Classics

[Movie Review] Hocus Pocus (1993) ★★★★★

Hocus Pocus puts a whimsical spell on you, full of adventure and spooky fun.


Hocus Pocus is a scary comedy film for the whole family, with witches, a zombie, a talking cat, a curse and it all takes place during Halloween in Salem. It can’t get more Halloween than this. It’s a great story with humor, action, a bit scary and also very entertaining for adults with witty humor. It’s a timeless tale that brings a fantasy adventure to life.


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Plot

In 1963 Thackery Binx’ sister Emily is kidnapped by three sister witches, Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson who want to suck out her life essence so that they stay forever young. When Thackery wants to save his sister, he’s turned into a black cat and Emily doesn’t survive. The villagers catch the witches and hang them on the highest tree. But before they die, Winifred curses them and when the moon is full on Halloween they will rise again and take out their revenge. 

300 Years later, Max Dennison moves with his parents and little sister Dani to Salem. It’s Halloween and at school the teacher tells them the legend of the Sanderson sisters. That night Max’ parent go to a party, while Max has to take Dani out trick or treating. When he meets Allison the pretty girl in his class he wants to impress her and proposes to go and see the Sanderson’s old house. But when he accidentally lights the black candle, the sisters are summoned and want to take revenge and suck up all the life essence of all the children so that they will live again. It’s up to Max, Allison and Dani to stop them and they get help from Binx the talking cat, who has guarded the house for 300 years.


Why you should watch it

Hocus Pocus is a wonderful fantasy comedy with spooky elements that brings some hilarious fun. It’s very well told in a playful and lively way with humor for the whole family. It is fast paced, fluid, and the variation between action, adventure and comedy is excellently balanced out. The practical effects look wonderful, especially Billy is a delight to watch. The set designs and art decoration make the Halloween vibe come to life. Some parts are very funny for kids, while other bits are particularly funny for the adults, with witty humor mainly coming  from the three witches. 

While the story is about three brave, some less than others (Max), kids who end up in a fantastical adventure, the three witches absolutely steal the show. Winifred played by Bette Midler is the oldest sister, the most fierce, the smart one and the leader. She can jolt electricity from her fingers and makes and says the spells and potions. Mary played by Kathy Najimy is the middle sister who can smell kids and is not the brightest in the bunch. Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker is the youngest and the sexy one, who seduces men and is very stupid.

The way they act and are shaped is brilliant and so hysterical. The dynamics between them is very funny and the fact that for them it’s a whole different world is cause for very comical scenes. The black river, or the road is hilarious and the bus ride even more and when they meet their lord the devil, a man in a costume, it results in some very comical scenes. Not to mention the woman with curlers in her hair, who they mistaken for Medusa. And of course, the new broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner as their new rides. 

Billy, Winifred’s ex, buried at the cemetery is summoned back to life as a zombie and is cause for some fun and scary moments that soon take a very funny turn, especially when he cuts the threads that sowed his mouth tight shut. The party where Max’ parent went to, also gets a visit from the witches and Billy, who fit right in and the witches perform a delightful enchanting song ‘I put a spell on you’ that shows once again that parents are totally oblivious to the adventures of the kids and the supernatural witchy mayhem that is going on. It’s a typical eighties and nineties trope that makes the kid’s adventure even more special.

The kid’s adventure is great too. It’s fun, exciting and with some dark humor that can be a bit scary for kids. What’s even more fun, is that Max isn’t the knight in shiny armor, but that his little sister Dani, who is absolutely cute and steals the show once in a while, is a very brave girl as is Allison. It is girl power from both sides, the good side, and the evil witches’ side. But after some pretty scary ordeals, everything ends well. It’s a great mix that looks amazing, radiates the vibe of Halloween and is told with great pace and playfulness and has a lot of twists and witty humor that results in an amazing tale for Halloween. 


My favorite part

I love the three witches. Everything they do and say is just hilarious. And they even have their own little adventures in this new world. I loved this film when I was in high school and it’s still one of my favorite movies to watch during Halloween. It has the whole package and it never gets old. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Fun factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Hocus Pocus is directed by Kenny Ortega and written by David Kirschner, Mick Garris, Neil Cuthbert. It stars Bette Midler (Winifred), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah), Kathy Najimy (Mary), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), Vinessa Shaw (Allison) and Doug Jones (Billy).

Duration: 96 minutes. Music by: John Debney. Cinematography: Hiro Narita. Edited by: Peter E. Berger. Produced by: Steven Haft, David Kirschner. Production company: Touchwood Pacific Partners, Walt Disney Pictures. Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures.


Check the trailer below


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