While Columbia Pictures was surprised by the commercial success of this supernatural high school horror movie, none of the teens who saw it and immediately went home to play “light as a feather, stiff as a board” were. The movie was an instant cult classic and has inspired a generation of girls to explore Wicca (with the good intentions Sarah Bailey advises, of course).
In 2020 a sequel, The Craft: Legacy, was released and Fairuza Balk even made a cameo. While it got decent reviews, the sequel failed to capture the (ahem) magic of the original. Here are some behind the scenes facts and trivia that will help explain what was so special about The Craft.
1. Over 85 actors were considered for the leads including Angelina Jolie and Alicia Silverstone.
2. None of the women cast were high school age. In fact, Rachel True who played Rochelle was 30. She had to fire a manager who wouldn’t pursue the role for her in favor of a new manager who believed in her, and Rachel got the role.
3. The script was actually reworked in order to cast Rachel True, a black woman, and the subplot of her racist bully, played by Christine Taylor, was added unbeknownst to Rachel. Originally Rochelle’s character arc revolved around an eating disorder. Ironically, Rachel True ended up experiencing racism in real life as a result of the movie when the three white leads were given opportunities not extended to her.
4. The Craft was Neve Campbell’s first film to get a wide release.
5. Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich both followed up The Craft with another horror movie, Scream. Drew Barrymore was initially signed on to play Sidney Prescott but a conflict with another project forced her to change roles to Casey Becker. Neve was initially hesitant to follow up The Craft with another horror film, but Scream would be her first leading role.
6. Fairuza Balk is Wiccan in real life and eventually purchased the pagan store she frequented to do research for her role as Nancy. Panpipes Magickal Marketplace claims to be the oldest occult store in the country and Unsolved Mysteries, Dream On, and Witchboard II have all used Panpipes as a filming location. Balk is no longer the owner, but the store is still open today.
7. The girls used actual Wiccan rituals. The Craft‘s technical advisor was Pat Devin, a Dianic Elder Priestess. She consulted on the elements used in the movie and modeled them after actual rites.
8. During the invocation of the spirit scene on the beach a bunch of spooky shit went down. A colony of bats appeared and lingered on set and waves rose up and extinguished the candles used for the scene. As director Andrew Fleming described, “Every time the girls started the ceremony, and only when they would start the ceremony, the waves would start coming up tremendously fast, pounding heavily. Then, right when Nancy says her line, “Manon, fill me,” right at that exact moment, we lost power. It was a very strange thing.'”
9. Light as a feather, stiff as a board doesn’t really require magic. It’s perfectly reasonable that four people could lift a fifth a few inches off the ground with one finger, no witchcraft needed.
10. The god the girls invoke, Manon, is made up. Pat Devin asked not to use a real deity because she “didn’t want hordes of teenagers running down to the beach or out to the woods invoking anybody real.”
11. Manon later appeared in real books, however. Though she did extensive research before the movie to ensure there was not already a deity named “Manon” in existence, the technical advisor has seen this name appear on lists since the movie came out, because people assumed it was real.
12. However the name Manon does resemble the name of an actual Gaelic god, Mananan. Mananan is god of the sea, invoking his spirit would have made actual sense in the movie as afterward Nancy has the power to walk on water and is offered the gift of sea creatures.
13. Another actual spiritual event happened during filming. Wiccan technical Advisor, Pat Devin, recalls: “On the last day of shooting at the beach, one of the actresses asked me to Dedicate her to the Path of the Goddess. We walked up the beach in the dark, away from the lights, to a cove where I Dedicated her and presented her to all four quarters. For her name, she took a name that I’d told her I would have named my daughter, had I ever had one.”
14. They brought in over 3,000 bugs, rats and snakes to film the scene where Sarah is tormented by the girls in her home including a boa constrictor that was more than ten feet long.
15. Fairuza Balk (Nancy) didn’t actually have to get covered in bugs for filming. They used special effects to make it look like they were crawling on her, but they actually shot the bugs crawling over a dummy.
16. The glamour scene is even more interesting than you think. Robin Tunney, who played Sarah, had just finished her role as Deb in Empire Records (1995). Since she shaved her head in that film, her hair during the entire filming of The Craft is a wig.
17. A similarity between Robin’s The Craft and Empire Records characters is that they both have self-harm scars on their arms, though they are different for each movie.
18. Katy Perry’s song Dark Horse is inspired by the film.
19. The Smith’s song “How Soon Is Now?” as covered by Love Spit Love plays in The Craft. It was then used as the theme song for Charmed.
20. Holly Marie Combs, who starred as Piper Halliwell in Charmed was considered for the role of Bonnie, which eventually went to Neve Campbell.
21. There is a technical error in the scene where they are in French class. The message on the board is supposed to say “If you would have done your homework you’d understand” but says “Si vous aviez faites vos devoirs, vous comprendriez” instead of the correct form, “Si vous aviez FAIT vos devoirs, vous comprendriez.”
22. There were short-lived plans for a straight-to-DVD sequel focusing on Nancy’s character. Despite opening at #1, massive cult success, and the prayers of goth girls everywhere it never happened.
23. Despite following guidelines for PG-13 movies, the MPAA gave the movie an R rating. The director, Andrew Fleming, suspects it was just the fact that teen girls are experimenting with witchcraft.
24. There’s a deleted scene where Sarah visits Nancy at the mental hospital and tries to help her get better.
25. The Craft was made into a drag stage show starring Peaches Christ. The tagline was, “Now is the time. This is the hour. Drag is our magic. Drag is our power!”