Halloween’s just a week away and all month I’ve been reviewing horror movies here and there, building up to the holiday. Well, in all that gore, blood, and scares I had to find time to review one of my favorite Halloween pastimes, watching Hocus Pocus. This Disney classic pops up on TV almost daily this time of the year and it’s become a staple for October. Sure, it’s flawed and has moments that make you shake your head, but after re-watching this year, I have to say it’s aged much better than I would have imagined.
Max (Omri Katz) is the new kid in Salem, MA. He’s from Los Angeles, is laid back, and doesn’t believe in any of the superstition surrounding the witch legends so popular in the area. Max takes his young sister, Danni (Thora Birch) trick-or-treating, much to his disliking. After visiting the house of the girl he’s got the hots for, Max invites Allison (Vinessa Shaw) to join him and his sister as they visit the abandoned house of the Sanderson Sisters, a trio of witches that terrorizes the town hundreds of years ago. Trying to show he’s brave and masculine and everything she’d want, Max lights a candle that resurrects the sisters and puts the entire town in danger. Wanting to steal the souls of all of Salem’s children (including Dani), Max, Dani, Allison, and a talking cursed cat named Binx must find a way to stop the witches and save the city.
Hocus Pocus is a film that’s packed with all sorts of humor. There are plenty of cheap jokes that are meant specifically for kids but there’s also an entirely different level of humor that only adults would get. From virgin references to sex jokes, the film has plenty of references for the grownups. It’s because of this that I feel the movie has aged as well as it has. Each time you watch it, you’ll get a new joke and as you get older, you’ll discover even more to love. As for the visuals, Hocus Pocus has a couple sequences with special effects and wire-work and even those look half-decent for a movie this cheap made almost twenty years ago. The acting is also pretty good (from the three sisters at least) and it’s easy to see why Bette Midler calls this her favorite movie she’s ever made. She steals the show as the pursed-lipped Winnie and her over-dramatic flair and showmanship makes the character incredibly memorable. Even Sarah Jessica Parker, someone I really hate as an actress, manages to have fun in the role and even bring a tad of sexy to it (shocking, I know).
Hocus Pocus is a must watch come Halloween. It’s one of the few movies you watch around the holiday because it’s truly about Halloween, and not just a horror movie. People always want to get scared come the end of October, but I, for one, like to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday, and very few movies have to actually deal with it. Hocus Pocus is by no means a perfect movie, and as any kid’s flick it has it’s disadvantages, but the movie still delivers plenty of surprises and as I mentioned, as age incredibly well. As fast Disney was with making sequels to their cartoon classics and sending them straight to DVD, I’m really surprised that in the last twenty years we haven’t seen a sequel to Hocus Pocus. It’s a movie with a built-in fan-base and could go all sorts of wonderful and ridiculous ways. I’m sure it’s bound to happen sometime, but in the mean time go and watch (or re-watch) this Halloween classic.
tons of laughs, a solid story, and great acting from the three sisters
Omir Katz (Max) has absolutely no charisma or talent to carry the film and suffers from the seemingly incurable “bad child actor” disease
actually wanting a sequel to a movie for once and not having it