Sukie Ridgemont’s Zucchini Garden

I don’t think that it is possible to spoil the plot in a movie that is more than thirty years old and if you don’t want this movie ruined, then stop reading now.  Jack Nicholson played Daryl Van Horne, the main antagonist in the 1987 comedy-dark fantasy film The Witches of Eastwick that was based on the 1984 John Updike novel.  This raucous fantasy comedy stars Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher, as three women in a small New England town who are all suffering from broken relationships.  The fiery artist Alexandra (Cher) is a widow, an artist, and a mother to a teenage daughter, the shy and insecure childless classical-music teacher Jane (Sarandon) is a divorcee, and mousy newspaper columnist writer Sukie (Pfeiffer) was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to raise six children alone.

The movie starts out simple enough with Sukie Ridgemont getting her five children ready for school, then she starts picking zucchini in her garden. The entire garden is overrun with this single vegetable, and it looks like a jungle, as all the zucchini are huge.  Suki explains her husband left her because she got pregnant too often.  Jane Smart is assembling the grammar school band for the opening day assembly and Alexandra Spofford is holding a comically large zucchini that came from Suki’s garden and then she is seen carrying two trays filled with the little clay dolls to her kiln which is next to her stove.  These three friends meet up to drink and gossip every Thursday night, and during one of these bacchanals and unbeknownst to the women, they cast a spell, which conjures what they think is their ideal man.  Despite them living in a town with a history of magic, none of the women realize that they have powers of witchcraft, until the unusual stranger named Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) arrives in town and begins courting each of them in turn. 

Before long, the women are spending time at Daryl’s mansion, learning about their powers, and finally indulging the passionate, sexual sides of their personality after years of being unfulfilled and repressed.  However, as Daryl’s behavior starts to get more and more unpredictable, the women begin to worry about his intentions, and whether his arrival in the small coastal Rhode Island town of Eastwick was a good idea.

Initially these women are so enamored with the horny little devil that they don’t even mind sharing him sexually, especially once they realize that they’re able to perform magical acts, like levitating tennis balls and they discover that they might have telepathy.  Daryl’s influence changes the women, creatively, and sexuality, as Alexandra is producing the best art she has in years, Jane begins to play her most unrestrained music, and Sukie becomes confident and exertive.  After the death of Felicia played by Veronica Cartwright, who was trying to warn everyone in town that there is evil going on in Daryl’s mansion, these three women realize that they don’t need the seductive and dangerous Daryl Van Horne in their lives anymore.  They become frightful of their powers and agree never to see or speak to each other and Daryl for a long period of time.

Daryl is upset with the witches for abandoning him, so he uses his own powers against the girls by bringing their worst fears to life.  Alexandra awakens into a bed of snakes and Jane transforms into an old hag, while Sukie is forced to feel excruciating pain.  Realizing the only way to rid Daryl from their lives is by using witchcraft against him, the girls reunite only to seduce and ultimately kill Daryl Van Horne.  The next morning, as Daryl set out to town, the women perform a banishing spell against him. As Sukie rushes to Daryl’s office and takes a grimoire titled book of spells Maleficio, Jane gathers some personal belongings of Daryl (clothing, hair and photos), while Alex creates a voodoo doll out of wax, made to resemble Daryl.  Once the spell begins taking effect, Daryl races home to punish the girls for their betrayal.  Terrified of Daryl’s dominance over them, the witches toss the puppet into a fire, causing Daryl to vanish.  Several months later, they each have a child by Daryl.

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver – #297 hosted by Michael – where we are working with the prompt The Witches Garden.

16 thoughts on “Sukie Ridgemont’s Zucchini Garden

  1. I loved that movie! I always interpreted Daryl as being the devil. Or maybe his agent.

    We have some zucchinis in our back yard, They grew to overwhelm their container. The larger ones were like small watermelons. The movie is true in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This movie was in my private collection for years. I don’t have a copy now, as I never bothered to buy a DVD and everything is fairly accessible on some streaming format or another. I bought the actual book because having seen the movie a dozen times or more, I found ‘holes’ in the script which I presumed could be answered by reading the book. What’s the deal about that house? The birds the newspaper editor’s wife keeps going on about? How did it all really end? Did they banish the devil? and a bunch of others… Oddly when I received the copy of the book, I got such a weird vibe from it that I could not read it. It remains on my shelf, and one day perhaps I’ll steel myself to open it and read it, but that hasn’t happened as yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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