From Holda in the recent Gretel and Hansel to the witches of the many Snow White iterations, fairy tales know how to deliver a very wicked witch.
Since it is officially February, and therefore the official month to honor women in horror, we thought we would take a moment to pay homage to the many delightfully wicked witches from fairy tale stories.
If you’re like me, you grew up learning about witches while reading children’s stories like Rapunzel, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel. Looking back, it’s a little horrifying to realize the type of malicious acts those villainous women did to steal children or even eat them.
The following list dictates some of the most frightening witches in fairy tale stories, both original and the adaptations.
5. Holda from Gretel & Hansel
Alice Krige does a phenomenal job at portraying the role of the wicked witch, Holda, in this reimagining of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t seen the movie yet.
As if it’s not bad enough that Holda uses her magic to lure children into her home and then devour them, she keeps many of them around and then transforms them into food to feed to Gretel and Hansel. The siblings were feasting on murdered kids. That’s pretty grisly, and the Brothers Grimm would be proud.
4. Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman
While Snow White and the Huntsman received mixed reviews from audiences and critics, one thing everyone could agree on is how incredible and intimidating Charlize Theron was in the role of Queen Ravenna.
The witch from Snow White has always been one of the more sinister beings in the fairy tale world. Even Disney hasn’t been able to make her less frightening. But Theron takes it to a whole new level. Plus, she’s got incredible style.
3. Dame Gothel from Rapunzel
There have been several adaptations of this classic fairy tale, most notably in the Disney film Tangled. But the original Dame Gothel from the Brothers Grimm story was quite evil indeed. She famously shoved Rapunzel’s prince out the window of a high tower where he landed in thorns and went blind.
Not every version of Rapunzel is grim, and some are less frightening if the audience is skewed toward children. Rapunzel is one story we’d love to see someone like Osgood Perkins get his hands on.
2. Ursula from The Little Mermaid
Ursula is a character you might not realize is a witch since she doesn’t look like the typical witch with a black cloak or legs. She is considered a sea witch and it’s because of her that Ariel loses her voice.
She is one of the most famous witches in the Disney canon and a beloved villainess. It’s a shame that Disney doesn’t move forward on one of their many villain television series.
1. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty
The word “witch” doesn’t feel adequate to describe the Queen of the big bad villains in fairy tale stories. Maleficent is more aptly described as a sorceress. There have been multiple versions of Maleficent, in media from the classic animated film to the television series Once Upon a Time to the updated Angelina Jolie movies.
She capable of transforming into a dragon! There are not many people who could defeat Maleficent, and it’s no wonder she has her own film franchise, she’s that iconic.
Who are your favorite fairy tale witches? Which one on this list creeps you out the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.