Wicked Stepmother

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Wicked Stepmother
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written byLarry Cohen
Produced byRobert Littman
Starring Bette Davis
Barbara Carrera
Cinematography Bryan England
Edited by David Kern
Music by Robert Folk
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • February 3, 1989 (1989-02-03)(U.S.)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2,500,000 (estimated)
Box office$43,749 (US)

Wicked Stepmother is a 1989 American black comedy film written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen and starring Bette Davis and Barbara Carrera.


Wicked Stepmother is best known for being the last film of Bette Davis, who withdrew from the project after filming began, citing major problems with the script, Cohen's direction, and the way she was being photographed. [1] Cohen later claimed she really dropped out due to ill health but avoided publicizing the truth for fear it would affect potential future employment. [2] Davis disputed this claim. [1]


The original plot cast Davis as the title character, a chain-smoking witch named Miranda, who has married Sam while his vegetarian daughter Jenny and son-in-law Steve are on vacation. They return to find their new stepmother has filled their refrigerator with meat and played havoc with their collection of herbs. To explain Davis' absence, the script was rewritten to introduce Miranda's daughter Priscilla, a witch who inhabited Miranda's cat. They both share one existence in human form and while one is human the other must live in the form of a cat the rest of the time. Priscilla takes on a human form while Miranda's spirit inhabits the body of the cat. Priscilla then sets out to defeat Jenny who has figured out that there is something going on. Priscilla uses witchcraft and deception to convince everyone Jenny is wrong. The entire time she refuses to switch bodies with Miranda. Jenny then figures out that they're witches and tries to stop them from ruining her family.

Principal cast

Joan Crawford appears in a photo as Jenny's late estranged mother. The estranged relationship between Jenny and her mother is a reference to the memoir Mommie Dearest , written by Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina. Crawford was also known for her bitter feud with Bette Davis during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? .

Critical reception

TV Guide calls the film "a good-natured, occasionally hilarious spookshow, graced with a few ingenious special effects and sassily acted - with Davis giving a gleefully nasty, if abbreviated, last film performance. [3]

See also

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  1. 1 2 EASTON, NINA J. (1989-01-03). "Bette Davis Smoking Over 'Stepmother'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  2. Cohen, Larry (2012). "I Killed Bette Davis". Filmcomment.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  3. TV Guide review