“Hocus Pocus” is probably the most memorable of the Halloween movies I watched while I was growing up. There are so many aspects of this film that make it stand out from others, some of which include its timeless humor and its depth. I loved this movie as a kid and I will continue to love this Halloween classic for the rest of my life.
This movie is about a broken curse which brings back three witches on Halloween. The legend of the Sanderson Sisters of Salem, Massachusetts states that the witches will return when the black flame candle is lit by a virgin during a full moon.
On Halloween night in 1993, Max Dennison, a high school boy who has recently moved to Salem, lights this candle while he is goofing off at the old Sanderson museum, which he snuck into with his younger sister and a girl from his school.
Being a centuries old myth, nobody believes the three children when they try to warn against the returned evil. It is thus up to Max, his sister and the girl from his school to stop the witches before they work their dark magic.
The humor of this movie is golden and derives mostly from the Sanderson sisters. They are goofy and evil, but the evil part is mostly overshadowed by the goofy part.
By this I mean there is a scene where Max and friends are trying to trick the sisters so they can take back Dani, who had recently been taken by them. In order to trick the sisters into thinking dawn had arrived and their time on earth had ended, they use the headlights of a car to imitate the sun rising.
If the sisters were rational and had taken a second to think about it, they would have sensed the trick. But, alas, they are dimwitted fools who act like they are being killed, and they fall to the floor in a comedic fashion.
Another instance of the comedic gold that is the iconic Sanderson sisters includes the scene in which they sing “I Put A Spell On You” at the town hall party, where all of the adults in Salem are in attendance. To say that this cover of the song is amazing would be an understatement. In fact, the whole scene deserves an Oscar.
On a more serious note, this movie is also a bit bittersweet. For instance, the whole storyline for Banks stems from serious tragedy. Before the sisters had been killed in the first place, Thackery Banks lost his sister to their powers.
Thackery Banks tries to save his sister from the sisters’ cruel intentions, but fails to save his sister, and then also fails to save himself. The sisters choose to punish Thackery Banks by making him live forever as a black cat, thus creating Banks, a character who is crucial in helping Max and the others put an end to the witches.
I cannot name an aspect of this movie that I truly hated, but if I had to name a “flaw” I would have to go with the way Max brings back the Sanderson sisters. Max is a foolish boy, one who refuses to believe in the myth of the sisters. But his true stubborn intentions are meant to impress a girl.
I understand that horror movies use the foolish nature of humans to make bad things worse, but when you have two people telling you not to light a candle for fear of bringing back evil, listen to them.
I look past this (need I remind you) foolish mistake, because I love everything else about this movie. This is a kids movie that is also not a kids movie.
Sure, it has aspects of a family film, but at its heart it could be considered part of the horror genre. The Sanderson sisters literally steal their youth from children, sucking the life out of them. They also raise a zombie from the ground to try to catch Max and the others, not to mention this zombie had his mouth sewn shut because he flirted with Winifred’s sister.
I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars because I love this movie. I will say that again, I LOVE this movie.
From the relatableness of Dani screaming for her parents because her older brother refuses to take her trick-or-treating, to the utter ridiculousness of the Sanderson sisters believing a man in a Halloween costume is the Devil, this movie is the absolute epitome of a timeless classic.