A gang of escaping jewelry thieves get trapped by a coven of witches.
Imagine if you will, a film that opens with a jewelry heist and the robbers are: Jesus Christ, A 6 ft tall green toy soldier, The Invisible Man, Minnie Mouse & Spongebob Squarepants. Then imagine that Jesus brings along his 10 yr old son (Who’s pretty handy with a pistol) along with him to the heist. Imagine a bit further and have the heist go badly with only Jesus, his son & the big green soldier escaping in a hijacked cab. Then have yourself a couple of shots of Bacardi 151 and imagine that the trio end up in a town populated by witches, and they have plans to sacrifice the little boy to some unnamed deity in order to conquer the world. And imagine that all of them, from the robbers to the witches, are absolutely batshit crazy.
Imagine no more. Allow me to welcome to director Alex De La Iglesias’ latest film: Witching & Bitching.
Jose AKA Jesus (Hugo Silva) is just about done with his shrewish, haranguing wife, Silvia (Macarena Gomez). So his bright idea is to gather a group together and rob a jewelry store. His best friend, Antonio AKA Green Toy Soldier (Mario Casas) is his right hand man and accompanies him into the store to perpetrate the robbery. Sadly, Jose has to bring his 10 yr old son, Sergio (Gabriel Delgado) along with him since he has him on Tuesdays/Thursdays and he’s not about to miss any time with him, no matter what the circumstances. The other participants (Invisible Man, Minnie Mouse & Spongebob Squarepants) all acted as lookouts and are either apprehended or shot by police (Spongebob really gets the short end of the stick here) as Jose, Sergio & Antonio make a hasty escape in a hijacked taxi driven by Calvo (Pepon Nieto), who ends up getting dragged into the mess that his passengers have created.
As they escape the police and argue as to where they want to be taken (Disneyland France seems to be the consensus), they find themselves entering a small, nondescript town called Zugarramurdi and it’s here where they end up battling not only for their lives, but for the fate of the earth. Because the town of Zugarramurdi is populated entirely by witches and lead witch, Graciana (Carmen Maura), along with her assistants Maritxu (Terele Pavez) & Eva (Caroline Bang), look at the unexpected arrival of the guys as a sign – a sign that they’ve been waiting for a long time. And now that everything is in place, they plan on sacrificing Sergio to something horribly profane with really big boobs called “The Great Mother Beast“. Did I mention that Silvia has tracked her wayward husband down and she’s gonna get her son back, apocalypse minded witches & their mother beast be damned?
What happens from then on is a deliriously manic battle of the sexes that just happens to feature hundreds of angry, man hating witches hunting down a couple of men who find themselves in the wrong place at the absolutely worst time possible. That’s right, I said “Battle Of The Sexes”, because what De La Iglesias has done here is create a film illustrating the (Supposed) differences between men & women. It’s a visual take of sorts on author John Grey’s “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus“. Except the men are hapless thieves – and the women are ruthless witches bent on world domination. To recount all of the wackiness that you’re gonna witness here in Witching & Bitching would be folly. Suffice it to say that the title is extremely apt and that De La Iglesias had a lot of different films that he wanted to pay homage to in mind when he began production on this film because there are nods to films as varied as: The Wild Bunch (1969), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), The Wizard Of Gore (1970), King Kong (Not the original 1933 or 2005 versions. The 1976 version), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), both The Addams Family & The Munsters TV series (1964-66), The Sugarland Express (1974), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) & Dead Alive (1992) among others. In other words, it’s a really, really wacky movie.
But it’s a terrifically wacky movie! De La Iglesias is a director known to take chances (Try watching El Dia De La Bestia (1995) & see if you don’t agree) and is extremely popular all over the world, save for the U.S.A. where he has a fervent, but small, following. Witching & Bitching (Take that title literally and you’l get an idea of what you’re in for here), is his attempt to reach a wider audience here in the states and he goes all out to entertain us. Witching & Bitching is funny, creepy, thought provoking & gross with some wonderfully self aware performances from its entire cast. Everyone is in on the joke and I can imagine how hard it must’ve been to keep a straight face on during production. But his script also highlights some of the fundamental differences between the sexes and finds new ways to mine both humor & scares from the topic. He manages to entertain his audience with offbeat humor while grossing it out with some gruesome highlights.
But as much as I enjoyed this film, it’s not without its faults. In a frenzied attempt to cram in so many homages from so many films (& I’m positive I missed a few of them) in here, he loses sight of his script for a while. The middle third of the film begins to plod after its wham bam opening third and it nearly runs itself off the rails. As much action as there is here, Witching & Bitching is also dialog heavy and while that’s not a bad thing, the plot does thicken far too quickly and I found myself wondering if I missed something (A bit of dialog perhaps), explaining how the characters had gotten themselves to a certain points in the film a few different times. Luckily, the script sorts itself out in time to answer my questions but I have to wonder why I felt like I missed something in the first place.
Overall, Witching & Bitching will most definitely entertain you. It’s so batshit crazy and fast moving that it will leave you nearly breathless trying to keep up with it. Some of you might look at this as a bad thing, after all we go to the movies to be entertained – not to be left out of breath. But I had so much fun watching it that being left a bit breathless & confused for a few minutes felt pretty damned good for a change.
Witching & Bitching – 4 out of 5 shrouds.
Witching and Bitching is now available on DVD per IFC Midnight
I enjoyed this one. It starts off with a bang and falters a little after the first act but overall it’s an entertaining if sometimes scattered flick.