Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Year 9, Review 17. The 266th review overall.
Hello all, welcome back! For those of who have been following you may remember my last two reviews. To put in kindly, I was a bit disappointed in both of them. I didn’t want my video reviews to be so negative, so I went with a classic that I’m really surprised I’ve never done before. Not only is it a staple of October TV and my childhood, it’s also probably the second best movie that feels like Halloween. I’m of course talking about...
Hocus Pocus (1993) Family Video.
This movie is a classic for a reason. It starts off with a teenager searching for his younger sister and realizing she’s been taken by the Sanderson sisters, three witches trying to suck the life out of her so they can be young and beautiful. The search doesn’t go well for literally any of them. The girl, Emily is killed, the boy, Thackery is turned into a cat and then the three witches are hanged, but not before vowing to come back on All Hallows’ Eve sometime in the future.
Flash forward 300 years and a family has just moved from Los Angeles to Salem, Massachusetts. The oldest, a teenager named Max isn’t doing well. After expressing doubt about his teacher’s history lesson on the three sisters and awkwardly showing up his crush in the middle of class, he runs afoul of two over-the-top bullies who end up mocking him and stealing his shoes. Needless to say he wants to move back and makes sure everyone knows it.
After being forced to take his sister Dani trick-or-treating, he meets up with his crush, Allison. He manages to convince Allison and Dani to visit the old Sanderson house to see what the whole is about. He wants to show off how skeptical he is, so he lights the black flame candle, and because he’s a virgin, the Sanderson sisters come back to life and get right back to their plan of trying to steal children to live forever.
This movie rules. I had always liked it when I was younger, but it absolutely holds up when you’re an adult. Not only that, it’s FUNNIER to me now than it used to be. I remember just enjoying the movie because of the story and the kids fight for survival, but I was wrong. They’re not the best part, or even close to it. The reason it’s so good is 100% because of the Sanderson sisters. Whoever was in charge of casting hit this one out of the park. You have Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Nahjimy. They don’t just chew the scenery, they absolutely devour it and it’s awesome! Midler says this is her favorite movie role she’s ever done, and you can tell she is having a blast overacting with her sisters about everything. There’s just something inherently funny seeing the three of them coming face-to-face with the changes in culture and technology 300 years later.
The rest of the cast is pretty good too, you have the adults who don’t believe the children but eventually get stuck in perpetual dancing after Midler performs her take on the song, “I Put a Spell on You.” There’s also the cat, Thackery Binks, the boy from the beginning, and the always welcome Doug Jones playing a zombie brought back to life by Midler to do her bidding. You see, Billy used to be her beau, but after hooking up with Parker, Midler killed him and cursed him by sewing his mouth shut and other unpleasantness. That’s about it on the list of characters who matter, but that’s all it needs because the story doesn’t really call for anyone else, especially when you have those three antagonists.
What’s not to love? The witches are infinitely entertaining, it’s funnier than you remember, and if you bemoan the lack of horror, there’s even one scene that made jump, and to top it off, Hocus Pocus just feels like Halloween. The leaves have turned, people are bundled and there’s kids trick or treating everywhere. There are a lot of movies that take place on the holiday that seems tacked on for a marketing gimmick, but this one, along with the wonderful Trick r’ Treat couldn’t have been done on a different date.
9 Dr. Chainsaws!