You know, the time is just about right for an insane Spanish-language horror comedy. And what do you know? Here comes Witching & Bitching, which is about as insane as horror comedies come.
There’s gorier (Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn, for example) and smarter (Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn), but what Witching & Bitching lacks in blood, it more than makes up for in camp. Imagine the campiness of, say, Tales From the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood, and the 1960s Batman television series. Now double it. That’s the camp level here.
Witching & Bitching (Spanish title: Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi, which isn’t nearly as charming/stupid as its English counterpart) opens with a woman screeching in a Madrid square about heaven, hell and Satan. Moments later, we’re watching street performers on the square—a silver Jesus, a green soldier, a SpongeBob SquarePants—whip out shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. They hold up a pawnshop that specializes in gold, taking all the weddings bands of divorced men and women (that works into the plot).
Sexual politics and men’s rights pop up as recurring themes in Witching & Bitching. If the movie were remotely successful at selling the idea that divorced men are being cheated out of visitation rights and money, it might be a compelling take on the bogus men’s rights movement that one hears people like Alec Baldwin prattling on about.
But something tells me Witching & Bitching is more interested in being silly. After all, at the 90-minute mark, a giant (literally) nude witch appears with intention of eating a small child.
I digress. Getting back to the pawnshop robbery, Jesus-José (Hugo Silva), soldier Antonio (Mario Casas) and José’s son Sergio (Gabriel Delgado) escape via taxi because their escape car is driven off Antonio’s girlfriend (she’s an attorney and needs to get to a hearing).
So now they’ve got a cab driver and his passenger in on the robbery, too, and before long they’re all pals and complaining about how women have done them wrong. And then they meet the witches.
Normally, I couldn’t care less about giving up spoilers (readers have griped about that, but if you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read the reviews), but even if I laid out the rest of Witching & Bitching’s plot, it wouldn’t make much sense. Suffice it to say that one of the witches thinks she’s fallen in love with José, and that makes for a difficult night for everyone.
The Witching & Bitching cast is what sells this absolute goof-fest. Old pro Terele Pávez shows up merrily as Maritxu, an ancient and probably senile witch who’s interested in cooking little boys for dinner when she should really be preparing them for sacrifice. And Carmen Maura is Maritxu’s put-upon daughter, Graciana, who’s leading the other witches and trying to conjure up a goddess.
Witching & Bitching has been billed just about everywhere as a horror comedy, and it’s worth noting that it’s not particularly funny or bloody. Somehow it’s still fun. Carolina Bang has a lot of fun playing a witch who can’t conceal her feelings. This is good midnight fodder, gang.
WITCHING & BITCHING
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia
With Hugo Silva, Mario Casas and Carolina Bang
Jean Cocteau Cinema
A too-long 113 min.