Hocus Pocus (1993)


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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),

They're all gonna be Miss October in next year's Witches Calendar!
They’re all gonna be Miss October in next year’s Witches Calendar!

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.

Although, if you told me that this was a very young Hilary Swank, I would very much believe you!
Although, if you told me that this was a very young Hilary Swank, I would very much believe you!

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.

Ok, women who read my blog: If you were told that a guy that you might have a crush on loved your yabos, what would your honest reaction be? Would you be flattered and take it calmly as Allison does in this film? Or would you be insulted? Or would you be annoyed? Or what? I genuinely wanna know how you would react to being told that someone loves your yabos! Oh, and for those who don't know what yabos are, they're...ears, yeah, that's it...ears.
Ok, women who read my blog: If you were told that a guy that you might have a crush on loved your yabos, what would your honest reaction be? Would you be flattered and take it calmly as Allison does in this film? Or would you be insulted? Or would you be annoyed? Or what? I genuinely wanna know how you would react to being told that someone loves your yabos! Oh, and for those who don’t know what yabos are, they’re…ears, yeah, that’s it…ears.

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

"Nothing enflamed, nobody blamed."
“Nothing inflamed, nobody blamed.”

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.

I mean, once a black cat starts talking to you, you gotta become a believer!
I mean, once a black cat starts talking to you, you gotta become a believer!
Now, a black cat writing? Now that's just silly!
Now, a black cat writing? Now that’s just silly!

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.

"You cursed brats! Look what you've done! We're burning...burning!"
“You cursed brats! Look what you’ve done! We’re burning…burning!”
They've since disintegrated into a Stephen King villain.
They’ve since disintegrated into a Stephen King villain.

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!

They look so cozy together! At least her yabos are covered...her ears, I mean her ears!
They look so cozy together! At least her yabos are covered…her ears, I mean her ears!
"Thanks for watching! Please pick up any and all trash from the floor before you exit the cinema! Have a wonderful day!"
“Thanks for watching! Please pick up any and all trash from the floor before you exit the cinema! Have a wonderful day!”

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!

"'Tis true. The pen is mightier than the sword."
“‘Tis true. The pen is mightier than the sword.”

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.

Or in Mary's case, a vacuum cleaner that's not plugged into anything.
Or in Mary’s case, a vacuum cleaner that’s not plugged into anything.

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.

"The eye never tells! MUAHAHAHAAA!"
“The eye never tells! MUAHAHAHAAA!”

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?

Admittedly, they were an uncredited surprise!
Admittedly, they were an uncredited surprise!

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,

Mainly because I've falled in love with Sarah and have added her to my list of fictional crushes!
Mainly because I’ve falled in love with Sarah and have added her to my list of fictional crushes!

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.

19 thoughts on “Hocus Pocus (1993)

  1. Yeah I don’t like this film either. The weird attention to virginity feels out of place in a Disney film and no I do not want anyone oogling my yabos! Ha

    1. I didn’t feel they put attention to virginity as much as the NC was implying that they did (before he re-reviewed the film for Disneycember), but yeah, I would never think Disney would even have the word, “virgin”, in any of their scripts.

      And lol, cool. I do my best too not to ogle women’s yabos, lol!

      1. Yeah it’s very strange. I never got the appeal of this movie even when I was younger.

  2. Unless, I happen to get roped in with a group of friends who happen to be fans of this film, I might not get around to seeing Hocus Pocus any time soon! Though, based on this review, I’m probably not missing out on much, as there are other overlooked Disney films from the 90s to fall back on.

      1. Personally, I would find a review on the 1994 release of “The Jungle Book” or 1998’s “Mighty Joe Young” more interesting, as I grew up with both of them and even on revisiting I cannot bring myself to fault them as films, I still enjoy them on a very personal level – even if not a lot of people like or know about them.

  3. Okay so first of all, if someone told me they liked my yabos my reaction would probably be something like, “really, how old are you.” But that also might be because I’m 28 years old lol. If it had happened when I was 16… I probably would have giggled a lot, and pretended to be offended but actually kinda flattered. But hey, I hear I have really nice… ears.

    I’m totally with you on the movie. So many people my age are super into it, it has this weird cult following. So I’ve watched it at a lot of Halloween parties and stuff, and I’m always thinking, “this movie is so BAD!” haha.

  4. First of all, if someone told me they loved my yabos, my reactions would probably just be, “Ummm, how old are you?” But then again I’m 28 lol. If it happened when I was 16 I would probably giggle a lot and be a little offended but also a little flattered. But hey, I hear that I have nice… ears.

    As for the movie, I never liked it. Among people my age it seems to have a bit of a cult following that I’ve never understood. It’s often put on at Halloween parties and I watch it thinking, “Why is this movie so bad??”

    1. Lol nice! Yeah, my instinct would be that a teenage girl would have a small level of feeling flattered due to the “yabos” compliment, but it would still be mixed with an indignation of “Gee, how mature.”, lol! Just wanted to know from the horses’ mouths, so to speak.

      And I’m pretty sure you have nice…ears, indeed, lol!

      Yeah, I can’t even imagine how people liked this movie when it came out! But, hey, whatever floats your boat.

  5. First off, if (when I was a teenager) someone had said they liked my yabos, I probably would have smacked them.

    I have to admit this is an extreme guilty pleasure movie of mine. I know it is awful and campy but I can’t help but love it. To me it brings back a TON of nostalgia that I can’t seem to get rid of. I mean as a kid you think it’s HILARIOUS to have 16th century (??) witches running around in 90s Salem. “Look! they think the road is a black river!” “Look, they think Penny Marshall is Medusa!” It’s funny to a kid. And apparently to me….

    I really understand why people hate this movie, but I can’t. It’s how I got introduced to Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, it’s why I started watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch (I absolutely loved Binx as a kid), and it’s the movie that taught me what a “virgin” was (true story… i was 8).

    Fair review though. Had I seen it now, I would think it was god awful. Oh and one more thing: I believe Bette Midler IS trying to get a sequel. Or that’s just rumors.

    1. Lol nice! I felt that different women would have different reactions to having their yabos complimented, so I just wanted to hear from you guys to hear how you’d all react.

      Yeah, I can totally understand why people have a guilty pleasure of this film especially if they grew up watching it. I’m glad I’m only seeing it now, so my dislike of the film is still there, lol!

      Yeah, I would imagine that many kids wouldn’t know what a virgin was if they were watching this movie. I don’t think I knew what a virgin was until I was in my teens…and even then, I didn’t quite get it, lol!

      To the best of my knowledge, I think Bette Midler was once trying to get a sequel up and running, but I think they’ve given up on it now. But, I could be wrong.

      Thanks for commenting!

      1. I remember reading about Mary being a virgin in my bible studies as a child and I was under the impression it referred to her being a member of some special religion or group.

  6. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so I’ll just say I have fond memories of this film. It’s not one I go out of my way to rewatch, but if it’s on TV and I come across it I’ll stop and watch.

  7. Me personally, I only remember this movie for the song ‘Come little children’, it was hauntingly beautiful. I will agree that the quality is bad, and that it works better as a DCOM movie. But, I personally find it to just be fun, and a nice change of pace from the horror films that we see around Halloween.

    1. Welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting!

      Yeah, I definitely understand why people enjoy watching it at Halloween; I just don’t think it’s a good film.

      But yeah, “Come Little Children” is a great song!

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