Watching the Witches

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As we get closer to Halloween, Witch-themed media becomes a more and more popular subject for television programmers. We already know about the upcoming Salem-themed episode of “Opportunity Knocks” featuring Laurie “Official Witch of Salem” Cabot, but now cable television will be getting into the act. The Biography channel will be airing a special on Witches (ancient and modern) on October 30th (part of their October “Boo-ography” promotion).


Witness the disembodied floating head of Silver! Spooky!

According to Llewellyn Worldwide publicist Jennifer Spees, the show will be “an exploration of witchcraft from medieval times through the present”, and feature interviews with Christopher Penczak, Stefani “Spiral” Barner, and Silver Ravenwolf. It isn’t known at this point who else the Biography team interviewed, but it has been confirmed that they visited Salem (naturally), so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Laurie Cabot or Christian Day pop up as well. I’ll refrain from speculating on what the sensationalism/accuracy ratio will be.

For those wanting to see some real live Witches on the big screen, you might want to head over to the 15th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, and check out the Midwest premiere of the documentary “Hoopeston” (screening, coincidentally, on October 30th). The film, directed by Thomas Bender, looks at the struggling town of Hoopeston, Illinois, and the conflicts that emerged when Witch School (and the Correllian Tradition that runs it) moved in (check out my original post on this documentary).

Hoopeston – Trailer from Synydyne on Vimeo.

“Witches will come out a day early this year. “Hoopeston,” a feature-length documentary about an Illinois town and its Witch School, will play in the Chicago Underground Film Festival on October 30, the night before Halloween. Produced by SYNYDYNE, “Hoopeston” tells the story of the former Sweet Corn Capital of the World through the lives of its residents: a laborer struggles to find work, a young entrepreneur buys the only motel in town, the police chief battles a drug epidemic, and the Correllian Chancellor lays plans for a vast Crystal Web. The film balances the stark beauty of rural Illinois with candid and moving interviews from a variety of subjects. It features an original score by composer Todd Mazierski.”

After the Midwest premiere, Synydyne will start selling DVDs of the film. They have a mailing list you can sign up for to be notified when copies are available. As for the Witch School folks, they’ll be in Salem teaching free classes through November 1st.

So whether you want to attend a movie out (in the greater Chicagoland area), or stay inside and curl up on your couch (if you have cable television), you’ll be able to gage how far forward (or back) depictions of modern Pagans have come since the days of fog-machines, strobe lighting, and the morning talk-show circuit. Happy viewing!