WITCHING AND BITCHING
(Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi)
Witching and Bitching a rather unappealing title that has been foisted on the film in its English-language release (the original Spanish title translates as the more mundane The Witches of Zugarramurdi) is essentially a film where Alex de la Iglesia conducts a variation on Robert Rodriguezs From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). The first half of the film deals, just like From Dusk, with a group of criminals on the run from the law along with their hostages, before the second half unexpectedly conducts a left field morph into genre material the appearance of vampires in From Dusk, a town of witches here. The difference of course is that here everything is played for comedy.
Witching and Bitching has one of the funniest openings one has seen in a film in some time. This starts in a Madrid square as various characters dressed in costume a Spongebob, a Minnie Mouse, an Invisible Man, Mario Casas as a soldier in green body paint and Hugo Silva as Jesus Christ interact before the latter two come together to conduct a jewellery story robbery. Hugo Silva has been forced to bring along his son (Gabriel Delgado) rather than give up one custody day where the boy has been eagerly dragged into holding a gun and assisting. Their escape is botched when Casass girlfriend drives off in the getaway car and they are forced to hijack a taxi where the high-speed chase with the police is interspersed with young Gabriel Delgado talking with his mother on the phone and Silva is trying to downplay the pursuit and gunfire. Many of these scenes are stolen by young Gabriel Delgado piping up with all manner of inappropriate or inopportune questions or offering helpful statistics quoted from Cosmo about percentages of male ejaculation failure. That and a rather cheeky credits sequence that offers up a potted history of witchcraft that includes pictures of Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel among the witches.
The problem with the film is that after such a strong opening, the show dissipates into lots of running around the village. The scenes with the witches take on a much broader comic farce that lack the sharpness of the opening scenes. This is a film that you feel would have worked a good deal better having been trimmed of some twenty minutes or so. Still there is the appealing absurdity of the three men tied up at a dinner table as the witches nonchalantly walk along the ceiling having telephone conversations or dust the chandelier, or where the men are served up entrees consisting of severed fingers. The film reaches an outrageous climax with the men tied up, where huge knives and forks are brought up past them and then a giant-sized witch turns up to devour them. The underlying theme, which pits men against women amid frequent comic lines about how all women are witches, skirts a line that all but comes out as misogyny.