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Originally planned to be a Disney Channel Original Movie, today’s film was deemed good enough to be upgraded to a theatrical release. As a result of that, the film received mixed reviews and didn’t perform all that amazingly at the box office. Nevertheless, the film has since gone on to gain a cult following who watches it at least once a year around Halloween time. Without further ado, let’s take a look at Hocus Pocus!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie begins in the year 1693 in a small Puritan-style village in Salem, Massachusetts. Residing in the village are three witches known as the Sanderson Sisters. They are composed of quirky Mary, played by Kathy Najimy, ditzy and boy-crazy Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and the no-nonsense leader of the trio, Winnie, played by Bette Midler.
They’re quite old and ugly, but have found a way to look young and beautiful forever. They’ve lured a young Puritan girl named Emily to their cottage and use a spell to absorb the girl’s youthfulness into them. Emily’s brother, Thackery Binx, played by Sean Murray, tries to stop this from happening, but is unsuccessful. The result is that Emily dies, the witches gain beauty (or somewhat beauty),
and Binx is transformed into an immortal black cat.
Fortunately, the townspeople arrive on the scene not long after and hang the witches for killing Emily. Before the witches are hanged, however, they cast a spell dictating that they’ll be resurrected should a virgin light a particular Black Flame Candle found in their cottage on All Hallow’s Eve. Binx decides to spend the rest of his immortal life guarding the Candle from any pyromaniac virgin who might chance upon it and decide to light it.
We then fast-forward to the year 1993 where the story of the Sanderson Sisters has become a cultural legend to all the Salem townspeople. Teenager Max Dennison, played by Omri Katz, however, is not a believer in any of these Halloween legends that the townspeople believe in. He has recently moved to Salem with his family from Los Angeles and just can’t find anything cool about this hick town. Well, there is one thing he likes about the town, a fellow classmate, Allison, played by Vinessa Shaw.
He flirts with her, gives her his phone number, and fantasizes being with her when he’s home alone. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for us), he can’t do much fantasizing today as it’s Halloween night and he he has to take his younger sister, Dani, played by Thora Birch, trick-or-treating.
Don’t get me wrong: he loves his sister, but he just can’t get into all this Halloween stuff. Lucky for him though, one of the houses they stumble across is Allison’s. He gets to talk with her more and introduce Dani to her. Dani then tells Allison how she loves her dress and how Max talks about loving Allison’s yabos.
Anyway, Allison offers to take Max and Dani to the Sanderson Sisters’ cottage. It was made into a museum, but has since been shut down due to “spooky things happening”. But, Allison’s mother used to run the place, so Allison manages to have a set of keys to get in.
They look at everything and even see the Black Flame Candle of legend. Max tries to be a cool teenager and decides to light the candle to prove nothing will happen. Binx the cat is there and tries to stop Max from doing this, but is unsuccessful. Max lights the candle
and trouble starts happening! Lights and flames flicker on and off, the door opens, and in steps the three Sanderson Sisters happy to be alive once more!
When they see the three kids, they try to catch them, but the kids manage to escape along with Binx and the witches’ spellbook. Binx shows the kids that he’s able to speak (and is now voiced by Jason Marsden) and directs them to a graveyard, a hallowed ground upon which witches cannot step foot. He explains to the kids all what’s going on and Max finally becomes a believer in all these legends.
Meanwhile, the witches set out to find the kids to retrieve the spellbook from them. You see, this resurrection spell only lasts until the morning. They still have to conjure up another spell that will suck the youth/life out of a young child again to keep them alive and young forever. Unfortunately, for them, the recipe for the spell is in the spellbook and none of the witches remember it by heart. So, it’s off to find the spellbook!
After trying to explain what’s going on to a cop (well, a guy dressed as a cop for Halloween) and their parents, the kids realize that nobody’s going to believe them. So, they figure they have to get rid of the witches on their own. They lure the witches to their high school somehow and get them to enter a sort of incinerator and burn them to ashes.
The kids rejoice at the witches’ demise, head back to Max’s house, and take a good nap to recover from the night’s events. And Max finally gets what he wants: Allison in his arms!
Ok, no, that’s not the ending. You see, we’re only an hour into the film and the film is supposed to have an extra half hour to go. So, the writers decided to bring back the witches to life so that the movie can continue. How/why are the witches not dead? Again, it’s because the script says they’re not!
Anyway, now that they’re alive, they head to the Dennisons’ house and kidnap Dani and the book before Max and Allison can stop them. They take Dani and the book back to their cottage to prepare the spell to absorb Dani’s life into them. But, Max and Allison arrive in time with their vehicle and use the headlights to distract the witches into thinking daytime has arrived. While the witches are panicking, Max rescues Dani and the book and they all head back to the graveyard.
The witches go after them and have a final battle with the kids at the graveyard. Since the witches can’t set foot there, their end of the battle is done flying on their brooms.
But soon, the Sun begins to rise beckoning in the daylight. This causes the sisters to disintegrate, Binx’s curse is broken and his soul is freed to join his sister’s, and the kids are finally free of the witches once and for all! Once and for all? Well, we cut to the spellbook opening its eye and the movie ends on that hinting that maybe the witches may return for a sequel.
Thankfully, this movie didn’t do all that well for a sequel and despite how badly the fans of this film may want one, I doubt we’ll ever get a sequel to this film. And I’m quite happy about that!
Hocus Pocus is a really sloppily-made film. You can see that it was meant to be a DCOM and it probably should have remained one. The writing is so sloppy and filled with plot holes, the acting ranges from good (the witches) to bad (the kids), and the overall film is just not that well-made. However, I can see why this is a guilty pleasure for some. Maybe people enjoy the witches enough to watch this film once a year? Maybe the humor in it is something that grasps their attention? Maybe they like the cameos from Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall dressed up as the Devil and Medusa for Halloween?
Whatever the case may be, I can understand if you like this film as a guilty pleasure. I, on the other hand, am grateful that I finally watched it,
but I am no fan at all of this film!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 18/35 = 51.43% (F) !
The next review will be posted on April 25th.