For All You Know, A Witch Might Be Living Next Door to You: The Witches (1990)

vjskf3d

For all you know, a witch might be living next door to you.

So I’m a giant fan of Roald Dahl, I’ve read pretty much everything he has written.

One book I had never read before was The Witches. I wasn’t really interested in reading about witches.

However, I was able to get a free copy of the book for free and decided to read it. The next step after reading-of course checking out the film version.

Luke Eveshim visits his grandmother in Norway and she tells them all about Witches. Witches hate children and wish to wipe them off the face of the Earth. They can smell a child a mile away.

Helga: Real witches are very cruel, and they have a highly developed sense of smell. A real witch could smell you across the street on a pitch-black night.

Luke: She couldn’t smell me. I’ve just had a shower.

Helga: Oh yes, she could. The cleaner you are, the more a witch can smell you.

Luke: That doesn’t make sense.

Helga: Oh, yes it does. A dirty child, it is the dirt she smells. A clean child, it is the child.

She then goes on to tell him how he can tell a woman is a witch:

  1. They always wear glovesA real witch will always be wearing gloves when you meet her because she doesn’t have finger-nails. Instead of finger-nails, she has thin curvy claws, like a cat, and she wears the gloves to hide them.”
  2. They’ll be as ‘bald as a boiled egg’Not a single hair grows on a witch’s head. You’d think this would make them easy to spot? Wrong! Real witches always wear a wig. And not just any wig. An expensive first class wig that looks like real hair. The only way to check is to give it a pull to see if it comes off.”
  3. They’ll have large nose-holesWitches have the most amazing powers of smell and therefore have slightly larger nose-holes than ordinary people. They can even smell out a child who is standing on the other side of the street on a pitch-black night, and the cleaner you are, the more smelly you are to a witch. Witches call them stink-waves.”
  4. Their eyes change colour– Look carefully into their eyes, right into the middle of the eye where there’s normally a little black dot. If she’s a witch, the black dot will keep changing in colour, and you’ll see fire and you’ll see ice dancing right in the very centre of the coloured dot. It will send shivers running all over your skin.”
  5. They have no toes– Witches don’t have any toes. They just have feet with square ends. A real witch will hide her ugly feet by squeezing them into pretty shoes, which they find extremely uncomfortable. Look very closely and you might see a real witch limping very slightly.”
  6. They have blue spit– Real witches have blue spit, like ink (they even use it to write with). If you look very carefully you might be able to see a slight blueish tinge on their teeth.”

Shortly after, Luke’s parents die and he is to go live with his grandma. He doesn’t mind it too much, but then his grandma becomes ill and can no longer eat sweets. The doctor recommends visiting the English sea to improve her health.

They head out with Luke bringing along his pet mice, even though the manager is very much against it. He warns them that if the mouse is found anywhere not in its cage, they are out of the hotel.

Luke tries to train his mice in secret, running into an overweight boy, Bruno  who only wants to eat and then finds an empty conference room. It soon is filled with the RSPCC-the Prevention of Cruelty to Children group. But this group turns out to be something much different.

When I saw this scene I was like:

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I was an adult watching it. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be to a child.

The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston), the boss, goes over her new plan to destroy all the children in the world.

Grand High Witch: Now, this is my plan: Each of you will go back to your homes… and resign from your jobs. Give notice. Retire. You will then buy with the money I give you…[Irvine gives her the money from the case boxSweet shops. Candy stores. The best and most respectable sweet shops in England. [throws the money, the ladies are picking up the moneyUpstairs: I have a trunkload of this English money… So, you’ll be able to offer three, maybe four times what these shops are worth. Go, go, go.

Yes, her plan is for them to sell chocolate that will transform children into:

Ahhh!

Yep, their plan is pretty sound. The only thing that throws a wrench in it is that Luke has heard the whole thing and is preparing what to do to stop them.

That is until his mouse gets away from him and reveals that he is in the room. The witches see him and turn him into a mouse as well.

Luke has to navigate the hotel, one of which does not allow mice and has said if they find any about the Eveshims will be out.

Luke hurries back to his room as fast as he can in the hopes he can make it to their room without being squished. He hurries as fast as he can and tells his grandma the whole story. The two come up with a plan to steal the Witches formula and stick it in their special banquet soup, turning them all into witches.

There are only two problems: 1) How to get past the hotel staff without being caught.

Hmmm….

And how to change Luke and Bruno back to boys again?

Will they succeed and save the world? Fail and every child be turned into mice?

So I really liked it.

It isn’t like American film, slower paced and has more dialogue than action but I really enjoyed it. Best of all they kept it almost exactly like the book.

When they showed the way the witches looked it was amazing! Completely perfect in how terrifying it is.

I liked the ending of the book better than how they changed it in the end, but the film’s ending would appeal to children more I’m sure.

To start Horrorfest VI, from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For the previous post, go to One Blow to the Head and the Deed is Done: Candlestick (2014)

For more on Roald Dahl, go to Come With Me and You’ll Be in a World of Pure Imagination: Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl

For more on Anjelica Huston, go to Someone Very Special: The Addam’s Family Values (1993)

For more on witches, go to It was a Horseman, a Dead One. Headless: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Come With Me and You’ll Be in a World of Pure Imagination: Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl

So today marks the 100th Birthday of Roald Dahl.

Yay!

Yay!

He was such a big part of my childhood. I mean…how do I explain?

readingabkkid impression identity a part of us You've got mail meg ryan

I mean Matilda was the anthem for kids everywhere who loved to read a lot, and were misunderstood by others

.matildalovetoreadeverything

Then there was the wonderful magic and adventure of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. I mean who didn’t want to visit Wonka’s and get a glimpse at all the wonder inside?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

And you might think it weird that I did a pic from the film, but Roald Dahl actually wrote the script for most of it. The parts were rewritten later as the director thought that it was too much like the book, but the heart of the piece is him.

The sequel, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator wasn’t as good as The Chocolate Factory, but still extremely fun. They go into outer space, save astronauts, and have to fight Vermicious Knids.

Space Mountain

The B.F.G. was such a great book about finding a family, as orphan and outcast Sophie finds a kindred soul in the runt of the litter and always picked on, B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant).

Family

In James & the Giant Peach; dreamer James finds himself the owner of a gigantic peach and sets off to New York City with a crew of insects that range from a spider, to a grasshopper, to a centipede, and more. They have to fight countless obstacles and outwit his cruel aunts.

Adventure

In Fantastic Mr. Fox, a hardworking father tries to care for his family and the forest creatures; all the while trying to outwit the farmers of their wares.

I-got-this-reaction-gif

Sometimes he’s “got this” and other times he really doesn’t.

In George’s Marvelous Medicine, George is constantly tired of his grandmother’s abusive remarks. So he cooks her up a “special medicine” to release his anger, one that she actually drinks! It causes her to grow 20 times her size! Will George be able to change her back? And will he be able to remake the recipe to be sold?

igotstoknow

Boy: Tales of Childhood is a memoir and a great read. Dahl sure was a little scallion when he was growing up. These tales are extremely entertaining, especially the rat story.

felix_the_cat_laughing

Happy Birthday Dahl and thank you for all the wonderful memories and moments you gave me.

readbooks

Such an amazing imagination was an inspiration to us all.

enthusiastroalddahl

Read a Dahl book today!

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

For more on Roald Dahl, go to A Book Only a Reader Could Write

For more book-filled posts, go to It’s Always Tea Time

A Book Only a Reader Could Write

So I wanted to publish this post yesterday, but my computer and I weren’t on the best speaking terms. We have since resolved that issue.

fliptablesangrysurprised

And the computer has since then come along to my way of thinking. So sorry if I’m a day behind, but better late than never!

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

Some books you read and you just know that there was no way this book could ever exist unless the author grew up as a huge fan of reading.

ImReading

Such as Matilda by Roald Dahl. Only someone who grew up reading could create a character that gave a voice to all us bibliophiles out there.

read-i-love-matilda

Or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Only someone who truly loved to read could create the most dismal future, a time when books are outlawed and destroyed. The book is full of glimpses into what might actually happen, unless we take the time to read and value the thoughts and creations found between the pages.

raybradburybooksburnstopreading

Well The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, is definitely one of those books.

neverending_story

The book was first published in 1979 and then translated into English in 1983. As this is it anniversary, thankfully pointed out by Google, I thought it deserved no less than a post by me.

indiana_jonesoh_yesyeah

The story was such a big part of my childhood, with book and film.

loveitSupernatural

So the book begins with young Bastian Balthazar Bux; a shy, awkward, introvert:

introvert

Who has been grieving over the loss of his mother and feels disconnected from his father.

Aw, man.

Aw.

He doesn’t really have any friends and is bullied at school. The one thing that Bastian does have is his books.

nofriendas_loyalasbook

With their help he is able to escape reality:

escaperealityreadbooks

And here is reason number one why this book is awesome and proof, author Ende must have been a reader; he just understands us so well. I mean even today I still like to escape my reality with a good book:

wanttoreadbooksignoreproblem

Anyways, so Bastian is being chased by bullies when he runs into a bookstore owned by Carl Conrad Coreander. While hiding out, he spots the book The Neverending Story.

neverending_story

Bastian just has to have the book, but the ornery shop owner doesn’t seem interested in the idea of selling, and such a book that would be far too expensive. So Bastian does something he has never done before, he steals it.

OMG gasp

He runs up to school, deciding to hide away in the attic, reading the story and being thrust into the world of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film).

LeavehertoHeavenReading

Fantastica is falling apart. The dark nothing is destroying it, piece by piece until it will fade away and there will be nothing left. Only one thing can save them; the childlike empress has chosen Atreyu, a native of the plains, to search throughout Fantastica to discover what can be done. As Bastian reads, he becomes more and more involved with the characters. So wrapped up in the book he stays throughout all his periods, in the cold, all the while starving.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

But that’s silly. They aren’t real people.

Notrealfictionalbookreading

But yet, the characters do seem real. And it almost seems as if they know he exists and is part of the journey with them.

whatdoyouthinkTwilightzoneRealmartianpleasestandup

When Atreyu is traveling he hears what the salvation of Fantastica is:

Born of the Word, the children of man,

Or humans, as they’re sometimes called,

Have had the gift of giving names

Ever since the worlds began,

In every age it’s they who gave

The Childlike Empress life,

For wondrous new names have the power to save.

But now for many and many a day,

No human has visited Fantastica,

For they no longer know the way.

They have forgotten how real we are,

They don’t believe in us anymore.

Oh, if only one child of man would come,

Oh, then at last the thing would be done.”

But where to find such a human child?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

Atreyu continues on his journeys, getting help from Falkor, the luck dragon.

One of the best parts of the book, at least I think so, is when Atreyu faces Gmork, the werewolf. Gmork has become an agent of the Nothing, trying to destroy Fantastica and along with it the human world. Without Fantastica, the world is filled with lies instead of truth, despair instead of hope, destruction instead of creation; pretty much containing nothing.

I love this part as it shows why stories and books are so important. They help us create, they give us hope, dreams, ideas, etc. We need stories, we need hope, we need it as much as we need life.

book _wayneedairrichardmarek

And we need to start reading at a young age; so we can have the foundations to fight against all the darkness we will face as we grew older.

fairytalesfightdragonsdefeat

So Atreyu returns to the Empress, defeated. He has no way to stop the nothing. He has failed.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

But the empress is not upset at all. In fact, she says that Atreyu has fulfilled his mission. He has brought a human child here through all his adventures. And she is talking about Bastian!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

The reader has been called into the story? And not just called, but the hero! How cool is that! And how awesome if that could happen. Can you just imagine if the characters started talking to you in the middle of your favorite story?

So cool, I want it to be true.

So cool, I want it to be true.

This is my favorite part of the book, the second half isn’t as strong (in my opinion) as the first half. But still one great book.

ReadBookCarryWithYou

The movie was just as amazing. Now they did make changes, but I thought it kept the soul and heart of the book. I used to watch it over and over.

watch movie over and over

Even now I cannot think or say the words “Neverending Story” without singing them like in the film’s song.

I recently showed the film to my niece and realized I am not only like Bastian, but Coreander. Yes, I have the soul of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like the youth’s fascination with technology rather than books.

bookbetterthanTV

The rest of the story is just as beautiful, fascinating, adventurous, and powerful. And don’t forget the end of the film when the childlike Empress is talking right to you.  Shivers run up and down my spine, it is so good.

Creepy!

I mean I feel like she is talking right to me!

OMG gasp

The other movies I didn’t really enjoy, but that first one was a true winner.

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

So there you have it. One amazing book that I am glad existed to become a part of my childhood, in both print and on the screen.

bookbaggage

And you can bet your boots I will most definitely be checking out the film Sunday when they rerelease it in theaters. Don’t worry childlike Empress, Fantastic/Fantasia will always exist as long as I am alive!

StepasiderealityBook

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

For more on The Neverending Story, go to The Neverending Story

For more anniversary posts, go to Here’s to Another Year

For more book-filled posts, go to A World of Teas

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

For more Roald Dahl, go to We Shall Rule the World!

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Ernest Hemingway, go to Fiction or Reality? I Choose Fiction

For more Markus Zusak, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more Richard Marek, go to Crazy Book Lady