Through Feb. 29
More than any other scary monster, the witch has changed throughout the ages. Once they were perceived as real threats so as to oppress women who strayed from societal norms; at other times they were seen as empowering, inspiring women to fight together against horrible men. Both extremes — and many more besides — can be seen in “Witches’ Brew,” BAM’s sprawling and diverse survey of the best (or at least the most guiltily entertaining) in she-beast cinema.
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Inspired by this weekend’s severely spooky new instant classic “The Witch,” the series reaches all the way back to the nutso 1922 silent documentary “Haxan: Witchcraft Throughout the Ages,” which pairs a history lesson with a nonstop blitz of some of the craziest imagery of the period (or ever).
Touching on every era since, the lineup spans from high art to deep camp. It’s surely the only series to ever pair Carl Theodor Dreyer’s austere, apocalyptic “Day of Wrath” with the apparent modern classic “Hocus Pocus,” to say nothing of the about-to-be-remade 1996 teen romp “The Craft.” There are he-witches (“The Wicker Man”), Anjelica Huston turning into a rat (Nicolas Roeg’s atypically bouncy Road Dahl stab “The Witches”) and the movie where James Stewart romances Kim Novak that’s not “Vertigo” (“Bell, Book and Candle”).
And surely the backlash against the tiny indie that conquered summer-’99 “The Blair Witch Project” is over, yes? Because it’s one of the most nerve-jangling horrors since Dario Argento’s “Suspiria,” which — boo! — is also on tap. Go to beef up your thesis on feminism in cinema, or just go to revel in Barbara Steele’s freaky eyes (that one’s in Mario Bava’s “Black Sunday,” playing tonight).
"Witches Brew" runs through Feb. 29 atBAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. Visit the site for the full lineup and tickets.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge