Twenty-five years ago, The Craft, a destined-to-be-cult movie about a coven of Catholic school teens, was a surprise box office hit. It also became an enduring touchstone for Goth Girls everywhere.
All hail Nancy Downs (the most enjoyably over-the-top, must-be-bound Goth Girl), Lydia Deetz, Wednesday Addams and all the dark cinema sisters who would never, ever do anything as terrible as wear pastel.
Unlike last year’s pallid sequel The Craft: Legacy, the girls in the original film are unpopular outsiders as the film begins: Nancy is poor white trash, Bonnie (Neve Campbell) is self-conscious about her burn scars and Rochelle (Rachel True) is bullied as one of the few Black students at the school. As a trio, their spells aren’t worth much, but when they meet their fourth member, Sarah (Robin Tunney), they find the power to strike back at the mean girls and slut-shaming boys. Nancy realizes her rage can kill, and her abusive stepfather is the first to go. Nancy upgrades her wardrobe to Maximum Goth and offs skeezy ex Billy (Skeet Ulrich, soon to make horror film history in Scream with Campbell). When Sarah wants out, Nancy turns the full power of the coven on her, leading us to a witch battle for the ages. You know it by heart: “I bind you Nancy from doing harm, harm against other people and harm against yourself.” Our last glimpse of Nancy is in a mental institution as she cackles madly, “I can fly. I can fly!” She makes an extremely brief appearance in Legacy, which could have used a lot more crazy Nancy energy.
We were treated to not one but two Addams Family movies with the perfectly cast Ricci as dour Wednesday, who has none of her parents’ gregarious charm, but all of their style. She’s dead serious in everything she does, including trying to kill her new baby brother in the second film. The sequel also gives us the most memorable Wednesday moment (and one of her rare smiles) as she torches the Thanksgiving production after being forced to attend summer camp. Burn it down, Wednesday. Burn it all down.
Lydia Deetz understandably hates her overbearing stepmother Delia (Catherine O’Hara), who’s as relentlessly upbeat as Lydia is sullen. When Lydia discovers there are ghosts in her new house, she’s thrilled, instead of scared…although a tad disappointed they’re not all Night of the Living Dead levels of disgusting under their unconvincing sheet disguises. How is it she can see them when no one else can? “I myself am strange and unusual,” she explains, striking a dramatic pose. What other girl has ghostly surrogate parents? And is that much happier for it?
Angela is a fairly ordinary (if fantastically decked-out) goth who decides to host a Halloween party at a remote, abandoned funeral parlor. The usual assortment of popular kids, jocks and their One Black Friend are invited. All goes fine until Angela comes up with the idea of holding a past life séance in front of a mirror, which unleashes the funeral home demons. At first, no one realizes Angela is possessed, but her ultra-goth dance set to Bauhaus’ “Stigmata Martyr” might be a clue. Or her plunging her hands into the fire and grinning…and then biting off a guy’s tongue. Not to mention a voice that’s more effed up than Regan in The Exorcist. Not even being set on fire can keep her down: She was back for two sequels.
This actress, whose strong resemblance to Winona Ryder can’t be ignored, only made a few movies, including this underrated horror flick. She and her ditzy Mom (Karen Black) move to a new town after the death of her father. Megan takes an immediate fancy to the antique mirror in her bedroom, which is, of course, a portal for summoning demons. Her goth style makes her unpopular at her new school and she soon realizes her vengeance-driven wishes are now coming true, thanks to the mirror. She goes from conjuring up disgusting visions for her mother’s new suitor (a pet mortician played by William Sanderson) to a truly terrible death by steam room for a girl who stands in her way. Lydia Deetz would never.
Far from being the villain in this sequel (of sorts) to Prom Night, Jess is the first victim of a resurrected prom queen from decades past. Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage), who was accidentally torched as she was being declared prom queen back in the ‘50s, is back and on a killing spree. The unfortunate Jess’ death is ruled a suicide since she’d recently admitted to her best friend that she was pregnant. While there is a possession, there’s nothing goth about the blonde, sunny-looking possessee, Vicki (Wendy Lyon), who will do anything and everything to get her crown back.
Who made the better Lisbeth Salander? We love them both. In the original Swedish film, Rapace’s cyberhacker was, perhaps, a bit more punk, while in David Fincher’s remake, Rooney was even more ice cold. Rapace played Lisbeth in all three Swedish films in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. Rooney only got to play the character once, but scored an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. (The series continued after Larsson’s death and The Crown’s Claire Foy took over the role in the critically despised The Girl In the Spider’s Web.) Rooney’s red-carpet style—she was nominated again for Best Supporting Actress in Carol and helped celebrate partner Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar win—suggests that she is, at heart, a Goth Girl in real life as well.
Sharon Knolle is a film noir buff, dog lover and founder of Moviepaws.com. You can follow her on Twitter.