It’s the witchy season, and we’re all about adding a pointy black hat to any outfit, especially historical costumes. Except that’s not really a good historical witch look, just a cheesy Halloween prop store thing! No worries, we found a few more historical style witches to celebrate October with. These are my top five, but they aren’t the only ones.
Helen Mirren as Morgana in Excalibur (1981)
OK, this is a fantasy medieval flick, but anything with an actual witch as character is bordering on fantasy already. Morgana is something of an archetypical witch who uses both feminine wiles and magic for revenge and power. Alas, the costumes in this movie are crazytown, but hey, it’s still Dame Helen!
Lara Parker as Angélique Bouchard Collins in Dark Shadows (1966-1971)
One of my early spooky influences was this horror soap opera, and Angélique is a seriously wonderful bad bitch! Her failed romance with Barnabas Collins in the early 19th century is at the heart of the story, having resulted in him becoming a vampire. She eventually travels forward to the present day in search of him, they both time-travel to the 1890s and then the 1840s. The whole thing is ludicrous fun with ’60s bouffants aplenty.
Miranda Richardson as Lady Mary Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow (1999)
This Tim Burton-directed frock flick is perfect for Halloween, with gothic costumes and creepy settings. Lady Van Tassel isn’t a typical witch, but it turns out that she’s the one making the Headless Horseman terrorize the town. She’s wonderfully wicked, plus she has a stunning wardrobe by Colleen Atwood.
Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole aka Madame Kali from Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)
The mysterious spiritualist Madame Kali shows up in the first season of this show leading a seance. In the second season, it’s revealed that she’s a witch leading a deadly coven. This two-faced role is deliciously perfect for Helen McCrory who plays serious then insane so easily.
Janet Montgomery as Mary Sibley in Salem (2014-2017)
This show drove me nuts, and not in a good way! Great concept of having actual witches at the Salem witch trials, but the character development was really off (and apparently this was due to problems in the writers’ room for Season 1, which I couldn’t get past). But I’ll hand it to them for creating powerful witch characters with outrageously beautiful costumes.
Who’s your favorite historical witch in movies or TV? Who would you add to this list?