Happy Halloween! Monday Halloweens can be kind of a bummer, but we’ve got a treat (pun intended) for you! A post for you all to gush over your favorite Halloween themed movie! No, not Ernest Scared Stupid. But the early 90s bundle of goodness that is Hocus Pocus! I watched it last night with some friends, because that’s how any self-respecting adult should spend their evenings. But if you don’t own it on DVD (and you should), it will be playing tonight on ABC Family at 9/8 central. So come and join us as we analyze this holiday classic!
The So-Called Plot
Colonial Salem is home to the Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy), three evil witches who feed off the lives of the local children. When Thackery Binx notices his young sister Emily being lured toward the witches’ cottage, he sets off to rescue her. But Emily is killed and the Sanderson sisters transform Thackery into a black cat, cursed to live forever with the guilt letting his sister die. The villagers catch and hang the sisters, but not before they cast a spell. On the night of a full moon, a virgin will light the black flamed candle and summon them back from the dead, so they can continue to gobble up the lives of Salem’s children.
Flash forward to the year 1993 and teenager Max (Omri Katz) has just moved from LA to Salem. Perpetually donning tie-dye, sweet Nike kicks and a bad attitude, Max is frustrated by his new small town and their obsession with Halloween and witches. Stuck trick-or-treating with his little sister Dani (Thora Birch), Max runs into his school crush, Alison. In order to try and impress Alison/get into her pants/touch her yabbos, Max convinces Alison to take him and Dani to the old Sanderson sister house. The house, once a museum, is now run down and abandoned. Despite the legend, the black candle and the sister’s spellbook made of human skin are left out in the open, for anyone to use/steal/activate. Believing the old stories to be “just a bunch of hocus pocus”, Max defies all good sense and lights the black candle. Since it is a full moon and Max is a VIRGIN, the Sanderson sisters are summoned back from the dead. The sisters have until sunrise to feast on more children or they will die forever. Can Max, Alison, Dani and talking cat Thackery Binx stop them in time?
Omri Katz as Max
Omri was one of my first television/movie boyfriends. He starred in Eerie, Indiana, which was one of the greatest children’s shows of all time. And if you didn’t develop a crush on Omri from that, Hocus Pocus would surely have sealed the deal. And then I never saw him again.
Thora Birch as Dani
This is the movie that always reminds me that Thora was a serious child star long before American Beauty made her a household name. And as much as I usually hate precocious children is movies…she was just so damn cute in this one.
Kathy Najimy as Mary, Bette Midler as Winifred, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah
What is there to say about Bette Midler? She’s freaking Bette Midler. This is also one of those weird appearances of SJP after her teen career and before she became Carrie. And this was pretty much peak time for Kathy Najimy since Hocus Pocus was released smack in the middle of Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
Chemistry Grade: N/A
I guess this movie’s target audience was a bit too young to play out the romance between Max and Alison. I mean, they don’t even kiss. They get an almost kiss. Tragic. They do get one illicit cuddle/sleepover though. I mean, who knows what went down there when the cameras weren’t looking.
Cliché Count: 9
Was this movie clever enough to avoid clichés? Or was I just not paying attention? Probably the latter!
- Kid angry about moving: 1
- Bullying: 2
- Doing that thing that everyone warns you not to do: 1
- Adults refusing to believe children: 2
- Break into song: 1
- Wrongfully assuming the bad guy(s) are defeated: 1
- Animal death for cheap tears: 1
I honestly can’t tell if this movies so quotable because the lines are good or if it’s just that I’ve watched it so many times. Regardless, some of my favorites include:
Winifred: “Sisters, All Hallow’s Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amok!”
Sarah: “Amok, amok, amok, amok, amok…”
Zombie Billy: “Go to hell!”
Winifred: “Oh! I’ve been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely.”
Soundtrack: The Devine Miss M
If you cast Bette Midler to star in a movie and DON’T find a way to get her to sing, you’re doing it wrong. This is really the only real song in the entire movie, but it sure is a good one. In fact, if you’ve ever put together a Halloween themed mix, I guarantee you this song was on it.
Slumber Party Potential: For that Special Time of Year
The movie is perfect for a group viewing session once a year, right before Halloween. If you grew up at the right time for this movie, it is like an instant hit of nostalgia for the days when you used to go trick-or-treating, stuffing yourself with candy, until you and your friends passed out in front of whatever scary movie you’d rented from the video store.