No Halloween movie list is complete without Hocus Pocus. It is a classic family friendly film that has garnered more and more attention over time and become a cult classic. In fact, Disney has the Sanderson sisters performing the show “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltaculaon” on stage for Mickey’s Not So Scary (which is awesome by the way). You can even watch the video here of the performance if you can’t manage to get to the theme park during the event.
About: The story revolves around the reawakening of the Sanderson witch sisters; Winifred, Mary and Sarah in the year 1993 in Salem returning after 300 years. 300 years ago they were responsible for the kidnapping of a teenage boy’s (Thackery Binks) sister, using her youth and sucking her dry in order to remain young themselves. Attempting to stop them, Thackery was transformed into an immortal black cat to torture him over the guilt of allowing his sister to be killed. The sisters were later caught and hung, but cast a spell that they would return during the full moon of All Hallows Eve by a virgin. Of course, the main protagonist who just moved to town in then present day, named Max Dennison, ultimately is responsible for awakening them on Halloween Night. With the help of Thackery Binks, he has to protect his sister and stop the witches from sucking the life force of any other children before dawn to prevent them from staying on Earth. While critics seemed to dislike the movie, earning it a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, audience scores rate it 70%. After many rebroadcasts, the film has become a cult classic. There are also rumors of a sequel but nothing has been greenlit by Disney as of this posting.
Warning! Spoilers might lie ahead!
The Plot/Characters: The plot is actually fairly involved, which I think makes the story more interesting. It starts back in 1693 with the sisters being hung. Thackery Binks, an immortal black cat due to the curse the sisters put on him, acts as a protector in Salem, attempting to keep people away from their spell book and from reawakening the sisters. Out of guilt, he has done this for 300 years. That’s a pretty strong motivation right there. In fact, Thackery Binks is easily the most stand-out character of the film, easily winning your heart with his motivations and as you learn more about him, your heart goes out for the guy. Max is the one that reawakens the sisters and Thackery explains what he has done. The sisters are back on Halloween night and see all the children ripe for picking so they set out to gather as many as possible in order to create a life potion. Only, they need their spellbook first, which Max has stolen. Max, his little sister (Dani) and a girl he has a crush on (Allison) end up being pursued by the sisters throughout the night as they try to keep away from them and keep the book safe. Some of the acting is over the top with the younger cast, but with names like Bette Midler as Winifred, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah and even Sean Murray (NCIS) as Thackery Binks, it makes up for some of the inexperience. The sisters themselves are so colorful and full of personality as well which really adds to the story tremendously as well as a lot of the humor.
The Scares(?): Despite being a Disney film (or maybe because of it) this movie as a lot of darker elements. Right off the bat, it starts with Thachery’s sister, Emily, being essentially murdered by the witches, as she is dead after they drain her life force. The motivation for the sisters is to remain young forever by taking that life energy from children and they are targeting children on a day that they are out enjoying themselves, blending in with all the other costumed characters as well. The main characters are pursued for the spell book through a graveyard where zombies are brought to life and one chases them with his head even falling off at some points.
Of course, the scares are tame, since its a family film, so there are no intense jumpscares and certainly no gore, but the fact remains that there are creepy elements, especially for children. Even the scene where Thackery is turned into a cat for a kid can be intense. Of course, as an adult, this would seem tame, especially with CGI these days. Overall, not really frightening.
The Humor: Jam packed with humor, this movie has enough for both kids and adults to keep you entertained and quoting the movie long after its over. The sisters are such colorful characters that they make most of the humor themselves just in the sheer ridiculousness in their actions like Mary on a vacuum cleaner when they don’t have their brooms.
The sisters reactions to being in 1963 and them freaking out about the fact that they are standing on asphalt, believing that it might melt them, was the best thing ever. They’re not even sure what a bus is.
The Score: You can’t mention the OST or the score without immediately thinking of the famous song sung by Winifred, “I Put a Spell On You”. It’s catchy and one of those songs that immediately sticks in your head. It doesn’t help that the actual song is a spell that then causes all of the people at the party to continuously dance. I listened to this song on repeat for about an hour and I can tell you… It does feel like she put a spell on me to hit that loop button.
But Hocus Pocus also has another song that is also very rememberable that Sarah sings called “Come Little Children” which will leave you oddly entranced but also frightened, as it’s a spell for children to come to them in order for their life force to be sucked out.
Overall: It’s hard to explain the charm in a cult classic, but it’s hard not to love this movie despite some of the cheesier elements to it. The songs, the humor and the actual thought behind the plot make this movie for me.
And now, I put a spell on you to go watch the movie!
Have you seen Hocus Pocus yet? If so, what did you think?