Hocus Pocus: A Totally Serious Movie Review

The wind is blowing crunchy leaves across the streets, there are candles burning low, you’re wearing a sweater, and likely sipping something pumpkin spiced or apple cider-ed.

It’s time to pop in your well-worn VHS tape of that glorious Halloween flick…


Hocus Pocus: A Totally Serious Movie Review

Made in 1993, when we were still sportin’ crop tops, banana clips, thigh-high socks with short skirts, Doc Martins, and flannels worn around our waists, boy bands ruled the world, we said as if on the hour every hour, and we watched this movie.

Let’s revisit the many reasons why we were and are freakin’ obsessed with this rad flick.

Reason #1

Oh, look. Another glorious morning. It makes me sick!

We’re not morning people either, Winnie.

We start out with the tale of a brother and sister, played by Omri Katz and Thora Birch, who collectively have a couple of the best monikers anyone could ever hope for.

Fun fact: Omri never really did any other acting and is a hair stylist in L.A.

Bucket list item #4: Get my hair cut by Omri.

But seriously. Omri and Thora. They’re so cute, I could eat them up.

Which is, coincidentally, what almost happens to them in the movie. But we’re not there yet.

Oh, and I nearly forgot. The movie actually gives a little bit of (Disney-fied) history in the beginning, teaching youngsters everywhere about the dangers of witchcraft. It’s actually kind of scary and traumatizing.

Not that I don’t love it.

So after that prelude, poor Thackery Binx (which, to be clear, is NOT such a cute name) tries to rescue HIS little sister, Emily, from the evil Sanderson sisters next door. Well, across the haunted meadow and through the wicked woods, but practically next door.

Alas, poor Thackery fails in his mission, but he stayed attractive, which when you’re a teenage girl mooning over the boy on your television screen is a win.

Sean Murray. He was every bit the swoony hero.

Don’t get attached, girls, he gets turned into a cat pretty much immediately by the Sanderson sisters. Your hormones will be confused by this. It’s weird being attracted to a cat.

We’ll never forgive Winifred for this.

The sisters (or “sistahs” as Bette calls them) are played by Midler, Sara Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. They are a delight, despite devouring children’s souls to stay young.

Oh yeah, BTW, little Emily doesn’t make it.

She gets her soul sucked out while she’s tied to a chair, ages 100 years in an instant, and dies of old age.

Thanks, Disney. Keepin’ it real family friendly since 1938 when the evil stepmother asks for her kid’s heart in a box.

If it makes you feel any better, the village hangs the witches and you get to watch. Warm fuzzies gone.

Okay, fast-forward 300 years. Max (Katz) is forced by his evil mom to take his little sister, Dani, trick-or-treating. When Mom isn’t encroaching her unrealistic ideals and thrusting her parenting duties to her first born, she’s dressing up like Madonna….. which can be a little traumatic for the youngsters, but not as traumatic as being impaled by her bra while dancing.

While Max is a good big brother, he is understandably annoyed at the whole trick-or-treating shindig, mostly because he had a crappy day already: at school everyone laughed at him for NOT believing in witches (eh?)

Would you care to share your California, laid-back, tie-dyed, point of view?

… and then some thugs stole his shoes.

I love ’90s thugs. They’re the best thugs.

Don’t fret, Ice and Jay get theirs later on.

Trick-or-treating leaves Max and Dani at the home of Alison (Vinessa Shaw), who just so happens to be Max’s crush.

It’s the one night of the year where the spirits of the dead can return to Earth.


Alison has perfectly flat-ironed hair, straight A’s in Occult and Spells 101 at Salem High, and nice yabos.

In a burst of machismo and at the mercy of his love for Alison, Max suggests they all go wander over to the ol’ Sanderson homestead/museum.

On Halloween.

At night.

And while they’re there, they can light a black candle, chant a little, and bring back Winifred, Sarah, and Mary.

‘Tis an excellent plan, children.

Of course, it works and the sistahs arrive in 1993, a little pissed off but mostly cheerful, and still want children to devour so they can be young and beautiful again.

I’m beautiful! Boys will love me!


Sarah is kinda slutty, but we love her anyway.

While Max, Dani, and Alison run off with Winifred’s spell book, which had been housed in the museum all these years,and is, you know, bound with human flesh, the witches begin to wander the town.

Being Halloween, they fit in perfectly.

They run into a little girl dressed as an angel and nearly have collective heart attacks. Incidentally, I have relatives who have the exact same reaction to someone praying for them.

The wandering witches then have a run-in with a bus driver, who confirms their suspicions that men have not evolved in the slightest since the 1700s, and they take over a Halloween party.

Just a normal Saturday night for the Sandersons, really.

I put a spell on you … and now you’re mine.

We’re not sure how they found the time to learn songs from the 1950s, but we’ll chalk it up to witchcraft. It’s the best part of the movie.

They also wander into the home of Gary and Penny Marshall because he’s dressed as Satan and they thought they could rest their pointy toed feet and maybe snack on some baby bones or something.

Things are getting dicey for the children now. No one believes their claims that the witches (that until this minute EVERYONE IN TOWN BELIEVED IN WITH ALL THEIR HEARTS) are back from the dead. Poor souls, they need help.

Cue Binx the cat and Billy, the undead ex-boyfriend of Winifred’s who crawls from his grave with his mouth shewn shut.

I feel like Billy needs his own band once he finds a seam-ripper. Can we make this happen? Who do I call?

The sistahs – well, mostly Winnie, who is frankly the brains of the operation – desperately want their spell book back.

Anyways, poor Binx gets hit by a car and at that point we’re thinking this movie is getting way too sad and scary.

Hey, legal guardians of us child stars, we don’t want to be in this movie anymore after all the dead animals, hanging women, books made with human flesh, and dying children. K? Can we go home?

But it’s okay, Binx is immortal, doomed to wander Salem forever or until the witches are properly dead and gone. Disaster averted.

Eventually, the crew winds up at the school and having learned how to dispose of witches properly in grade school where they read Hansel and Gretel, the children burn the witches alive.


What was this movie even rated anyway??

Well, the witches can’t be killed that easily. While Max is canoodling with Alison, and Dani falls asleep with Binx curled up next to her in what should have been the safety of their own house, the witches arrive once again to strike fear into the hearts of little rugrats everywhere.

Alison figures out a circle of salt will keep one safe, but Dani isn’t so lucky.

While Alison and Max nearly kiss (but not quite because that wouldn’t be CHILD APPROPRIATE IN A KID’S FILM, unlike say, public hangings, books made of skin, and zombies who have had their lips sewn shut), Dani is whisked off by the witches.

You know, I’ve always wanted a child. And now I think I’ll have one… ON TOAST!

Sarah does her part, flying around on a broom singing an eerie song, beckoning children to her…

It’s creepy, not gonna lie. I sing it to keep my kids in line.

Off the wee ones go, in a trance, through the haunted meadow and the wicked woods. It’s going to be kiddie genocide here if Max doesn’t man up.

The sistahs even have Ice and Jay trapped in their old house, but we don’t feel very sorry for them.

Those 1990s thugs. They had it coming.

I smell children

What do children even smell like?

Nutella and Neosporin? Fruit leather and socks?

Anyway, they make up a big batch of their special soul-sucking potion in their handy-dandy InstaPot, and are about to force feed Dani a big spoonful when Max and Alison pull a fast one: they pretend the sun is coming up by shining the headlights of some Blazer they joyrode in on.

It works, but only long enough for them to race to the cemetery. Evidently, witches can’t set foot on hallowed ground or they’ll turn to stone.

When Winnie gets Dani in her clutches yet again, Max becomes the ultimate hero and gobbles up what’s left of the potion. Now she’s forced to take him instead.

Aw, makes us recall Emily. Didn’t think of that, Thackery, did you? You were probably distracted by only getting an hour’s sleep and working on your family’s farm while memorizing the bible and starving off the Black Plague. We get it.

Max, not being a slight little seven year old, but instead practically a man (Alison, take notice!), struggles in Winnie’s grip and the time it takes to consume his soul is just enough: the sun comes up, she topples to the ground, and turns to stone.

Mary and Sarah turn to dust. Or actually green sparkle bursts of witch particles.

The best part of all this is Binx is allowed to be human again.

The worst part is he has to go live with Emily for all of eternity, instead of Dani, who frankly, we prefer.

But still. Happy ending for everyone but the witches.

(Who, if you believe the little wink the book gives us, will be back eventually.)

And that’s it. The best Halloween movie ever made. What other has inspired drinking games, themed parties, and endless paraphernalia? Watch it here.


Hocus Pocus Movie Review