Hollywood has tackled the subject of the Salem Witch Trials many times in numerous movies, documentaries and t.v. shows.
The first books about the Salem Witch Trials came out in October of 1692 but since multi-media wasn’t invented for another couple of centuries, the first movie about the trials wasn’t produced until 1937. It was a black and white film called Maid of Salem, produced by Paramount, that was inspired by the events of the trials.
Maid of Salem was the first time a Hollywood production company took on such a controversial subject like the witch trials.
Later, television shows began to explore the Salem Witch Trials which caused a surge in public interest in the topic. The tourism industry in Salem suddenly exploded in the 1970s after the popular television series, Bewitched, aired several episodes about the trials and more and more people started seeking movies, books and whatever else they could find on the trials.
Interest in the trials continues to grow to this day and new films and t.v. shows about the trials are announced all the time, although only some of them actually make it to the screen.
In 2015, HBO green lit a pilot for a new drama about the trials called The Devil You Know, starring Eddie Izzard as Thomas Putnam, but the project still hasn’t come to light and it isn’t clear if it ever will.
Also in 2015, STX Entertainment announced it is producing a film about the witch trials titled Salem Village.
The following is a list of movies, documentaries and t.v. shows about the Salem Witch Trials that have made it to the big and small screen as well as details on how or where you can watch them:
♦ Maid of Salem:
A 1937 film starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, directed by Frank Lloyd. The plot is about a young woman named Barbara Clarke who has an affair with an adventurer named Roger Coverman in Salem in 1692. The affair causes a scandal in the Puritanical town and the young woman is soon accused of witchcraft by the town elders. Available on DVD only.
♦ Les Sorcières de Salem:
A 1957 French film starring Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, directed by Raymond Rouleau. The film is an adaptation of the 1953 play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller and is spoken in French. Available on VHS only.
♦ Hocus Pocus
A 1993 film starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, directed by Kenny Ortega. The film is about three witch sisters who are resurrected in Salem 300 years after they were hanged for being witches. The actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays one of the sisters in the film, later discovered while filming an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? that she is a descendant of Esther Elwell, who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, and Google Play.
♦ The Crucible:
A 1996 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder, directed by Nicholas Hynter. The film is an adaptation of the 1953 play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. The play is a fictionalized version of the Salem Witch Trials and is an allegory for the McCarthy hearings held in the 1950s. The plot is about a group of young girls in Salem in 1692 who are caught engaging in forbidden magical activities and begin to lie and accuse others of witchcraft. The film was a box office success and received four Academy Award nominations. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Google Play.
♦ Witch Hunt:
A 2004 History Channel documentary featuring the Salem Witch Trials. The documentary features historians and authors who explore possible explanations for what may have caused the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Available on DVD only.
♦ Salem: Unmasking the Devil:
A 2011 National Geographic Channel documentary about the Salem Witch Trials hosted by Katherine Howe. Howe is a novelist and a descendant of two accused witches, Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe. The documentary features interviews with many historians and authors. Not available on any format.
Six episodes of season seven, which aired in 1970, were filmed on location in Salem with a plot that involved Samantha traveling back in time to 1692. Many historic Salem landmarks are featured in the episodes, including the Salem Witch House and the House of Seven Gables, as well as several landmarks in nearby Gloucester, Mass, such as Hammond Castle and the Fisherman’s Memorial. The Salem episodes are episodes 3-8 and are titled: “Salem Saga,” “Sam’s Hot Bedwarmer,” “Darrin on a Pedestal,” “Paul Revere Rides Again,” Samantha’s Bad Day in Salem,” and “Samantha’s Old Salem Trip.” Available on DVD and Amazon Instant Video only.
♦ In Search Of:
Hosted by Leonard Nimoy, the show investigates various mysteries, phenomena and supernatural events. Episode 109 in Season 5, which aired in 1981, is titled “Salem Witches.” Available on DVD only.
Episode 4 of Season 1, which aired in 1982, is titled “Agents of Satan” and its main characters have to save the mother of Benjamin Franklin, Abiah Folger, from being burned at the stake in the Salem Witch Trials. Available on DVD and Amazon Instant Video only.
♦ Three Sovereigns for Sarah:
A 1985 mini-series starring Vanessa Redgrave, Will Lyman and Kim Hunter that aired on PBS. Directed by Philip Leacock, the mini-series is based on the story of Sarah Cloyce who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Cloyce was also the sister of fellow accused witches Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video and Google Play only.
♦ The Simpsons:
In season 9, a segment of the 1997 Halloween special “Treehouse of Horror VIII” is based on the Salem Witch Trials. The segment, which is titled “Easy Bake Coven,” takes place in the 1600s in a Puritan town where Marge is suddenly accused of being a witch. She flees to her sister’s cave and the three women become the inventors of Halloween. Available on DVD only.
♦ Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
Episode 23 of Season 1, which aired in 1997, is titled “The Crucible” and features Sabrina going on a class field trip to Salem to re-enact the witch trials. The family cat on the show, Salem Saberhagen, was named after the city. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Google Play only.
Episode 36 of this animated children’s television series, which ran from 1998-2000, is titled “When America Was Young” and features a sketch based on the Salem Witch Trials. Not available on any format.
♦ In Search of History:
A History Channel’s television series which aired an episode titled the “Salem Witch Trials” in 1998. Not available on any format.
A WB series, which ran from 1998-2006, features three witches whose ancestor was burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Google Play only.
♦ Secrets of the Dead:
Episode 1 of Season 2, which aired on PBS in 2001, is titled “Witches’ Curse” and discusses several theories about what caused the Salem Witch Trials. Available on VHS only.
♦ Ghost Hunters:
Episode 17 of Season 3, which aired in 2007, is titled “Salem Witch” and features the team investigating the Hawthorne Hotel and Lyceum Restaurant in Salem, which are said to be haunted by Bridget Bishop. Available on DVD only.
♦ Ghost Adventures:
In Episode 15 of Season 7, which aired in 2012, is titled “Killer Nightlife” and features the team investigating the Lyceum restaurant and the Witch House in Salem, the home of Salem Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin. Available on DVD only.
♦ The Vampire Diaries:
A CW series, which first aired in 2009, in which the main character is a descendant of witches who had to flee Salem during the witch trials. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu and Google Play.
A WGN series, which first aired in 2014, that is set during the Salem Witch Trials and is loosely based on the events of the trials. Available on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu and Google Play.
♦ Time Traveling Bong:
Episode one of this Comedy Central mini-series, which aired in April of 2016, is about two cousins who travel back in time to Salem in 1692 where one of them is suddenly accused of witchcraft. Available on Amazon Instant Video only.
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