Flashback Review: Hocus Pocus

In 1993, Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” came out on October 13, 1993. It became an instant classic considered as one of best Halloween/Christmas themed films as well as one of Disney’s best films. We all know this timeless classic spawned numerous merchandise, crossovers in video games like the “Kingdom Hearts” series and last but not least a video game sequel titled, “Oogie’s Revenge.” Another Halloween themed movie known as, “Hocus Pocus” came out, which eventually became a beloved classic.

Hocus Pocus was released in July 16th, 1993. (approximately a week before I was born) At the time of its release, Hocus Pocus received mixed reviews from critics including the late Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert who didn’t like it. In addition to divisive reactions, it failed to make a profit at the box office.

Overtime, Hocus Pocus became a cult classic among kids who grew up in The 90’s or were born in that time period like me. Thanks to a dedicated fanbase, Hocus Pocus made money on the home video market. This encouraged Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family) to air the film as part of their traditional “31 Nights Of Halloween” airing every October. Even Bette Middler wore her iconic Winnie outfit during her “Divine Intervention Tour” recreating the infamous “I Put A Spell On You” scene.

A sequel is currently in the works with Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker & Kathy Najimy slated to reprise their roles as The Sanderson Sisters. As of 2020, no official release date has been confirmed, Hocus Pocus 2 will someday stream on Disney Plus. Halloween Month 2020 is a go, so don’t forget to watch the original on Disney Plus or on Freeform.

I don’t care if SPOILERS are listed. Some of us who grew up in The 90’s or were born in the decade are aware of it, courtesy of a dedicated fanbase. If you haven’t got a chance to see Hocus Pocus, it’s a requirement to watch it first before you read my review. Is Hocus Pocus a Halloween classic or just another Disney dud? Let’s dive deep into the barrel shall we?

Magical & Hex Qualities

Magical: Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker & Kathy Najimy all did a hilarious job for their respective performances as The Sanderson Sisters.

Fun Fact: Both Bette & Sarah later worked together in “The First Wives Club” as enemies.

Other Cast Members such as Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Doug Jones (Abe Sapien from Hellboy) & Omri Katz (who hasn’t been around since this movie) all did a great job for their respective performances.

Kenny Ortega (High School Musical Trilogy, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, The Descendants Trilogy) did a decent job directing.

Cinematography never had a bad case of Shaky Cam.

The film is set in 1993. Again, the year I was born. It also takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. Back in 1693, The Salem Witch Trials actually happened. The event was made into a play called, “The Crucible.” Then it was adapted into a film starring Winona Ryder & Daniel Day-Lewis. I remember learning about it when I was in high school during literature class.

Hocus Pocus’ infamous “I Put A Spell On You” scene served as perhaps the primary moment of the whole movie.

Primary Themes for the film are Siblings, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Fish Out Of Water & I swear I’m not making this up, Virginity. (mentioned a few times) When I was little, I never understood the definition of a virgin. I thought it was a fictional word for a mortal or weakling. Now that I’m older, I’m shocked Disney had the guts to use that word. Could be worse, if they added the birds from “Dumbo” doing a musical number.

Practical Effects were used to create some certain scenes such as The Sanderson Sisters on their broomsticks, their home manually built as a set piece and their costumes are designed by professional tailors.

Humor has some laugh out loud moments. Especially Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah. You can tell she’s having a good time in character.

Bette Middler’s character is named, Winnie. A reference to Winnie The Pooh. A wink to Disney fans.

The Sanderson Sisters’ villainous motivation is to suck out a kid’s essence in order to restore their youth before the sun rises.

After being resurrected, The Sanderson Sisters go through a “fish out of water” experience trying to adjust to 1993. “Coneheads” also had a similar theme with Beldar & Prymatt trying to blend into society, except they don’t eradicate humanity.

After Binx transformed into a cat. The Sanderson Sisters’ magic contains a side effect, he can’t die. Not a big deal when you’re cursed without living a proper life as a human turned cat.

Character Development involving Max & his sister Dani. As the story progresses, they begin to respect each other as brother & sister.

Sarah Jessica Parker actually ate a real spider on set. Brad Pitt also did the same thing in “12 Monkeys.”

Binx’s younger sister Emily, kickstarts the plot as the The Sanderson Sisters’ victim when her essence is sucked by the trio.

If you have an eagle eye, Max owns a skateboard of Pinhead from “Hellraiser.”

There’s an Easter Egg with the water fountain depicted from the opening credits of “Friends.” Don’t believe me? Look it up.

Gary Marshall and his sister Penny make cameo appearances.

After defeating The Sanderson Sisters, Binx in spirit form goes to the afterlife biding farewell to his friends is a nod to the ending from “Ghost” starring the late Patrick Swayze.

The two kids Jay & Ice (who’s dressed like YouTube comic book critic Lewis Lovhaug/Linkara) get what they deserved being trapped in their own cage as karma for snatching Max’s shoes an candy.

Hex: Some of the visual effects didn’t age pretty well for a movie that came out in 1993. Binx The Talking Black Cat’s scene look fake when he’s on camera. A Green Screen is dated. Let’s face it, this was back when Jurassic Park set a benchmark in special effects at the time when they slowly evolved to today’s effects in a pristine state.

The movie ends with a freeze-frame. I dislike it, because I tend to make fun of it pretending I’m a narrator on a cheesy soap opera. I prefer to end a movie cutting to black or fade to black.

The Final Verdict: B, FOR BREAKOUT!

Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus is Halloween classic which continues to air on Freeform every October for people who grew up or were born in The 90’s, will let this gem live on to introduce their kids to it. If you have nothing to do during Halloween Month, I highly recommend Hocus Pocus to your kids. I can’t wait for the sequel to become a reality on Disney Plus.

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