For years, decades, even half of centuries, there has been a traditional and standard set of monsters used in horror: vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, and mutated creatures. These things of nightmares have been in countless amounts of movies, books, and television shows, and they never seem to tire of the attention (nor do viewers.) They only seem to trend in certain years and then fade; only to slowly progress back into the cultural spotlight. For the past 4 or 5 years, the zombie obsession devoured pop culture. Virtually every horror movie revolved around a zombie, a zombie virus outbreak, a zombie apocalypse, or a new and improved spin on zombies and how they behave. The Walking Dead is probably the main culprit for this uprising of reborn fascinating with the undead, honestly. I don’t even watch the show because it’s just too zombie. Zombie here, zombie there. Zombies every episode. Blah, zombies. Along with this exposure, literally every kind of merchandise imaginable held some kind of relation to zombies: t-shirts, mugs, stickers, car window clings, robes, nail decals, necklaces, and even pet clothes, for Christ’s sake. Everybody loved zombies or everyone claimed to be a zombie themselves. It was a weird time. Not to mention the fact that this resurrected craze also brought back the “eat some brains since you don’t have any” joke. And here I had been praying that stupid thing was dead and gone. It had gotten so bad that Netflix was forced to create an entirely separate category for ‘Zombie Movies,’ a strand of sub par, horrendous flicks that gain attention just because the word “zombie” is in the title.
Recently, the focus on zombies has shifted slightly. Directors are now making films with actual story lines and only a sprinkling of zombies. The shift is also bringing to light the newest contender against the zombie obsession, the long time staple in both horror and folklore: witches.
We all know different seasons of fantasy shows, and even sequels, prequels, and trilogies, rely on old villains and monsters to spice things up. American Horror Story did just that in it’s third season, Coven, a story line revolving around power hungry supreme witches and young teenage sorceresses who dress way too cool for school. It made being a “witchy woman” hip again. These girls donned black Children of the Corn hats, pentagram and raw crystal jewelry, and dark lipsticks, directly affecting the real fashion world. Being a witch-bitch was totally in. And unlike many of the stereotypical monster roles, women tend to dominate the witch category, giving it an entirely different feel and allows women to be a hero or a villain, a good witch or a bad witch, and not just a victim.
Not long after Coven aired, 2014 brought yet another witch show, Salem. Set in 17th century Massachusetts, it dabbles in both history and drama, spreading the witch fever to even more audiences. While this show is one of many depictions of the witchcraft hysteria, it delivers it with gnarly special effects and nudity. Hell yeah. A few weeks ago, Vin Diesel’s newest venture was presented, entitled The Last Witch Hunter. Honestly, it looks incredibly bad and quite comparable to another flop, Nicolas Cage‘s Season of the Witch. Penny Dreadful‘s second season has also opted for the witch theme, going much further and much darker into the subject and history of witches. The latest episode reminded viewers that witches aren’t cute housewives or stunning models with magic powers. They are branded, hideous, and seriously evil Satan worshipers. These writers are managing to make witches a lot more scarier.
As if this wasn’t enough witchery among us, Sony announced a remake to the 1996 film, The Craft, a cult film about- you guessed it- witches. Although this news wasn’t completely well received (Fairuza Baulk herself commenting on Twitter than even she didn’t see the need for a remake,) it will no doubt continue the witch trend into 2016/2017.
Let’s just hope that witches don’t conquer to the extent of zombies. Then again, did witches really leave?