Well, the anniversary special (25 years to be exact) that is. “It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!” an iconic line taken from the Halloween cult-classic Hocus Pocus. Directed by Kenny Ortega, the 90s Disney movie, revolves around three witches known as the Sanderson sisters: Winifred (played by Bette Midler) Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy). On Halloween night the witches are summoned back to Salem, Massachusetts when a skeptical boy lights a black flamed candle, the sure way to bring them back from the dead. After returning, the witches led by ring leader Winnie, make a potion with the goal of stealing the life from the children of Salem in order to regain their youth.
The tale begins in the 1600s from the perspective of a witch soaring on her broom as viewers are looking below on a colonial city during the opening credits. Thackery Binx a teenage boy in the town, is in search of his younger sister Emily who appears to be missing. One of the Sanderson sisters Sarah, leads Emily through the wilderness while enchanting her with a hypnotic song. Thackery locates the witches’ hideout buried deep in the woods and tries to save his sister but to no avail. As a result, the trio eerily chants a spell to turn Binx into a classic Halloween novelty, a black cat to live for all eternity as his punishment.
The movie switches to modern time, introducing Max Dennison a teenage boy in modern Salem along with his little sister Dani who recently moved from Los Angeles. Max is quite a skeptic of Salem’s traditional Halloween customs and superstitions.
On Halloween night after reluctantly agreeing to take Dani trick or treating, the two make their way up to the entrance of a upscale house to grab some candy where coincidentally, Alison, Max’s crush from school lives.
The bunch decide to partake in some Halloween fun and set out to explore the ancient Sanderson house which resides as a museum. Despite the group’s warnings, Max lights the black flame candle and summons the witches back from the dead. Before fleeing the cryptic site, Max grabs Winifred’s enchanted spell book and Binx the cat trails behind.
After picking Binx up from the Sanderson house, he becomes the group’s guide, advising in how to succeed in preventing the witches from ever coming back again. The plot then forms on the witches’ quest to retrieve Winifred’s precious spell book and ultimately steal the lives from all the children in Salem. Max, Dani, and Alison are the only ones who know the Sanderson sisters are back from the dead and take it upon themselves to prevent the witches from concocting their soul stealing potion.
Set up in the ancient graveyard of Salem, the climax of the film transpires. Winifred, Sarah, and Mary hover above the bunch trying to get her spell book back before the sun rises and they disintegrate to dust. Max falls into the clutches of Winifred as he hangs for his life off her broomstick after drinking the last of the potion in place of his sister Dani.
Hocus Pocus’s appeal stems from audience’s ability to relate to the characters. Sympathizing with Max’s struggle of loneliness that goes along with a big move and Dani’s yearning to spend time with her cool older brother while trick or treating are situations not too unfamiliar to many.
The Sanderson sisters’ distinct personalities make them immortal icons in the cinematic world. Winnie’s overconfident leadership, Mary’s oblivious outbursts, and Sarah’s flirtatious personality lead the characters into forming a divergent, unforgettable trio. Not only are they recognized for their personalities, but costumes as well. Green skin, black outfit, and a jutting nose are the classic characteristics of witches. Yet the only standard witch stereotype the Sanderson witches are equipped with are broomsticks. Winnie’s memorable buck teeth and frizzy red curls, Mary’s lopsided, mountainous updo, and Sarah long, blonde locks paint a new picture of a witch’s appearance.
The Sanderson sisters’ comedic personalities keep a light-hearted tone throughout the film. Ultimately, keeping the perception of witches, zombies, and even death in a kid friendly manner that fits for the movie’s PG rating. Although, the special effects are about 20 years outdated, the film can still keep viewers young and old thoroughly entertained with classic Halloween tributes, a unique and more mellow spin on the Salem witch hunt, an unwavering element of family sacrifice demonstrated by both Max and Thackery.
Release Date: July 16, 1993
Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw & Sean Murray
Director: Kenny Ortega
Run Time: 1 hr 36 min
Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures
IMDB: @Hocus Pocus
Wiki Link: @Hocus Pocus
Cathleen Meyer | Writing Contributor
B.A. | Communications | Cal State Univ – San Marcos
Cathleen is a college student who places an importance on being active and is an old soul at heart. Her music taste is a jumble of different artists with favorites like ABBA, Def Leppard, Journey, and Fleetwood Mac. When it comes to movies, musicals and 80s are her first choice. Cathleen wrote for her school newspaper for two years in high school and since then has participated in a government and human resources internship. She enjoys delving into a good book whenever possible, with time period pieces being her favorite type of literature to explore. Being a Disney fan since birth, her favorite time is spent with her family at the happiest place on Earth. A personal hobby of Cathleen’s since she was young, is hairstyling and makeup. Once she completes college, she plans to attend Paul Mitchell Beauty School to follow her passion. Cathleen hopes to apply her communication and literature degree to a variety of career paths most importantly including public relations. | Instagram @Cat17Cat| View My Blogs
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