Bonnie, and cousin Sylvia, two very young children, are left at home in Willoughby Hall while their parents travel overseas. Only the servants and the prowling wolves are their companions. News arrives that Lord and Lady Willoughby are missing and an evil looking governess suddenly arrives at the Hall....the children are at her mercy......
-Alright, we'll be honest - the film isn't perfect. BUT it does have more redeeming features than a lot of modern crap that's hyped and huge (naming no names Mission Impossible 2 and 3!). Amongst these redeeming features is the stunning scenery. The luscious snow that we know was created by good ol' mother nature and not CGI - *cough*LotR**cough*. The beautiful house in which the girls live give the film a definite sense of period realism and creates the claustrophobia that makes the film scarier. Then there's the quite frankly marvellous Stephanie Beaucham. Whether her character is gorgeous or grotesque Beaucham always manages to camp it up wonderfully and seems to be having a truly good time chewing up all of the scenery. Her subtle nuances and facial ticks create so much humour for an older audience and she has all of the best lines. We also need to bare in mind that this film was made some seventeen years ago, meaning that yes, it probably has dated a little, but that doesn't mean that it can't be entertainment along the lines of 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' for a new generation. Deaths aside.
-I remember being enthralled by both the book and this film when I was little. Stephanie Beacham performs brilliantly as the evil Miss Slighcarp. She is well supported by Mel Smith, Jane Horrocks and Richard O'Brien (really likable as James and totally unrecognisable here from his "Rocky Horror" persona). The plot moves quickly and despite not faithfully mirroring the story of Joan Aiken's novel manages to portray all the characters just as they were depicted in the text. I continue to enjoy watching this as an adult - some fans of the book may be unhappy with some of the added material but as a fan of Joan Aiken myself, I think this adaptation and the actors' performances do great justice to her writing.
Directed by: Stuart Orme
Stephanie Beacham .... Letitia Slighcarp
Mel Smith .... Mr. Grimshaw
Emily Hudson .... Bonnie
Aleks Darowska .... Sylvia
Geraldine James .... Gertrude Brisket
Richard O'Brien (I) .... James
Jane Horrocks .... Pattern
Lynton Dearden .... Simon
Jonathan Coy .... Lord Willoughby
Eleanor David .... Lady Willoughby
Gillian Hanna .... Mrs. Shubunkin
Dilys Hamlett .... Aunt Jane
Abbie Dabner .... Rupert
Release Date:15 December 1989 (UK)
Also Known As:La strega di Willoughby Chase
Filming Locations:Czech Republic
Runtime: 92 min