Thursday, February 4, 2010

Female Villains in Horror: The Wicked Witch of the West

Yeah, most people would be fairly pissed if someone dropped a house on their sister.
But I get the impression she was heartless and cruel well before that tragedy struck.

In 1939, a villain was born who was so evil, she has no doubt given children nightmares ever since. The Wicked Witch of the West, as played by Margaret Hamilton in the brilliant film The Wizard Of Oz, gave new meaning to scary.
The WWotW wasn't in much of the original book that the movie is based on, but I am so glad they decided to expand the character for the film.

This is a villain of the highest proportions. She has no remorse and thinks of nothing but her own gain and revenge. She has a team of flying monkeys for pete's sake! Ugly monkeys at that. Ugly monkeys who are forced to wear really silly little costumes (but that's another story...)

When she found out Dorothy killed her sister in crime, she set out to pretty much destroy her. She wants those ruby slippers, dammit! So she begins her rampage against the little girl from Kansas, and is hell bent on getting her revenge.

Poofing in and out of places in clouds of smoke, maliciously setting the Scarecrow on fire, poisoning the poppies with a sleeping potion, flying menacing messages overhead ("Surrender Dorothy!), sending those creepy monkeys after the group, kidnapping Dorothy with the intent to kill her and steal the shoes... this woman just doesn't let up.

Oooo, that hourglass gets me every time.

And it's not like her alter-ego, Miss Gulch, was any kinder.

That bitch needed a slap-down.
She wanted to freakin' kill Toto! (I'm thinking perhaps she needed laid or something.) She is the reason Dorothy ran away and ended up not being at home when the damn twister struck!
Young Dot could have been safe and sound in the storm cellar if 'ole Gulch would have just let it lie. She probably deserved Toto chewing on her arm.

Nonetheless, the image of her riding her bike inside the funnel of the tornado and morphing into a witch is burned into my brain forever.

She set the standard for witches no doubt, with the prototype of the green skin and pointy black hat becoming the epitome of witches from then on.

But as you know, all villains must meet a horrific end. And the Wicked Witch's demise was one for the books. I can still hear her: "I'm melting! I'm melting......."

Margaret Hamilton's exceptionally good performance was truly one of the most celebrated in all of film. And the Wicked Witch of the West will always make a list of top villains, cause she was one nasty bitch!

*Buy it here.

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Franco Macabro said...

Margaret Hamilton, she did a great job as the Wicked Witch, I read she got burned while filming one of those poofing out of existense scenes, the make up in her face caught fire and she was almost badly burned!

I love that scene in Freddys Dead where they spoof the Wicked Witch. Its that scene where the protagonist looks out the window and Kruger is flying on a broom just like the wicked witch! Awesome homage right there!

Chet Of The Undead said...

Anybody else look at that first pic and think of a female Nosferatu? ;)

You don't think as much of the classics nowadays, especially if the flick is not thoought of as "scary" but these are the kinds of things that inspire directors, writers and all manner of ankle-bitin' chilens...TWWoW among them? definitely!

deadlydolls said...

Shivers. The hourglass scene marks the very first time I ever cried while watching a movie. Excellent pick!

Also worth checking out is Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked (later made into a much more lighthearted musical). Really neat reimagining of the Witch's story that makes for a thoroughly original read.