12 Bewitching Facts About The Craft

YouTube
YouTube

Almost two decades ago, a film about a group of teenage witches hit theaters and completely changed the subgenre. The Craft did away with cheesy pointy hats and broomsticks and taught moviegoers a few things about Wicca and paganism. Just in time for Halloween, here are 12 things you might not know about the cult classic witch flick.

1. SARAH WAS NEARLY BALD WHEN THEY BEGAN FILMING THE MOVIE.

Actress Robin Tunney had shaved her head for her role as Debra in 1995's Empire Records, so when she auditioned for the role of Sarah, she had less than an inch of hair. In the Blu-ray special features, Tunney remembered that director Andy Fleming thought she looked like “a little freak,” which he didn't deny. “We actually got her a wig and did a screen test with her with longer hair,” said Fleming. “It’s amazing what a difference hair can make.”

2. FAIRUZA BALK KNEW A LOT ABOUT THE TOPIC OF WITCHCRAFT.

Fleming was a fan of Fairuza Balk’s acting and says in the Blu-ray special features that he knew she was interested in paganism. The fact that she was knowledgeable about the subject made it even more clear to him that she was right for the role. On the set, Fleming would use her knowledge to improve scenes and make the characters more believable as witches. In the midst of researching the role, Balk even bought an occult shop.

3. NOT SURPRISINGLY, NONE OF THE GIRLS WERE TEENAGERS.

Teenagers are hardly ever played by actual teenagers on the big screen, and the cast of The Craft was no exception. Tunney, Balk, and Campbell were all in their early 20s while True was 29 years old. Skeet Ulrich (Chris) was not far behind at 26.

4. AN ACTUAL WITCH WAS HIRED TO HELP MAKE THE FILM MORE AUTHENTIC.

To make sure that the depiction of Wicca in the film was as close to real life as it could be, the filmmakers hired Pat Devin as a consultant. Devin is a member of one of the largest and oldest Wiccan religious organizations in United States, Covenant of the Goddess, and at the time she was the First Officer of the group’s Southern California Local Council. Devin played a big role in the production process and at times worked directly with the actresses. “A lot of my suggestions were acted upon and virtually all of my suggestions were given careful consideration,” Devin shared, “ even if they didn’t all end up in the final version of the film.”

5. CREEPY THINGS HAPPENED ON THE SET DURING KEY RITUAL SCENES.

Actors and members of the crew claimed that during the ritual scene on the beach, some strange things started to happen. Balk had apparently heard from a witch that the beach “didn’t like pagan ceremonies.” She got sick before filming, and when they came back to the beach to shoot the scene, the lights went out and the altar was washed away. “It was strange because when we would get into the invocation, the surf came up higher, and then it would go down when we stopped,” recalled Fleming. Tunney, on the other hand, believed that there was a natural explanation for everything that happened.

6. THE SNAKES AND BUGS WERE REAL.

There were around 2000 snakes used in the climax of the film at Sarah’s house, and lots of bugs. In the director’s commentary track, Fleming says that there was a fake cockroach on Balk’s face, but that the maggots, rats, and other roaches were all real. The house was a sealed set and the roaches were bred especially for the film so that if they did escape, they could not reproduce.

7. SARAH’S TEARS WERE REAL, TOO.

According to the director, Tunney had the ability to bring forth the waterworks whenever the script called for it, which was often. Because of the shooting schedule, her crying scenes were all over the place, but all she had to do was turn her head away for a few minutes and the tears would flow.

8. THE FRENCH TEACHER WAS HUNGARIAN.

To viewers who don’t parlez français, the classroom scene (which is not hardcoded with English subtitles) works as a generic high school French class, but there are some issues. Native speakers have pointed out an error in the message the teacher writes on the chalkboard. It reads “Si vous aviez faites vos devoirs, vous comprendriez” ("If you would have done your homework, you would understand"), but the irregular verb “faire” should be conjugated as “fait.”

9. THE PENCIL “MAGIC” IN THIS SCENE WAS A PRACTICAL EFFECT.

Fleming revealed in his director's commentary that, because they had such a small budget and practical effects were sometimes cheaper, there was a metal rod through the center of the pencil. A prop guy sat under the desk and turned the rod by hand.

10. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE RATED PG-13.

Fleming says that they only dropped one f-bomb in the script because they wanted the film to be PG-13 and knew that one was all they could get away with. They later found out that the ratings board automatically gave “R” ratings to films about witchcraft.

11. SISKEL AND EBERT GAVE IT TWO THUMBS DOWN.

The Craft claimed the number one spot at the box office during its opening weekend and later became a cult classic, but not everyone loved it. Legendary critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel said that watching the film was “a depressing experience,” and while it had potential, the witchcraft scenes were the only exciting parts.

12. A REMAKE MAY BE ON THE WAY.

A straight-to-DVD sequel was supposed to happen years ago, but that has since been canceled. This year, Sony greenlit a remake of the film and hired Leigh Janiak to write and direct it. Janiak directed an episode of Scream: The TV Series; she also wrote and directed the 2014 horror film, Honeymoon.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About The Blue Lagoon On Its 40th Anniversary

Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields star in The Blue Lagoon (1980).
Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields star in The Blue Lagoon (1980).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Brooke Shields was just 14 years old when she filmed The Blue Lagoon, the infamously sexy and slightly salacious island-set romance that capitalized on burgeoning hormones in a big way. The film was shocking when it debuted on July 5, 1980—but even 40 years later, it can still make jaws drop. Here’s a look at some of its more compelling tidbits, complete with undiscovered iguanas and a nifty trick to cover up nudity.

1. The Blue Lagoon is based on a trilogy of books by Henry De Vere Stacpoole.

Although the film closely follows the events of the first book in Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s series, also called The Blue Lagoon, the film’s sequel (1991’s Return to the Blue Lagoon) breaks with the storyline presented in the 1920s-era trilogy to essentially re-tell the original story (read: more tanned teens falling in love on a tropical island). Stacpoole’s books were far more concerned with the culture of the South Seas population, particularly as it was being further influenced by the arrival of European cultures.

2. The Blue Lagoon was adapted into a film twice before.

In 1923, director W. Bowden crafted a silent version of the story. More than a quarter-century later, British filmmaker Frank Launder made a very well-received version for the big screen in 1949, starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston. The film was immensely popular, becoming the seventh-highest grossing domestic film at the U.K. box office that year.

3. The Blue Lagoon's costume team came up with a clever trick to keep Brooke Shields covered up.

Brooke Shields was just 14 years old when she filmed The Blue Lagoon, which led to some challenges for the production team, especially as Shields’s Emmeline is frequently topless. So the costume designers hatched an ingenious (and, really, just kind of obvious) way to keep her covered up at all times: they glued her long-haired wig to her body.

4. Brooke Shields’s age was an issue for a long time.

Even after The Blue Lagoon was long wrapped, completed, and released into theaters, issues related to Shields’s age at the time of filming still lingered. Years later, Shields testified before a U.S. Congressional inquiry that body doubles—of legal age—were used throughout filming.

5. The Blue Lagoon was nominated for an Oscar.

Cinematographer Néstor Almendros was nominated for his work on The Blue Lagoon. And while he lost out to Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet for Tess, he already had one Oscar at home for his contributions to Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978). The skilled DP, who passed away in 1992, was also nominated for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Sophie’s Choice (1982).

6. A new species of iguana was discovered when it appeared in The Blue Lagoon.

Parts of the film were lensed on a private island that is part of Fiji, one of the habitats of the now-critically endangered Fiji crested iguana. The iguana appeared throughout the film, and when herpetologist John Gibbons caught an early screening of the feature, he realized that the animal that kept popping up on the big screen wasn't a familiar one. So he traveled to Fiji (specifically, to the island of Nanuya Levu), where he discovered the Fiji crested iguana, an entirely new Fijian native.

7. The Blue Lagoon won a Razzie.

Despite its stellar source material and Oscar-nominated camerawork, The Blue Lagoon wasn’t beloved by everyone: The Razzies foisted a Worst Actress award on Shields. The actress won (lost? hard to tell?) over an extremely mixed bag of other nominees that somehow also included Shelley Duvall for The Shining. Come on, Razzies.

8. The Blue Lagoon director Randal Kleiser hatched a plan to get his stars to like each other.

Because the chemistry between the two leads was vital to the success of The Blue Lagoon, director Randal Kleiser (who also directed Grease) came up with the idea to get star Christopher Atkins feeling a little lovestruck with Shields by putting a picture of the young starlet over Atkins’s bed. Staring at Shields every night apparently did rouse some feelings in Atkins; the duo had a brief romance while filming. "Brooke and I had a little bit of a romantic, innocent sort of romance in the very beginning of the film," Atkins told HuffPost. “It was very nice—we were very, very close friends."

9. Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins's affection didn’t last for long.

Despite their early attachment, Shields and Atkins soon began bickering nonstop. “Brooke got tired of me,” Atkins told People in 1980. “She thought I took acting too seriously. I was always trying to get into a mood while she would be skipping off to joke with the crew.” Still, Kleiser even capitalized on that, using the tension to fuel the more frustrated scenes, lensing the tough stuff while his leads were tussling.

10. The Blue Lagoon's film shoot basically took place on a desert island.

Kleiser was desperate to capture authenticity for the film, going so far as to live like his characters while making it. "To shoot this kind of story, I wanted to get as close to nature as possible and have our crew live almost like the characters," Kleiser said. "We found an island in Fiji that had no roads, water, or electricity, but beautiful beaches. We built a village of tents for the crew to live in and had a small ship anchored in the lagoon for our camera equipment and supplies. This filming approach was quite unusual, but it just seemed right for this project."

This story has been updated for 2020.