As reported by Variety, The Witches is set for a new film adaptation from director Robert Zemeckis (known for such classics as Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and producer Guillermo Del Toro.
The Witches was written in 1973 by the iconic Roald Dahl, known for such beloved and darkly comic works as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The novel was first adapted for the screen in 1990 starring Angelica Houston, whose witchy transformation fuelled the nightmares of an entire generation of children (absolute queen that she is).
The story follows Luke, a young boy who goes to live with his grandmother after his parents die (always a positive note to start on) and discovers that she’s a bona-fide (yet retired) witch hunter. Luke soon discovers a convention of witches (as one does) as they reveal their new monstrous plot to turn children into mice.
Zemeckis will both serve as director and write the screenplay for the new adaptation. We don’t have any details on how potentially dark the film might be, but according to Variety, “sources close to the project say Zemeckis’ version will be more rooted in the original source material, while the Huston pic was a loose adaptation”.
Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 film adaptation of The Witches has rightly earned its place in the hearts of many, but Roald Dahl was notably displeased with the film, calling it “utterly appalling”.
If this new version does stick closer to the source material, that could certainly be a good thing (though we doubt we’ll get any direct feedback from Dahl – he passed away in November of 1990); the children’s book has some surprisingly violent moments with themes of hatred and fear.
The Witches will be produced by Zemeckis with his partner Jack Rapke (through their banner ImageMovers) along with Academy Award winner/genre darling Guillermo Del Toro and Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Gravity).
Del Toro had previously been attached as the film’s director, but had to pass along the torch due to a scheduling conflict.
Zemeckis has previously worked in the horror genre as a producer on Thir13en Ghosts, What Lies Beneath, Tales from the Crypt, Bordello of Blood, The Frighteners, and House on Haunted Hill.
Again, it’s hard to predict what we can expect from this new adaptation, but the collected team sounds promising. If you’re keen to have a creepy new film to enjoy with the young’uns, this could certainly be one to watch out for.