decision to name the one girl who has faith Faith. But mostly, I fell in love with actress Sheeri Rappaport, who besides being hot as any hell that a Horned Demon would rise from, embraced the fact that she was in an MST3K-worthy movie, yet still gave it her best. Amid all the crap that is LITTLE WITCHES, Rappaport's performance is a standout. The only standout.

LITTLE WITCHES (1996) begins with girls walking in a circle around a well while doing incantations. Soon, a beast emerges from the well. Well, not a beast, more like a latex glove with long nails. Just as the girls are about to sacrifice a virgin, the day is saved by the Lord's guardian (an unseen woman in a robe), and we're told that "the Horned Demon cannot come while I am alive." This is all well and good had we paid attention, as this scene occurred over the opening credits and appeared to be background filler. But we were wrong. Turns out this was waaaaay important. I mean, if plot's your thing.

But that was then (it was a flashback) and this is now. It's present day in a catholic school and Sister Sherilyn (Jennifer Rubin) is teaching her class, which of course has a troublemaker...Jamie (Sheeri Rappaport-Nathanson). And because of Jamie's attitude, she finds herself with an assignment to write a paper on Macbeth (I believe there were a few little witches in that play as well).

A group of girls are all staying behind at the school during Easter break. Besides bad girl Jamie, there's good girl Faith (Mimi Reichmeister, does that translate to Mimi Master Empire?), Nicole (Zoe Alexander), Kelcey (Clea Duvall, in her first and most embarrassing role), Erica (Melissa Taub) and Gina (Lalaneya Hamilton). This crafty coven of Catholic schoolgirls take turns in the confessional in a contest to see who will receive the most minutes to think about "the immensity of God!"
This punishment is handed out by Father Michael (Eraserhead himself, Jack Nance). Of course, my girl Sheeri wins, racking up a full 20 minutes by merely unbuttoning her shirt, spilling out her left breast, lifting her skirt and writhing as she toys (not in that way!) with the Father.

Luckily, a construction crew featuring a guy named Daniel (Tommy Stork) is at the school to do earthquake restructuring. Daniel takes his shirt off, and...ya know...the more I write this up, the more it feels like I'm writing a porn film. Anyway, from the look on Faith's face (licking her lips was the giveaway), we see that she fancies Daniel. He enters the kitchen that night saying to Faith, "I should have listened to you." Listened to her about what, you ask? Well, we don't know either, as they obviously cut that scene out. But it sure looks like Faith, who's never had a boyfriend, might just get lucky with this hunk/dullard. Wait...she's never had a boyfriend? That makes her a...oh wait, I don't want to give away the ending.

Meanwhile, somewhere in this academy lurks the seldom seen Mother Clodah, who gets her meals left at her door. Clodah is played by POLTERGEIST "housecleaner" Zelda Rubinstein.

Soon, we learn that this academy has a skeleton in the closet. Not their actual closet, but in a secret area under the church that is discovered by the construction crew. It's the skeleton of one of the illuminati girls we saw in the prologue. Anyway, Jamie and crew are actually standing there when the police remove the blanket from the rotted corpse. Why the girls are allowed to watch this grotesque reveal is beyond me. Must be the same reason the ambulance drives away with the mummified corpse in the back...with its siren on.

So the restless girls decide to hold a seance down in the no-longer-secret room. When the seance doesn't work, they decide that if they take their clothes off, they'll have a better chance. Finally...something makes sense in this movie.


One of the many things that remains unexplained, and not in a good way, is why these girls want to summon the Horned Demon in the first place. The only excuse they have is when Jamie says, "Do you have anything better to do?" And what about when one of the girls secretly moves the clock back from 7:50 to 7:25? It's apparently a move to sabotage Faith's date with Daniel, but we never see that plan in action, so I'm not quite sure. Plus, when they cut back to the clock, it's back at 7:50. Huh?? This movie is bananas. And how is it that when Faith calls 911, our girls are on the extension pretending to be the 911 operator. Telephones don't work that way. Oh? They're witches, you say? Well maybe they are, but I didn't know witches had the power over telephony, but perhaps I'm just wrong about that. Other shenanigans include the world famous "salad exchange," where they swap a salad out for a poisonous salad, and a scene involving strangulation by fishing line. And at one point, taking a page from the Lenny and Squiggy Playbook; at the moment they realize they need virgin blood, in walks Faith.

LITTLE WITCHES makes an attempt to have us understand these characters (Jamie's been physically abused by her dad and Faith's dad recently died), but it's all thin and ultimately unsatisfying. Writers Dino Vindeni and Brian Dimuccio have written themselves into an abyss of Who Cares? Director Jane Simpson (a guy would have been criticized for making such a wonderfully hot, I mean, such an obvious exploitation film) makes a crappy script crappier with endless cutaways to a beach to show the passage of time. Although arguably accurate, having a banner in the opening credits read "A Film By Jane Simpson" made me laugh the hardest. On that note, my favorite part of the movie, hands down, was when Jamie is at the window, trying to get the construction workers' attention. She growls, "Hey baybee!!" It's surely a "you had to be there" moment, but man, it just kills me dead. If it does nothing for you, perhaps you'll be entertained by her striptease that follows.

Rappaport's career didn't flourish all that much post-WITCHES, but she did have recurring roles on both NYPD BLUE (Officer Mary Franco) and CSI (fingerprint guru Mandy Webster). You know what I wish? I wish she would break big, because as I said earlier, she's good. And how cool would it be if she was huge and had LITTLE WITCHES in her early career. It sure would give a lot of people hope.

Clea DuVall's made a little career for herself, working steadily (most recently on TV's THE EVENT). Sadly, this was the second to last film for David Lynch stable/staple Jack Nance, who supposedly died from a punch to the face after an altercation at a doughnut shop at 5am.

Here's an amazing fact about LITTLE WITCHES. It's not on DVD. It was, once, but not anymore. I don't think it even made it to the millennium. But that's not the amazing part. Check out eBay and Amazon Marketplace. At the time of this writing, the DVD is going for $224 new and $98 used.

LITTLE WITCHES was released straight to video on December 23, 1996 (talk about a stocking stuffer), only months after its grown-up sister THE CRAFT hit theaters. While THE CRAFT was an okay movie, in a way, WITCHES gives you more bang for the buck with its unintentional badness and fun moments. It was nominated for an International Fantasy Film Award, which is idiotic, unless they meant "fantasy" not as in sci-fi but as in sexual. How can a film like this win any non-Razzie Award? I mean, come on, the creature looks like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Okay. I believe it's taken me more time to write about LITTLE WITCHES than it took for them to make it. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not 100% sure if that "Hey Baybee!" is before or after the striptease that I mentioned earlier. I better fire up the VCR and check. Don't wait up.



JAWS-Inside Story by Random Movie Club
I won't go into a whole 2000+ page dissertation on how much I love JAWS, and how it changed the whole movie business. I don't have to. It's all in this spectacular documentary, featuring all the main players they could get (Spielberg, Dreyfuss, producer Richard Zanuck, studio big gun Sid Sheinberg and lots more).

JAWS is an amazing movie, yes, but equally amazing is what they went through to get it made. While the documentary harbors (pun!) nothing any Jaws-loving geek doesn't know, it's so enjoyable to hear it from the mouths of the people who made it. Between Spielberg thinking he was getting fired...every day (he didn't even want the gig in the first place) to Dreyfuss' many refusals to be in it (he only agreed after he thought his career was over when he saw his performance in the just released THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ), to the famously non-working shark. Yep, they were working "without a script, without a cast and without a shark."

There are so many good stories told, like the one about author Peter Benchley who was broke (I did say author, right?) and sitting on the beach when the idea came to him. And how writer Carl Gottlieb, fresh from THE ODD COUPLE, came in to give the script some humor and personality. And by far, the best story is how director Dick Richards, who was on the project before Spielberg, kept calling the shark a whale. He was shortly swapped out with Spielberg.


As much as I recommend LITTLE WITCHES, I recommend JAWS: THE INSIDE STORY more. But with WITCHES going for so much money (
http://tinyurl.com/4mbeqxv) and JAWS: THE INSIDE STORY for $25 (http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=268714) , maybe if you made it to Random Movie Club, you wouldn't have all your financial problems.

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