Witchy horror movies are always in style. Stories about strange magic have been with us since the beginning of cinema, and fortunately, they’ll be with us for many years to come. From Häxan and Rosemary’s Baby to Bell, Book, and Candle, and The Love Witch, there’s always something new to discover. Likewise, horror novels that focus on witchcraft are also long-time favorites for many readers.
So for anyone looking for a good witchy movie and a book to match, here are four pairings that will keep you spellbound long into the evening.
If you’ve been following witchy cinema over the last few years, then no doubt you’ve already seen the well-lauded Robert Eggers film, The VVitch. With a decidedly vivid and realistic setting and electrifying performances, in particular from Anya Taylor-Joy and of course Black Phillip, it’s a film that certainly helped launch a new era in horror cinema.
The Year of the Witching
If you’re looking for a horror novel to match the mood of The VVitch, then look no further than The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. Like Thomasin in The VVitch, a young female protagonist discovers strange forces within herself as she copes with living in a deeply puritanical society. Witchcraft as salvation has long been a favorite theme for many horror fans, and these two stories explore that idea with memorable and unique results. Alexis Henderson has been producing some top-notch horror fiction over the last few years, so once you’ve finished The Year of the Witching, be sure to pick up a copy of her latest vampire novel, House of Hunger.
Eye of the Devil
Strange and utterly spellbinding, this criminally underseen folk horror film predates The Wicker Man by several years despite sharing many similarities. Both films follow an outsider who stumbles upon a secret pagan society in a remote village, all with disastrous results. Something that sets Eye of the Devil apart, however, is the luminous Sharon Tate who plays the inscrutable witch Odile. Her performance is a major highlight of her tragically short career, and despite this being among her first roles, she manages to upstage every other actor in the film. No small feat for a cast that includes Donald Pleasence, David Niven, and Deborah Kerr.
Hearts Strange and Dreadful
For anyone seeking out a dread-filled story about an unusual village, then be sure to check out Hearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregor. The locales and time periods are quite different—Eye of the Devil is set in 1960s Europe, the same time and place it was filmed, while Hearts Strange and Dreadful takes place in 1821 New England—yet the overall spooky feel of both stories make these two a perfect pairing. Hearts Strange and Dreadful has been a novel that’s received plenty of praise since its release in 2021, so be sure to set aside a weekend to watch this film and book pairing. They’re both more than worth your time.
When it comes to great witch movies, you can’t go wrong with 1996’s The Craft. It’s a modern classic for a reason. The themes of female friendship—as well as female competition—are as potent now as they were almost thirty years ago when this film was released, and watching this incredible cast makes you wish they made a dozen more movies together. If only we could conjure that version of cinema into reality.
Goddess of Filth
If you’re searching for the same vibe of bewitching female friendships, then Goddess of Filth by V. Castro has got you covered. This horror novella follows four teenage girls who come together for a séance and end up getting more than they bargained for. Soon they discover themselves dealing with an unlikely possession and what it means to find yourself in a world that doesn’t want you to. A rollicking and scary good time to be sure, and one you don’t want to miss.
Based on the Alice Hoffman novel, 1998’s Practical Magic is a perennial favorite for both horror and fantasy movie fans. And for good reason. The performances from Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock are among the best—and most charming—of their careers, and the theme of empowerment runs strong through virtually every scene in the film.
For those of you who’d like a cozy horror novel to match the mood of Practical Magic, then Rachel Harrison’s Cackle is an absolutely perfect fit. Both of these stories focus not only on female kinship but also about learning who you really are and how to stake your claim in the world. Because at the end of the day, witchcraft is by far its most powerful when it gives us a chance to truly be ourselves. After all, there’s nothing more magical than that.