Scream Factory Conjures Up a Collector’s Edition of THE CRAFT

Light as a feather, stiff as a board, loaded with extra features

For over twenty years The Craft has been a horror landmark for all things Wiccan. A ‘90s cult favorite, it’s led by a catty and enchanting quartet, dealing with the fallout of black magic against the backdrop of high school. This blend of teen drama with a dark streak has helped pave the way (along with Buffy The Vampire Slayer) for shows such as Practical Magic, Charmed, American Horror Story: Coven, Salem, and even recently with a re-imagining of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Witchcraft has never been hotter (well except for those times at the stake in Salem), so it’s only right that Scream Factory brings a new collector’s edition to celebrate a film that still stands out amongst similar fare.


Sarah has always been different. So as the newcomer at St. Benedict’s Academy, she immediately falls in with high school outsiders. But there’s something different about her new friends, and it’s not just that they won’t settle for being a group of powerless misfits. They have discovered The Craft … and they are going to use it.

High school means peer pressure, judgment, and anxiety. It’s a breeding ground for neuroses, fueled by hormones as teens struggle to get a hold of their feelings and lives and their minds and bodies change. It’s also a perfect setting for drama, comedy, and, with all its unsettling elements, a metaphorical playground for horror. The Craft centers on a bunch of outcasts nicknamed the “Bitches Of Eastwick.” Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True) are all aspiring Wiccans who find that Sarah (Robin Tunney), a new girl at their school, is a natural born witch. Her powers don’t just enhance their own, but open up new abilities to all of them. These downtrodden misfits become newly empowered and start to assert themselves within the hierarchy of their school, and beyond. Upending the natural order of things, the backlash comes in emotional and mystic forms and spells danger for the group as well as those around them.

Heathers given a dose of black magic is the most common and apt descriptor. It certainly delivers that high school feel, depicting the various cliques along with love, lust, and hate, petty judgments and power plays, backstabbing and bitching, it’s all here. These are relatable girls, outsiders, each suffering from their own personal problems or social stigma — physical defects, feeling an outsider, being a subject of racist bullying or other abuse, even labelled as trailer trash. Common, crude, and hateful labels and views seem to ferment within a school environment. It’s unsurprising they seek to use these powers to lift themselves up, and dole out a little retribution too. It’s this escalation of power, the fear of what they are becoming, and jealousy (about a boy, this is a teen tale after all) that start to drive a wedge between the coven and turn them against each other.

The endurance of witches is a rather fascinating phenomena, stemming from men’s fears and their inability to understand or control women. A label thrown at women hundreds of years ago is still deployed today. Speak to any female Wiccan and they will usually talk about their calling in terms of bonds of sisterhood, or empowerment, and the film does champion these ideals. The strength these girls draw from each other in the face of objectification, racism, body and slut-shaming, and gas-lighting is a power that doesn’t come from magic. The spells they cast offer an outlet and a quick fix, upending the natural order of things. Fueled by darker impulses, they get what they ask for, as well as what they deserve. While the finale muddies things a little, the moral lessons, and the Wiccan faith, pervade the film in a rather interesting way, complimenting the teen drama that unfolds.

While the film itself remains both enjoyable and an understandable pop culture landmark, there are elements that wilt under scrutiny. The CGI hasn’t aged well, an often championed soundtrack has some dire covers included, and some of the ideas are deployed in a heavy handed or hurried manner, Bonnie veering from insecure to full on sex kitten for example. Rewatching it feels like there is a more compelling, nuanced story to tell, one surely to come from a female writer and director rather than an all male team. At the time of writing this review it was announced a reboot was in the works from Blumhouse, who have brought on Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid, Lola Versus) to write and direct. I have hopes for an interesting reinterpretation, but whether it will have the same cultural impact, only Manon knows.

The Package

Scream Factory doesn’t champion a new restoration of the film on their packaging, and sadly it certainly doesn’t look like one either. It’s a solid enough presentation, clean and well defined, but some of the detail and colors are flat and muted respectively. Where the release impresses is with the addition of several newly commissioned extra features:

  • NEW Directing The Craft — An Interview With Co-writer And Director Andrew Fleming: Quite interesting hearing the director’s reluctance to helm the project and how putting his own stamp on the screenplay, and respect for Wiccan customs, amongst other things, turned him around. Also covers details on studio interference/concerns, casting, production, and the legacy of the film.
  • NEW Producing The Craft — An Interview With Producer Douglas Wick: Starts with a look at the embryonic stage, where the concept was fleshed out into a full script, and how Fleming coming on board developed it further still. The producer, as so many of those who contribute, finds plenty of time to talk about the impact and contributions of Fairuza Balk, as well as his contentment at the film’s longevity.
  • NEW Writing The Craft — An Interview With Co-writer Peter Filardi: The writer shares his motivations for scripting the film, notably to show respect and insight into the Wiccan belief systems. Candid thoughts on how his work was handled by the studio and others, he also reflects on how time and his becoming a parent has affected his opinions on the film.
  • NEW Effecting The Craft — An Interview With Makeup Effects Supervisor Tony Gardner: The film has some nicely done practical effects, and some CGI that frankly has not aged that well. The ‘90s was a testing ground for much of this work and Gardner being old school offers up his own position with the encroachment of this new technology. He also talks about how practical work of course, perhaps the most important being the wig he crafted for Tunney coming in hot (and bald) from her work on Empire Records.
  • Audio Commentary With Director Andrew Fleming
  • Vintage Featurette — Conjuring The Craft: Just under 25 minutes, it’s largely spliced together from cast and crew interviews. Touches on the whole gamut of concept, filming, release, and reception, with attention given to the Wiccan aspects to ensure respect for those who practice it.
  • Vintage Featurette — The Making Of The Craft: Bog standard clips and interviews featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary: Deleted scenes that are (praise Manon) actually given context for their excision with a director’s commentary. They mostly focus on Sarah, and expand a few character moments and add some further occult happenings.
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

This collector’s edition from Scream Factory shows The Craft is still able to cast a spell. While it stumbles a little toward its climax, the film remains a darkly entertaining, often kitschy, and frequently empowering exploration of adolescence, and the travails of high school…and black magic. While the package doesn’t bring a refreshed transfer of the film, it does bring a wealth of new content that adds to the deserved cult status the film enjoys.

The Craft Collector’s Edition is available via Shout! Factory from March 12th, 2019.

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