The basic premise is that a group of catholic school girls that are misfits or outcasts in some way end up dabbling in witchcraft. They become more and more obsessed until one of the girls begins to question the “bad girl” leader and a final confrontation occurs. Does this sound familiar? Congratulations, you’ve seen The Craftbefore. Both of these movies came out in 1996 with Little Witches being released 9 months later. While the plot is “more than a coincidence” similar, the actual way in which it plays out ends up being much different.
Little Witches decided to focus a lot more on the Catholic than the school girls part. They girls are all staying over Easter break at the catholic boarding school in Santa Generic Name, California. You start with a confession scene wear our young protagonists tell the priest their sins while being given bored platitudes on faith, even when the “bad girl” starts doing sexy talk the priest is still just disinterested. They girls also use this as a kind of contest seeing who got the most minutes of reflection as punishment. Oh, speaking of Faith, the main “good girl” is named Faith. So there’s that. The film really seems dismissive of the religion to start and then gets more into it as it goes along.
The movie really seems like it’s doing this “slippery slope” of the occult and depravity. At first the girls are just going to do a séance. This leads to them having to steal candles and wine from the church. Then they need to get naked because “anything modern blocks the energy” and begin chanting around. This leads to finding an actual magic book of summoning that leads to murder and trying to raise the devil. It pretty much plays out like a Chick tract with the only two people to survive are the virgins that love Jesus.
The nudity in this film is actually used in interesting ways. It is always presented as a way to gain power. The bad girl does a strip tease at her window for the construction crew below after being rejected by one of them earlier and so tries to gain attention and power over them. The aforementioned séance has them get naked in order to gain access to more power. Sexuality is used continually in conjunction with control. On the other side of it, though, it also condemns this as the nudity is always used in “inappropriate” and “ungodly” ways. It is ultimately punished when the girls do sort of summon the demon which “penetrates” one of them with a spike and takes another back down into the pit with him.
Unrelated interesting things. For a movie about “sexy witches” one of the friends is actually an overweight girl. No magic is used to make her thin or more attractive and she participates just as much in the nudity as the others. Which would be a great way of saying that fat people can also be sexy and all sorts of other empowering things but it then goes right on ahead and makes her eating the butt of several jokes. I am disappoint. Also, the Mother Superior is Zelda “This house is clean” Rubinstein of Poltergeist fame. Also also, this is Clea Duvall’s first role in a movie.
So this wasn’t terrible as far as knock-offs go. While nowhere near as entertaining or well done as The Craft, it does at least have things happening and isn’t a bunch of filler. It does however make it so that the Latin translation of the evil book rhymes in English and that always amuses/annoys me. I’d give this a 2 out of 5. Probably could have been better if it was a bit more focused on what it wanted to present as horrific and less on getting teen girls to dance naked.