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File:HocusPocus 9042.jpg

A 1993 Halloween-themed Disney film for "kids". This was the second film directed by Kenny Ortega, previously known for Newsies (1993). Now considered a cult favorite, the film's rather campy, but pretty entertaining. It does, after all, contain a memorable rendition of "I Put A Spell On You" by Bette Midler. The song "Come Little Children" from this film went on to become a Halloween classic.

The film opens in the year 1693. Thackery Binx (role shared by Sean Murray and Jason Marsden), a teenager living in Salem, Massachusetts, discovers his little sister Emily (Amanda Shepherd) has gone missing. Emily has been lured away to the farm of the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches--consisting of older sister/leader Winifred "Winnie" (Bette Midler), middle child/tracker Mary (Kathy Najimy) and little sister/siren-like predator Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker)--who suck the life-forces of little children to prolong their lives; such is the fate suffered by Emily. Thackery attempts to save her, but the sisters transform him into an immortal black cat. The sisters are soon after captured by the townspeople and hanged; before her death, Winnie pronounces her death-curse, that "on All Hallow's Eve, when the moon is round, a virgin will summon us from under the ground."

The scene shifts to 1993. The Dennisons are a California family who has just moved to Salem, bringing along teenaged son Max (Omri Katz) and 8-year-old daughter Dani (Thora Birch). Max is a virgin. Halloween night, Max takes his sister trick-or-treating and gets to hang with new Love Interest Allison (Vinessa Shaw). Allison tells him of the legend of the Sanderson sisters and of a supposed way to revive them; Max laughs and tries it out, bringing the Sandersons back to life. Now the three kids and the immortal cat Binx have to face the witches throughout the night, with the lives of every kid in Salem at risk.

While a 1994 side-scrolling platformer by the same name also exists, they don't have any connection to each other. Also unrelated is Kurt Vonnegut's 1991 novel of the same name.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Max, Dani and Allison have to flee the witches and zombie Billy Butcherson by following Thackery into the sewers, which are filled with spiders and rats, which is what Thackery eats as a cat! Very squicky to the trio.
  • Adults Are Useless: The children tried to get help from their parents and the rest of the partygoers at the party.
    • They also tried for help from the man they thought was a police officer. (He was only in costume.)
    • To be fair to the adults, all the kids did say was "I accidentally woke up the Sanderson witches" on Halloween in a town where the Sanderson witches "coming back to life" is probably the most common prank every single Halloween.
    • Max and Dani's parents are useless long before anything supernatural happens. When Max comes home in his stocking feet after his shoes are stolen by bullies, they assume it's somehow a form of protest against them.
    • And at the party, when Billy (the zombie) pushes between the parents and chases the children:

 Mom: (cheerfully) I wish we had the camera.

 Winifred: We desire...children.

Bus Driver: Hey, it may take me a couple of tries, but I don't think there will be a problem.

 Jay: Man, how come it's always the ugly chicks that stay out late?!

Winifred: "Chicks?"

    • Contrast with Winifred's offense at Dani calling her "Ugly."
      • It's probable that Winifred is confused as to her and her sisters being referred to as "chicks." When they're from, chicks are baby chickens.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in a Disney movie! The Sanderson Sisters kill Emily.

 The Nostalgia Chick: First plot point, death of a child.

  • Intellectual Animal: Binx to some extent, but especially when compared to those around him...
  • Ironic Echo: At one point, Winifred swoops in on the kids, taunting them with Max's earlier line "It's just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!" Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize Winifred wasn't Back From the Dead yet when Max said it, and couldn't have heard it.
    • Winifred references Gypsy and Elton John. She apparently had the ability to be aware of certain things while dead.
    • Indeed, for how this movie works, just because the character is dead doesn't mean they can't see/hear what's going on.
  • Large Ham: Bette Midler. And it's surprisingly awesome.
  • Life Energy: With the help of a potion, the witches could just take a few long whiffs and their victim will be dead.
  • Light Is Not Good: Beautiful, sunny-haired, ditzy Sarah, singing sweetly to lure children to their deaths at the hands of the witches.
  • Literal Metaphor: "I Put a Spell on You" as sung by Winnie.
  • Magic Music: "Come Little Children" and "I Put a Spell on You" combine this with Compelling Voice, providing an excellent justification for a Villain Song.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The devil is implied to be behind the Sandersons (see "Satan" below)
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: The audience is reminded every five minutes that Max is one. Rather jarring considering the target audience and that Max is young enough to still be commuting by bicycle. Seriously, Disney?
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: In one scene Max introduces himself to the two bullies, Jay and "Ice", and says he's from L.A. Since they realize where he's from, they start calling Max "Hollywood" from then on.
  • New Age Retro Hippie: Max appears to be this at first, and gets treated this way by most of the other characters. And who can blame them? Max does wear a tie-dyed T-shirt and harbors radical left-wing beliefs (such as his suspicion that Halloween is actually a conspiracy on the part of the candy companies). But he ultimately subverts the stereotype when he's offered a marijuana cigarette and he turns it down.
  • The Nineties: Max's hair alone dates this movie.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: What kicks the whole plot off in the modern time when Max lights the enchanted candle, of course he didn't know the legend was real at the time but still. Binx even nearly title drops the trope name when he reveals to Max he can talk.

 Binx: (sarcastically) Nice going, Max.

  • No Ontological Inertia: The party-goers are cursed to dance until they die. The curse ends when the witches die.
    • Also, Binx and Billy are allowed to die.
  • Not So Harmless: The Sandersons may seem comically bumbling about 80 percent of the time, but you'd be wise not to mess with them when they really get angry. Sarah in particular seems a harmless, ditzy woman through most of the movie. Then she starts singing sweetly, luring children out, and you know she's deadly.
  • Oh Crap: Billy reacts in this way twice, each time just before he (literally) loses his head.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Those skull-faced jazzers/rockers at the Halloween party were pretty cool.
    • It may take a second viewing to realize that these performers segued from "Witchcraft" into "I Put a Spell on You" shortly before Winifred took over the show.
  • Painful Transformation: Thackery Binx, intentionally invoked by the Sanderson Sisters.
  • Perky Goth: Sarah, a rare villainous one.
  • Pillar of Light
  • Please Wake Up: Dani, to Binx. Harsher because he was immortal up until then.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted -- the apparent cop who bullies the children and insults Max's manhood is only in costume.
  • Product Placement: In one scene, "the Master" and his wife are tossing the Clark Bar candy bars to the Sanderson Sisters, but after discovering the weirdness of the sisters, the wife forces them to leave with the Clark Bars. Once they're back out on the prowl, Mary at first thinks that she has "a chocolate covered finger of a man named Clark", but when she eats the Clark Bar and discovers that it's candy, she asks why "the Master [would] give us candy", to which Winifred replies, "Because he's NOT our Master!"
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Sarah. She's so childlike, it's very easy to forget she's homicidal and very dangerous, and her idea of "play" likely involves death and, at one point, possibly torture. Sarah Jessica Parker's delivery makes her lines less creepy, until you think about them.
    • One line sums her up instantly.

 Sarah: My lucky rat tail! Just where I left it!

  • Really Gets Around: Sarah. It's honestly shocking for a Disney film that she flirts with every single male she comes across--from Thackery to Max to Billy to a random bus driver to Max's bullies to a random costumed man at the party...the list goes on and on. Although her idea of fun probably isn't what most men anticipate.

 Sarah: Thou wouldst hate me in the morning.

Bus Driver: No I wouldn't!...st.

Winifred: Believe me, thou wouldst.

  • Redhead in Green: Winifred.
  • Resurrective Immortality: What Thackery is cursed with.
  • Rule of Funny: The entire film, except for certain moments of Mood Whiplash.
  • Sanity Ball: Is briefly held by Sarah and Mary when they point out to Winifred that they don't need to chase after Max and Dani because they've already got a kid to feed their potion to, and thanks to Sarah's singing more are coming to the house. They can always make more potion afterwards because they've got the book back, but Winifred's too dead set on getting back at Dani for calling her "ugly" to care.
  • Satan: Never appears in person, but the Sanderson sisters call him their "master" and a museum sign claims he gave Winnifred her spell book.
  • Schmuck Bait: The candle.
  • See You in Hell:

 Billy Butcherson: Go to Hell!

Winifred: Oh! I've been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely.

  • Shadow Archetype: Max begins the film extremely self-centered, over-dramatic, short-tempered and showing an enormous amount of disdain for his annoying but loving little sister. Obvious and weak comparisons are drawn with Max and Binx, but the stronger parallels are with Max and Winifred, an extremely self-centered, over-dramatic and short-tempered witch who despises her incompetent, yet devoted, younger sisters. Sarah and Mary follow Winifred into what will clearly be their own demise and die after a clumsy attempt to save her from Max, a gesture Winifred would hardly return.

 Winifred: What a fool to give up thy life...for thy sister's.

  • Shock and Awe: Winnie can do this on Emperor Palpatine's levels.
  • Shout-Out: During the "I Put a Spell on You" number, Winnie calls out, "Hello, Salem, my name is Winifred! What's yours?" This is a nod to Mama Rose in Gypsy, who said, "Hello, world, my name is Rose! What's yours?" (which was spoken by Louise earlier) Doubles as an Actor Allusion when Bette Midler played Mama Rose in the TV version on the same year that Hocus Pocus was released.
    • At the beginning of "I Put a Spell on You", Winnie gives out a shout-out to one of Elton John's songs:

 Winifred: Now the Witch with a Capital B is back! And there's hell to pay.

 Winifred: WHY? Why was I cursed with such IDIOT sisters?

Sarah: Just lucky, I guess.

    • Binx as well. Max, Dani and Allison are about as sharp as bowling balls.
  • Take a Third Option: At the end, Max either has to give up the potion or Dani dies. What does he do? He drinks the potion instead.
  • Take Me Instead!: Max drinks the potion to keep Winifred from force-feeding it to Dani. "What a fool to give up thy life... for thy sister's."
  • Taken for Granite: Winifred... the result of her standing on "hallowed ground"... which was a big no-no when trying to steal Max's life.
  • Talking Animal: Binx.
  • Title Drop: "C'mon, it's all just a bunch of hocus pocus."
  • Together in Death: Binx's spirit reunited with his sister in the afterlife.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Winifred's spellbook. Bound in human skin (complete with human eyeball) and given to her by Satan himself. Plus, it's at least partially sentient.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sarah and Mary Sanderson.
    • The kids count, too.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Thackery's cursed immortality at the end, along with his sister, who has apparently been a ghost for 300 years.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Yabbos", to describe what Max loves.
  • Villain Ball: Winnie holds it pretty hard at some points, but the worst is when the three sisters have everything they need to win, at least temporarily -- enough potion to suck the lives of at least one child, which would give them enough time to live at least past Halloween and make more, plus the spellbook and a whole crowd of children on which to use it, and Winnie gives up the perfect opportunity to go get the life of one specific child, who called her "ugly." However, it's fairly justified, as Winnie had been shown many times beforehand to be vain, self-centered, arrogant and vindictive -- perfectly in-character to drop everything for meaningless revenge, while her unassertive and incompetent sisters are hardly able to dissuade her.
    • This could probably be her one true Idiot Ball moment too.
  • Villain Song: Two, "I Put A Spell On You", and the later "Come Little Children".
    • "Come Little Children" also opened the movie in Salem 300 years earlier.
  • Virgin Power:

 Max: (after feeling the room shake) What happened?

Dani: A virgin (referring to Max) lit the candle.

  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the three girls who got the Sandersons' brooms?
    • Well, you can hear a *whoosh* sound after they run off-camera.
    • Assuming the brooms had been around since the sisters were alive back in 1693 and if some kids tried to fly on the brooms but failed in the past, then with the sister's resurrection the magic has returned to them and stays. But what if the girls were flying at sunrise when the magic could leave...
    • The last we saw of Max's house was the Sanderson Sisters completely destroying the top floor. One wonders what his parents will think when they finally get home.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Happens to Binx in the beginning. Not that he wanted it in the first place.

 Winifred: We want to live forever. Not just until tomorrow!

 Sarah: Thou wouldst hate me in the morning.

Bus Driver: No I wouldn'st!


Virgin.

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