Hocus Pocus (film): Wikis


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Hocus Pocus

Theatrical poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Kenny Ortega
Produced by Steven Haft
David Kirschner
Written by David Kirschner (story)
Mick Garris
Neil Cuthbert (screenplay)
Starring Omri Katz
Jason Marsden
Sean Murray
Bette Midler
Sarah Jessica Parker
Kathy Najimy
Thora Birch
Vinessa Shaw
Jodie Rivera
Larry Bagby
Doug Jones
Music by John Debney
James Horner
Cinematography Hiro Narita
Editing by Peter E. Berger
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) July 16, 1993 (1993-07-16)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million
Gross revenue $39,514,713 (United States)

Hocus Pocus is a children's 1993 Halloween-themed fantasy film released by Disney, and directed by Kenny Ortega. The movie started life as a script for a special original movie for the Disney Channel, to be produced by one of the smaller studios owned by The Walt Disney Company, but the script caught the eye of Walt Disney Studios who decided that the film was strong enough to carry well-known names and to attract a cinema audience. The film has (as pointed out by most critics) a strange virgin concept stung along thoughout the movie. The movie was released in the United States and Canada in July 1993. It was released in October 1994 across Australia and most of Europe and some Asian countries. The idea to cast Bette Midler was partly inspired by Midler's Golden Globe-nominated performance in a milestone motion picture for the Walt Disney Company on its Touchstone Pictures line, Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

Hocus Pocus initially opened in theaters to abysmal reviews, yet performed reasonably well at the box office. The film became popular on VHS and repeated airings on Disney Channel and ABC Family (as 13 Nights of Halloween).



The movie opens in 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts where three witch sisters — Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy) — lure a young girl named Emily Binx (Jodie Rivera) to their house in the woods, where they prepare to drain the girl's lifeforce to regain their youth. Her brother Thackery Binx (Sean Murray) sees her heading out and tells his friend Elijah (Steve Voboril) to wake his father and summon the town elders. He attempts to rescue her, but he is caught by the witches and forced to watch as they drain Emily's lifeforce, killing her in the process. As the witches are about to do the same to Binx, he angrily calls Winifred a hag declaring that there are not enough children in the world to make her beautiful. This prompts a livid Winifred and her sisters to instead turn him into an immortal black cat capable of speech, punishing him for the insult by forcing him "not to die, but to live forever with his guilt". Not long after this occurs, the witches are caught by the town elders including Binx's grieving father (Norbert Weisser). With the Sanderson Sisters prisoners in the town square, Thackery's father demands to know what they did to his son. Winifred denies all knowledge of him. Before the Sanderson sisters are hanged by the Salem townsfolk, they use the confiscated spellbook to cast a curse which would raise the three of them from the dead if and when a virgin lights the Black-Flamed Candle in the witches' home. Unable to return to his family, Binx dedicated his immortal life to guarding the Sanderson home so this curse could not come to light.

Three hundred years later, in 1993, a teenage boy from Los Angeles named Max (Omri Katz) moves to Salem with his parents (Stephanie Faracy and Charles Rocket) and younger sister Dani (Thora Birch). Max falls for a girl named Allison (Vinessa Shaw) who has good knowledge of the history of the Sanderson sisters as her mother owned the museum erected upon the site where their house used to stand. When going home through the cemetery, he runs into some tough kids named Jay (Tobias Jelinek) and Ernie "Ice" (Larry Bagby) who end up stealing his shoes.

On Halloween, Max, Dani and Allison visit the old house of the witches which has since become a museum where Thackary Binx's cat form still lurks. Max lights the Black-Flamed Candle which summons powerful magic to raise the three witches from the dead. The three witches attempt to absorb Dani's lifeforce. Max fools them into taking cover from the "burning rain of death" by turning on the house's sprinkler system with a cigarette lighter and then steals Winifred's spellbook per advice from Thackary Binx (voiced by Jason Marsden).

The children and Binx retreat to a graveyard where Binx explains his past. The witches appear on broomsticks and summon forth Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones), an undead lover of Winifred who had an affair with her sister Sarah and was poisoned, his mouth also sewn shut. Billy chases the children through some old sewers and up into Salem's streets. The witches explore the new world, acknowledging they only have until sunrise to absorb the lifeforces out of children or they will die again. They ride on a bus until they wander into a street packed with children celebrating Halloween. They briefly visit a man dressed as the Devil (Garry Marshall) but are chased out by his wife who they mistake for Medusa (Penny Marshall). Both parties end up in a dance hall where Max tries to warn the parents of the children about the witches, but Winifred makes it appear as though he was introducing them in a performance and she and her sisters take the stage, perform their own rendition of I Put a Spell on You and then enchants all of the adults present, including Max's parents, to dance until they die, literally.

The witches are trapped in a kiln at a high school by the children and seemingly burn to death, but they escape. Upon being insulted by Jay and Ice, they end up taking them prisoners and return to their home to accept their fate.

Max and Allison open the spellbook to find a way to turn Binx back into a human, but this allows the book to send a signal that the witches then track to Max's house. Once there, they kidnap Dani and Binx and steal the book, returning once again to their old house. Sarah uses her singing voice to enchant the town's children to come to their house as well.

Max and Allison save Dani and Binx and escape again. With victory almost in the grasp, the witches seem close to triumph, but Winifred vengefully chases after the children. At the graveyard, the children encounter Billy who manages to talk by cutting open his mouth and allies with the children. The witches appear and fight with the children and Billy. Dani is captured again but Max drinks a formula used to suck lifeforces out of children, offering himself in his sister's place. Winifred agrees and tries to suck out his soul, but as she stands on the hallowed ground of the cemetery due to Max managing to knock her off her broom with Binx's help, she turns to stone. As this is happening the sun rises, turning Sarah, Mary, and the stone Winifred to dust. This also undoes the curse that made Binx immortal and he dies as well. Billy then returns to his grave. Binx (once again in his human form) is free to move on to the afterlife with his sister Emily as Max, Dani, and Allison look on.

As the credits start rolling, Max's parents and the other party attendees are leaving the school while "Ice" and Jay are still trapped in the Sanderson Sisters' house where the spellbook still sits, and its eye opens.


Edgar Allan Poe song

The hypnotic lullaby that Sarah Sanderson sings to lure the children is composed of a part of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe called "Come Little Children." The only difference in the song is that the line that Sarah sings, "here in my garden of magic," is actually written "here in my garden of shadows" by Poe.

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