Three witches are resurrected on Halloween night and only two
teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat can save the town.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Directed by Kenny Ortega
Written by Mick Garris, Neil Cuthbert, David Kirschner
Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker,
Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Sean Murray, Doug Jones
Hocus Pocus might just be the definitive family Halloween movie. It was a box office bomb upon release, which was in July of 1993 because nobody at Disney owned a calendar back then. But thanks to repeated airings on the Disney Channel, it's become a cult classic that many families (including my own) simply can't fathom not watching in October. It pushes the limit of what a for-kids Disney movie can be, featuring taboo subjects like murder and teenage romance. Plus, it's aged like wine as a perfect snapshot of the early 90s.
In Salem, in the 1690s, three evil witches conspire to steal the lifeforce of every child in town. Winifred (Midler), Sarah (Parker), and Mary (Najimy) are caught first, and executed for witchcraft. Three hundred years later, a non-believing virgin accidentally brings them back to life for one night only, and together with his high school crush, his little sister, and a cursed talking cat, he must stop them before they reenact their master plan. It's a delightful romp through modern Salem, complete with zombies, cursed songs, a faux Satan, and two of the dumbest 90s movie bullies ever seen on film.
Hocus Pocus has been such an essential piece of my yearly Halloween experience that I honestly can't imagine leaving it out. It's hilarious, witty, charming, and so memorable that we're finally getting a sequel after nearly thirty years. It's a cult classic in every sense of the word.
Another classic case of not doing too hot when originally released in theaters, but gaining a massive cult following due to numerous television airings and home video releases. I originally saw Hocus Pocus on TV one day as a kid and quickly fell in love with it. To this day, it's still one of my all time favorite movies. A movie that I look forward to watching with my own family someday.
The three witches are played to perfection by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. All three actresses are wonderful in their roles and a hoot to watch. One of my all time favorite scenes involving the witch sisters being when they sing "I Put A Spell on You." It's undeniably catchy and the actresses do a phenomenal job. The teenage cast is also good in their respective roles. They play a group of kids who are generally likable and easy to root for. Hocus Pocus tends to be a surprisingly dark movie for Disney, something you would think would prove detrimental to the picture. Luckily, the darker elements work in its favor, giving it a sense of spookiness that younger horror fans will appreciate.
As a horror fan in my youth, Hocus Pocus quickly pulled me in and never let go. Something that has continued to this day as a young adult. It has quickly become a holiday staple for me and something I always look forward to watching. Considering its massive cult following, I'm not the only one.