Hocus Pocus (1993)
Director: Kenny Ortega
Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw
A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century. – IMDB
Hocus Pocus was quite the popular Halloween family film back when I was a kid since it used to be on a TV quite a bit. I’ve always thought it was the case however based on Wikipedia, Hocus Pocus actually is a cult classic and garnered its popularity through these annual television circulation. Its been well over a decade that I’ve revisited Hocus Pocus at the very least so its more to see whether the film still holds the same charm that it had when I was younger at this point.
Hocus Pocus is a pretty fun adventure family movie. New kids in town trying to fit in, brother and sister, Halloween and costumes, waking up wicked witches and some musical elements, there’s a lot of things that work in favor for this type of film. It might not be some big box entertainment but for the fun little adventure nights it does do the trick as it can relate very well as a family film. Plus it even adds in a talking black cat. Of course, this probably isn’t suitable for very young kids considering there is a man that raises from the dead and despite its comedic moments of losing its head and such, it still might seem fairly creepy to the very little ones.
The Sanderson Sisters played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are the definite highlights of the film aling with Binx The Talking Black Cat. The witches are the really charming part of the film in general. Looking at a young Thora Birch as Dani, the young sister and Omri Katz as older brother Max, they have a decent sibling relationship but the acting really wasn’t that good.
Hocus Pocus is a 90s movie so while it might not have aged very well in terms of dialogue and digital effects but there are a lot of things here that are more practical or make-up so it actually doesn’t few too campy or silly. The only thing here is that while nostalgia plays a big factor here, it feels like I have slightly outgrown the film. The film structure is decent though as it may feel like its one thing and then takes a little twist which makes it pretty fun.
Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, Froy Gutierrez, Sam Richardson, Doug Jones, Tony Hale
Two young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world. – IMDB
As much as I did love Hocus Pocus as a child, its been almost 30 years since the first visit and feels pretty unnecessary to do a sequel at this point but Disney being what it is of course headed down that route to reap the benefits of the now cult classic. While the younger cast is completely new, they did manage to get the Sanderson Sisters to return which is great since they were quite the highlight in the original film. Hocus Pocus 2 takes the obvious route of bringing them into the modern day with the new cast taking advantage of the technology and modern trinkets to fool the witches. What does a good job is also remembering while scripting that while technology might be an unknown for them and can be used against them, it sometimes still works in their favor.
The return of the Sanderson Sisters with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy reprising their roles is pretty nice. For one, it feels like they haven’t really aged that much despite the fact that Bette Midler is now already in her seventies in real life. The film dives into their younger selves as to how the Sanderson sisters took the route of becoming witches and having some young actors playing their roles. Those parts do feel the weaker portion of the film as the kids basically kept to the personality and signature moves of the characters themselves but the part did loop back to become a useful part for the finale. In some ways, the film exists to give some sort of resolution to the whole storyline. The charm of the Sanderson Sisters has always been that they are the villains but there are still a wicked but clumsy side to their existence where they do have their own weaknesses as well.
The new additions here are the young cast playing the friends who wake up the witches and have the night to save it. To be fair, the roles still work pretty well. Perhaps the character trajectory feels a little more silly as they play around with witchcraft themselves to try to stop the whole thing from happening. The emphasis of the girls involved is a highlight to their own friendship which perhaps reflects a little to the good counterparts of the Sanderson Sisters themselves. Like teenagers, these friends have a lot more hurdles when it comes to dealing with parents and friends, etc. They also end up meeting another reprised role from the first film which clears up something from the first film with the dead boyfriend raised from the grave Billy Butcherson who is still played by Doug Jones, a man who has been in so many disguised roles.
Let’s be honest here and say that I had very low expectations for this sequel. It dials down to being made too long from its first film and seemingly stretching out a premise that doesn’t need to be done. While some of the script feels a little silly at times, there are some clever bits played in with the technology as well as the Sanderson Sisters being reprised so still delivering that charm. It even manages to wrap up the film with a nice heartwarming bowtie which I thought was a pretty nice touch.