Review Rewind – Hocus Pocus (1993)

Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, lead witch, in Hocus Pocus (1993)

Release Date: July 16, 1993

Director: Kenny Ortega

Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy

Synopsis: On one Halloween night in Salem, Oregon, a tale of long ago comes to life as The Sanderson Sisters resurrect to continue their ploy for eternal life.

Rating: 3.5/4 Stars

I was four years old by the time Hocus Pocus released in theaters. Riding off the high of one of the more incredible summers of my life at the theater thanks to Jurassic Park, I had no concrete recollection of the film that I would only remember as that fun Halloween movie on the Disney Channel. Fast forward over 25 years later, the phenomenon that is Hocus Pocus continues to spark fervor and joy among fans of the film, both old and young. As I sat to watch the movie again, I wondered how my memory would serve me. I’m pleased to say that Hocus Pocus remains an incredibly fun and charming film despite some of its narrative shortcomings.

The story is simple: a centuries old legend comes to life as a group of wild and wacky witches are resurrected from the dead. Without missing a beat, their pursuit to suck the life and souls out of little children by sunrise remains their top priority. Geez. What could have been relegated to pure horror is instead infused with enough light-hearted charm, comedy, and charisma to keep you entertained and focused on its colorful characters.

The Sanderson Sisters: (left to right) Kathy Najimy as Mary, Bette Midler as Winifred, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah in Hocus Pocus (1993)

Played with such verbose and animation to challenge the most dramatic of divas, Midler relishes in her devilish role as the alpha witch of the pact while both Parker and Najimy playfully act coy and naive in their supportive roles. It’s no surprise that their flair and personality are mimicked to this day with costume and make-up begging for imitation. They are queens with no need for kings, and their constant bickering and feuding makes way for some of the more comical, slap-stick and quote-worthy moments fans continue to recall with endearment. And who can forget Binx, the resident talking black cat, and Billy Butcherson, the bumbling zombie with moves like Jack Sparrow? And what about the children at the heart of the film who have the right amount of angst and hijinks to keep our attention and investment going from start to finish? There’s plenty of favorites to go around and choose from in a film peppered with memorable personalities.

Thora Birch as Dani, Omri Katz as Max, and Vinessa Shaw as Allison in Hocus Pocus (1993)

Written with sharp and witty dialog, hilarity and adventure are in store for those willing to let loose with a crew of larger than life witches and characters who elevate Hocus Pocus to greater heights. It’s pretty difficult to have a bad time with The Sanderson Sisters and the gang. The way I would describe this film is like heading into a club where everyone is having a mischievously good time, no expenses spared. If you find yourself on edge, irritated, or just straight up not having a good time, this may not be the place for you; just don’t spoil the fun for everyone else. Hocus Pocus is and remains a Halloween extravaganza of the most entertaining kind that will put a spell on you and leave you enchanted for years to come.

Hocus Pocus is rated PG for some scary sequences, and for language.

Hi! My name is Tyler Pacholski. I enjoy writing and storytelling through visual mediums, most notably film. Join me in engaging thought and dialog surrounding any and all things film.

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