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Critics' Pick Witching & Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi)

Movie Details

Witching & Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi)
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Date: 2014-06-13 Limited
  • Running Time: 110 min.
  • Director: Alex de la Iglesia
  • Cast: Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Carolina Bang, Carmen Maura, Gabriel Delgado
  • Producers: Enrique Cerezo, Carlos Bernases
  • Writers: Alex de la Iglesia, Jorge Guerricaechevarría
  • Distributor: IFC Films
  • Official Site: Witching & Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi) Official Site

A major achievement in sunny wretchedness, Álex de la Iglesia's splatter-comedy Witching & Bitching projectile pukes its outrages at you with a gusto recalling the early days of those (sadly) reformed upchuckers Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. De la Iglesia doesn't share those directors' interest in making clear just why characters do the dumb things they're doing, but he's a whiz at house-of-horrors hilarity.

What story there is follows inept crooks after a clever/dumb pawnshop heist in Madrid: A few misogynistic louts try to escape to France with a sack of hocked wedding rings -- and Sergio (Gabriel Delgado) the eight-year-old that lead crook Jose (Hugo Silva) brought along, as it was his weekend with the boy. As they go, the fellows bitch about the awfulness of women while being so plainly, hilariously awful themselves you'd be churlish to take offense. (Yet.)

But as the title suggests, the women of Witching & Bitching also turn out to be a special breed of awful, especially when the men wind up in a town ruled by a gloriously gruesome coven: The witches feast on fingers, skitter along the ceilings, and their unholy dinner party builds into a surprisingly grand subterranean revel, double-stuffed with gross-out gags and expertly staged and shot.

At first, the witching seems a lampooning of the hero's pickle-brained sexism. But, hey, see that witch-to-be in the fetching black bra squeezing toad-guts onto the broomstick she's humping? That's Eva (Carolina Bang), not yet a cannibalistic monster; her descent into sudden, tempestuous, choose-me--or-your-friends love with Jose sours the fun. She's not a witch, just some idiot dudes' idea of a bitch.

Alan Scherstuhl

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