10 Days of Halloween – Hocus Pocus

8 – Hocus Pocus

Before we continue into real horror movies — and because it’s a Monday and those are scary enough —  I thought we would stop off in 1993 in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is primarily known for the horror of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 and 1693, famous partly because they took place so long after the bulk of the witch hunting had petered out, from 1400 to about 1700 (this being one of the last). I find it sad that such a beautiful place is besmirched by a little over a year in time. For the hell of it, I present you with a picture stolen from a travel site, highlighting autumn in Salem.

This is their autumn, and I’m currently looking at a week of temps in the high 80s. *bitter and struck by beauty all at once*

This is their autumn, and I’m currently looking at a week of temps in the high 80s. *bitter and struck by beauty all at once*

Now that we have dispensed with the obligatory historical context, we get into one of the best and most beloved Halloween movies of our time, Hocus Pocus. Anyone with an inkling of sanity and taste who isn’t a religious nutjob can at least see that this movie is cute and does what it’s supposed to – entertain. It’s fun, funny, cheesy, overacted, and totally fantastic. It has a huge cult following, and it’s beloved by many.

Apparently, the critics hated it — it still sits at a meager 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. To put that into perspective, the average score for all five Twilight films is 39.8% (in order of release: 49, 28, 49, 24, and 49, in case you care). Think about that. Hocus Pocus, one of the cutest and most beloved Halloween movies is rated lower than the Twilight hackery — a universally panned and reviled series (despite the millions and millions of teen girls’ money it leeched right out of their pockets).

The movie is about three sister witches whose essence-sucking shenanigans would make the Skeksis go out and take a Potions class. They snatch a little girl, suck out her youth, get caught, and are killed. (It would be very dark were it not a Disney movie.) Before being hanged, a toothy Bette Midler curses Salem, saying that when a virgin lights the black flame candle on a full moon on Halloween, the sisters will come back to terrorize Salem. That’s a lot of stipulations to put on your own resurrection, but I assume the pressure of imminent death led Winnifred to babble out whatever she could to buy her and her sisters another few moments of life. Said events finally occur in 1993 (300 years after their hanging), mayhem ensues, the witches make some poor decisions based on revenge, and all the viewers with good taste are happy. (Seriously, though, Winnifred. You have like 100 children at your door. Suck their essences and then torture the insult-hurling Thora Birch at your leisure. You’re pressed for time and you’re up against children. This shouldn’t be difficult.)


There is a chase, the all-important search for a magic book, Bette Midler singing “I Put a Spell on You”, a delightfully brain-dead Sarah Jessica Parker (“Amok! Amok-amok-amok!), and Kathy Najimy abusing her nether regions with a vacuum (“We fly…*nervous giggle*…on what?). There are cute kids who grew up to be disturbingly letch-worthy adults (my advice is to not watch this if you have seen American Beauty in the past 30 days). There’s an occasionally headless zombie, a dance-till-you-die costume party, a brief French language lesson, and more fun than you should be allowed to have as an adult watching a kid’s Halloween movie. Bette Midler has said that this was the movie she has enjoyed making the most. If, during the Halloween season, you need a break from the nonstop horror movies, this is a good one to pop in, along with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.


As a side note, if you find yourself wondering if it’s worth it to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray, my advice is to do it. First, it’s super cheap (currently $12 for the DVD/Blu-ray combo). Second, the transfer is good and the movie looks great. Third, why not? If you’re this far, you probably like the movie enough to consider it.

As Winnifred reminded us when she, Mary, and Sarah recovered from being burned alive: Bonjour! Je veux mon livre!


~ by Darren Endymion on October 20, 2014.

One Response to “10 Days of Halloween – Hocus Pocus”

  1. Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:

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