Divorces can be messy: especially when there’s a child involved who’s caught in the middle of a custody battle between his feuding parents. Some movies in the past have shown how some parents go to extreme lengths to spend time with their kids; in 1993 Robin Williams even went as far as becoming a cross dresser and falsifying his identity just so he could enjoy quality time with his children while his wife was banging James Bond. However, I don’t recall any parents ever taking their children to a stick up in a jewellery store then trying to flee the country: not until Witching & Bitching that is, the 2013 horror comedy from critically acclaimed Spanish maestro, Álex de la Iglesia.
Jose (Hugo Silva) is a recently divorced petty criminal with no job and no money; this means that he can’t afford alimony payments, so he disguises himself as a silver painted Jesus and robs a jewellery store of its wedding rings along with a band of misfits dressed up like Spongebob Squarepants, The Invisible Man and a soldier. It also just so happens to be the day he has guardian rights to his son, so he brings him along for the robbery to. Nothing quite like some father-son bonding, is there?
After the robbery, the soldier, Jose and his son hijack a taxi cab and take the driver and passenger hostage to escape Madrid and get to France; while they make their way to the border, they bond over their unanimous hatred of women, unbeknownst that the trouble that waits for them ahead makes being taken to the cleaners for all your worth seem like chump change. In pursuit of them are 2 police detectives and Jose’s psychotic ex-wife, Silvia (Macarena Gomez), who will stop at nothing to get her son back. In order to get to France, they must pass through the village of Zugarramurdi (a place in which there was a real witch trial in the 17th century), only to be captured by a coven of witches who want to eat them for dinner and use Jose’s son for their own personal apocalyptic agenda.
Witching & Bitching is, quite simply, an absolutely bonkers battle of the sexes which pits a group of chauvinists against a group of cannibalistic women; the witches are portrayed as men hating, bloodthirsty fiends and the men are inept idiots, so any notion of it being sexist can’t be targeted at one particular gender as they’re both shown represented by their worst stereotypes. But it leans a little towards women being the stronger and deadlier of the species; which as a man myself I can confirm to be an accurate assessment. Those boobs hold power, and their ability to control, intimidate and manipulate is indubitable when you’re as nuanced as irresolute as the men in this movie.
Cannibalistic witches and silver spray painted Jesus’ aren’t the only deranged delights provided in Witching & Bitching: The insanity ranges from peeping toms living underneath lavatories and 50 foot obese naked Pagan goddesses, which fit in nicely with all the splattery goodness, dismembered fingers and kids in ovens. Man’s tendency to think with his meat stick is also explored; it doesn’t matter if a coven of witches is trying to eat you for dinner and sacrifice your son to their goddess, but when the attractive one pours frogs blood over her barely covered bosoms and gyrates on a broomstick, everything else on earth might as well be non-existent for those few minutes.
Iglesia’s previous feature The Last Circus (2010) portrayed the workings of a madman on screen; in film we call that an artist. A true out-of-the-box thinker, his warped vision is continued in Witching & Bitching, and is a must see for those who appreciate transgressive cinema with sweet comedic sprinkles on top. Best served with an open mind, but an absolute treat if you have the acquired taste. 9/10
Álex de la Iglesia
Jorge Guerricaechevarría, Álex de la Iglesia
Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Pepón Nieto