Thursday, September 26, 2013


Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [2013] got my attention because its
trailer made the movie look fun.  Making decisions based on movie
trailers doesn’t always pay off, but this time it did.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as the kids from the classic
children’s spooky tale, now grown up and hunting witches wherever
they find them.  The job seems to pay well enough to keep them in
their not-actually-archaic-but-very-cool weapons.  Famke Janssen is
the leader of the evil witches they seek to destroy.  As the movie
progresses, the siblings pick up a few other allies, including the
deputy of a mayor who has hired them, a courageous teenager, a good
witch and one other who is best left for viewers to discover when
they watch the movie.  They also pick up an enemy in the sheriff of
the town, who is pissed at them for not letting him kill the good
witch. Not every small town cop is Andy Taylor.

Renner made this movie before The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy.
He’s been in at least one movie on the Syfy Channel as well.  Big
budget or not-so-big budget, he’s become one of my favorite action-
movie heroes.  Who’s up for a Hawkeye movie?

Atherton and good witch Pihla Viitala are excellent in their roles.
In fact, there are no bad performances in this movie.  I even got
a kick out of the cackling witches.  They were fun in, of course,
a totally evil way.

The movie maintains a good pace, but breaks from the action stuff
to give us nice character development and some surprises about the
witch hunters.  The special witch-killing weapons are delightful.
The special effects are well done.  I recommend this movie without
hesitation.  I’ll probably end up buying it so I can easily share
it with friends.


Several other Hansel and Gretel films were released around the same
time as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.  My occasionally obsessive
nature took hold of my brain and I requested all three of them from
my local library via the 100-plus-strong Clevenet system.  Clearly,
no one else was requesting these movies.  All three of them showed
up at my local library on the same day.  I watched them all within
a week.  It was a bumpy ride.

Witchslayer Gretl (2012) was a Syfy Channel original movie starring
Shannen Doherty as the title character.  Except she spends most of
the movie possessed by the evil witch who captured her when she and
her brother were children.  Thinking she was dead, Hansel grew up
to be a witch-hunter and witch-killer.  His ally in this endeavor
is a memory-challenged former witch played by Sarain Boylan.  She
gave the best performance of any of the actors, but that’s just not
saying much when it comes to this movie.

You have the big bad witch sending her witches and creatures out to
kidnap young women in the hope one of them will be strong enough to
host her nasty essence.  You have a laughably incompetent warlock.
You have one of those young woman who Hansel and his partner saved
from the bad witches.  You have a computer-animated gargoyle that
pops up every now and then to distract the viewers from how awful
this movie is.  Alas, the gargoyle is not successful in that ploy.
You have the screen go black every twelve minutes or so, which is
where the Syfy Channel put the commercials.  They should have left
the commercials in.  They were probably more entertaining than the
movie.  In short...

Terrible movie. I mourn the loss of the ninety minutes I spent with
this film. Damn my obsessive compulsions!


The award for the worst of the Hansel and Gretel movies I watched
goes to Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft (2013). The film is
set in modern times with the adopted teenage siblings being sent to
a private school after surly Hansel gets expelled.  I’m calling on
IMDB to help me get through this review with this summary:

Twins discover a coven of witches. The brother is recruited to join
while the sister uncovers their heritage as witch slayers. When the
brother is supposed to sacrifice his sister they instead team up to
destroy the Witch of the Woods.

The movie has only two name actors: Eric Roberts and Vanessa Angel.
Roberts lurches through his role as school principal and trainer of
witch-slaying warriors as if he were drunk.  Angel, who I adored in
the TV version of Weird Science, is so terrible that she’s ruined
all the fantasies I used to have about her.

The private school is supposed to be small, probably to explain why
it looks like a motel.  Yet, when we see a long shot of the place,
it’s a much bigger school.  And we see that long shot over and over
again.  I could recognize one colorful backpack after the second
use of this stock footage and lost count of how many times it was
used after the sixth time.

The special effects are laughable. What’s the use of hunting down
witches if you can’t kill them with some zazz?
If you played this movie as a double feature with Witchslayer Gretl
and then used it as an advanced interrogation technique, terrorists
would be singing like canaries.


The Asylum went for horror with its take on Hansel & Gretel (2013).
IMDB called it a modern-day retelling of the tale and, except for
the title heroes being teens, it follows the original story closely
with some contemporary twists.

The widower father of Hansel and Gretel has married a younger woman
and plans to sell their family home so he can travel the world with
her.  It’s not exactly leaving the kids lost in the woods, but it
serves to get them into the scary woods where the wicked witch and
her freakish sons live.

Dee Wallace plays said wicked witch.  She runs a bake shop in the
small town and serves up a mean meat pie.  The meat in those pies
comes from the teenagers she captures and fattens up in a secluded
cabin in the woods.  Wallace chews the bucolic scenery like it was
one of her tasty pastries, but it works for her here.

Wallace sees Gretel as a surrogate daughter and wants to train her
in the ways of cannibal cuisine.  As for Hansel, he’s on the menu.
Gretel is a vegan.  Conflicts arise.

This is a solid horror B-movie.  It’s got its fair share of gore,
but nothing too outrageous.  The acting is decent or better.  The
special effects are convincing.  The story moves at a good pace and
delivers many scary and satisfying moments.  I wouldn’t watch this
one a second time, but it was fun the first time around.

There’s one more Hansel and Gretel movie out there: Hansel & Gretel
Get Baked
.  This film’s modern-day wicked witch lures teenagers to
her house by offering them primo weed.  The Clevenet system doesn’t
have it, but I’ve got a used copy on order.  Look for my review of
it in the near future. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I liked HG:WH and have seen it several times. The cast is really good, and they found the right balance between respecting the material and having fun with the genre. I thought using diabetes as Hansel's kryptonite was an odd choice, but it still fit in the story. I would put this in the total escapist category with Jackman's Van Helsing.

  2. I enjoyed the Renner film. It delivered what it promised in the trailers.
    I didn't realize there were so many "mockbusters" for Hansel & Gretel. Seems like more than usual, to trade on the advertising for a movie that didn't strike me as being that big a release in the first place.

    I'll definitely steer clear of Warriors of Witchcraft. I was a fan of the Weird Science series, and had the pleasure of seeing Vanessa Angel in person when I was an extra on an episode of "Entourage" a few years ago. I'd just as soon not have my memories tarnished.