12 Bewitching Facts About The Craft

Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, and Neve Campbell in The Craft (1996).
Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, and Neve Campbell in The Craft (1996). / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In 1996, a movie 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. Robin Tunney was nearly bald when they began filming The Craft.

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 before The Craft.

Fleming was a fan of Fairuza Balk’s acting and said 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 Craft’s main stars were teenagers.

Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True in The Craft (1996).
Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True in The Craft (1996). / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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 Craft 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. The snakes and bugs in The Craft 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.

6. Sarah’s tears in The Craft 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.

7. Creepy things happened on the set during The Craft’s key ritual scenes.

Robin Tunney, Rachel True, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell in The Craft (1996).
Robin Tunney, Rachel True, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell in The Craft (1996). / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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.

8. The French teacher in The Craft 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” seen in The Craft 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. Siskel and Ebert gave The Craft 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.

11. The Craft 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.

12. A sequel, The Craft: Legacy, is on its way.

Not long after The Craft was released in theaters, talk began circulating about a possible sequel. First there was a planned straight-to-DVD sequel, but that was eventually canceled. In 2015, Sony greenlit a remake of the film and hired Leigh Janiak to write and direct it. Finally, we’re about to get a new take on The Craft and it will be released just ahead of Halloween.

The Craft: Legacy was written and director by actress/filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones and, based on the trailer, has a lot of nods to the original film. Its plot seems to largely follow that of the original film and Balk is set to appear in the film. It will be released for VOD rental on October 28, 2020.

This story has been updated for 2020.