Hocus Pocus: A Look at the Popular Film 25 Years Later

Every Halloween season, Freeform plays the same cult classic film almost every day in October to the point where everyone can quote the movie from beginning to end. That film is Hocus Pocus.

But why a film that initially bombed during its release in 1993 become popular 25 years later? Let’s examine.

The Plot

On October 31st, 1693, Thackery Binks (Sean Murray) sees his little sister Emily running off to the woods into a cottage housed by three witches, The Sanderson Sisters.

Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) are old witches on the brink of death, so they suck the life out of Emily to keep themselves alive and to make themselves younger again.

Thackery tries to save his sister but ends up being beaten by the Sanderson’s who turn him into a black cat to live the rest of his life with the guilt of not saving his sister.

Thackery’s father and the townsfolk capture the witches and, before being hanged, Winifred cast a spell from her spellbook that will resurrect the witches should a virgin light the Black Flame Candle during a full moon on All Hallows Eve.

300 years later, Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is living a life of teenage angst after moving from Los Angeles to Salem.

That night, Max takes his sister Dani (Thora Birch) trick-or-treating and find themselves at the house of Max’s crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw) who tells the siblings that her family owns the cottage the Sanderson sisters lived.

In an attempt to impress Allison, Max and Dani go to the cottage with Allison where Max lights the Black Flame Candle. The Sanderson Sisters are summoned and continue their mission to suck the life out of every child, starting with Dani who claims to be the one who brought the witches back. When the witches try to attack Dani, Max and Allison come to the rescue by beating up the witches.

Max sets off the sprinkler system to distract the witches and takes off with Winifred’s spellbook. He slips on the water and falls until Thackery gets him up. The gang runs to a cemetery where Winifred raises her former lover Billy from the dead to chase after them.

The sisters are at a disadvantage trying to navigate themselves through 20th century times. They are horrified to see that Halloween has become nothing more than a holiday. The sisters only have until sunrise to suck the life out of a child, or they will turn to dust.

Max, Dani, and Allison are also at a disadvantage as no one believes their story of three witches chasing after them. They try to get a cop to help them, but it was just a man dressing up as a cop.

The gang tries to convince Max and Dani’s parents to help while the parents are out at a Halloween party, but the Sanderson sisters find them and entrance the audience (who think that the Sanderson’s are just entertainers after a rendition of “I Put A Spell On You”) to dance until they die.

The witches follow the children to the local high school where they burn the sisters alive in a kiln. Max, Dani, Allison, and Thackery celebrate but do not know that the curse revived the sisters.

Next, Max and Allison open the spellbook which leads the Sanderson’s to Max’s house where they kidnap Dani and Thackery, taking them to their cottage.

Then Max heads back to the cottage to rescue Dani and Thackery and knocks out the cauldron that holds the potion to suck the life out of the children of Salem, who were all hypnotized by Sarah’s siren-like lullaby. However, there was still a little bit of potion left to suck the life out of one child, and Winifred is determined that child is Dani.

The witches chase after the gang into the cemetery who again run into Billy.

Billy rips off his stitched mouth to insult Winifred and fights off the Sanderson’s to protect Dani.

Winifred captures Dani to suck the life out of her, but Thackery attacks Winifred to knock the potion out of her hands and into Max’s. Max drinks the potion, thus saving Dani, but putting himself at risk.

Winifred gets a hold of Max, and just as she was about to finish him off, the sun rises, and the Sanderson Sisters disintegrate into dust.

Billy returns to his grave and Thackery’s soul is finally free. Thackery thanks the trio of Max, Dani, and Allison for saving him before taking off with his sister Emily.

All is right in Salem again, until we see that Winifred’s spellbook opening its eye, implying that the Sanderson sisters may strike back.


After it’s initial release in 1993, Hocus Pocus received mixed reviews. Over time, the film has since become a Halloween classic. There are many factors as to why Hocus Pocus became famous 25 years later and not in 1993.

Freeform, previously ABC Family, has shown Hocus Pocus during the programs Halloween block 13 Nights of Halloween (now 31 Nights of Halloween). Freeform even shows Hocus Pocus all day on Halloween. In 2018, Hocus Pocus has averaged 8.2 million viewers on Freeform.

Disney World is another factor in the success of Hocus Pocus. 

In 2015, Magic Kingdom introduced the Hocus Pocus Villian Spectacular as apart of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The show presents new actresses to play the Sanderson Sisters who try to make a villain party to attract various Disney villains.

In Salem, where Hocus Pocus takes place, the town has become a tourist site for fans of the movie. This year, during Salum’s annual Halloween parade, they dedicate the theme to Hocus Pocus in honor if it’s 25th anniversary.

Over time. Hocus Pocus went from “mediocre Halloween film” to a classic that everyone loves and looks forward to watching once Halloween season rolls around. It gives it’s audience a sense of holiday joy, much like anyone’s favorite Christmas movie would provide.

Hocus Pocus has undoubtedly put a spell on Halloween lovers. It is a film that will go down as a Halloween favorite for years to come.

What do you think of Hocus Pocus? Do you think it deserves the love it gets? Leave your comments down below!

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