94 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2001
This movie is criminally underrated. First of all, the film wasn't the flop people think it is. It did over 45 million at the box office. Okay, that settled, let's dig in. Three witches from the 1800's are hung for taking the souls out of children in Salem, Mass. Present day Salem, a lonely teen resurrects the three hags accidentally while visiting their old cottage that has turned into a mini museum. The witches, well cast and perfectly played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, set out on Halloween night to take the souls from the children as they trick or treat. The three lead actresses are perfect in their roles. They really bring them to life. This is a fun, light hearted film that the whole family can enjoy. The setting and decoration is perfect and has that great Halloweeny feel. There's also a funny cameo by Penny Marshall and Garry Marshall as husband and wife(but who are real life brother and sister in case you didn't know). This is a real great vehicle for Bette Midler. She fits perfectly. You'll also recognize Thora Birch(American Beauty)as the little sister. The film is a wonderful family treat that will delight and entertain the whole family.
143 of 161 people found the following review helpful
In the 1600s, the Sanderson sisters bewitched people. The three aging women, lusty Sarah, portly Mary, and sinister leader Winifred, were particularly fond of performing a certain spell that would keep them alive and young forever, with repeat use of course. Unfortunately, that particular spell required a living child as the key ingredient! One fateful Halloween night, that unpleasant honor went to adorable little Emily Binx, sister of teenaged Thackery, who immediately ran to his sibling's aid when he heard she'd been lured by Sarah Sanderson to the witches' home in the woods. This was not a well thought out plan though, and the cost was not only the life of his sister Emily, but his own humanity as well. Emily's lifeforce was drained from her body by the three Sanderson witches, and big-brother Thackery Binx was transformed into an immortal black cat, cursed to live forever with the guilt of his failure to save his sister! Luckily for the rest of the children of Salem, the Sanderson sisters were captured that night and hung for their crimes, but not before their living book of spells revealed to them a curse to bring the three back from the dead on All Hallow's Eve when a virgin lights the black flame candle.
300 years later, teenager Max Dennison is a newcomer to Salem, struggling to adjust after growing up in a California lifestyle. It isn't going well for Max. Bullies are stealing his sneakers right off his feet, the girl of his dreams snubs him due to his lack of interest in Halloween, and his little sister, Dani, is ever the pest. Now, he must spend the evening escorting her door to door for trick or treating while their parents enjoy the town Halloween dance. Things are about to go from bad to worse for Max, however. Just when he believes things are looking up after he and Dani convince dream-girl Allison to take them to the old Sanderson house, Max's efforts to impress the girl lead him to light the black-flame candle himself, bringing Sarah, Mary, and Winifred Sanderson back from the dead! From there on out, it's a non-stop, fun-filled chase as the witches pursue the children, determined to make sassy-mouthed Dani the subject of their next youth spell, which must be performed before dawn or else the witches will be gone forever! With the immortal, talking black cat Binx guiding them along, Max, Dani, and Allison work together to outrun, outwit, and outlast the evil trio and their magical arsenal, with the fate of all the children of Salem hanging in the balance!
In "Hocus Pocus," director Kenny Ortega, who also gave us the equally underrated and enjoyable cult-classic "Newsies," brings us a perfect Halloween movie that's actually great fun any time of year! With a fantastic cast headed up by the legendary Bette Midler and "Eerie Indiana's" Omri Katz, awesome music (Hey, Disney, where's the soundtrack?!), a hilarious script that incorporates all the Halloween essentials, and brilliant special effects, "Hocus Pocus" easily ranks as one of my favorite films of all-time! Moments such as the bus ride, the encounter with the motorcycle cop, the visit to the Master's house, and, of course, the Sanderson sisters performing "I Put a Spell On You" at the town party just make this movie fun, fun, fun! The witches may be creepy at times and totally dangerous, but they have a Three Stooges vibe going throughout that keeps things from getting too scary. However, this film CAN be a bit much for younger kids. Yes, despite feeling generally like a typical Disney live-action flick from the `90s (a great time for Disney live-action), there are some surprising moments. The witches do off little Emily in the beginning of the film by stealing her "essence," they do use some mild swearing and the virgin joke is unnecessarily hammered into the ground, and, yeah, some folks might find certain aspects scary, but only the very young I'd wager. Basically, this film was targeted at `tweens and teens, and, had they gone to see it, it would probably have been a hit. Unfortunately, it wasn't till repeat airings on the Disney Channel that most people discovered this gem of a holiday film. As for me, I saw it in theaters and am so glad I did! I wish we'd get more Halloween films like this one! This is how I like to see witches on Halloween! Cackling, riding brooms across the sky, and hunting trick or treaters! That's the concept of Halloween witches that scared me as a kid, and that's what I'd like to see more of in Halloween films today! The DVD is sadly bare-bones. Totally disappointing for such a spectacular cult classic! Still, it is without a doubt a must own for annual viewings at the very least!
For more must watch Halloween viewing, check out "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "Sleepy Hollow," "Ichabod and Mr. Toad," the original "The Worst Witch," "Garfield Holiday Celebrations," the Casper, Addams Family, and Harry Potter films, "Return to Oz," "Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile," "The Night Dracula Saved the World," "The Monster Squad," "Ernest Scared Stupid," "The Witches," "Mad Monster Party," "Spaced Invaders," "Love At First Bite," "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," and see my Halloween listmania lists for more! Also, for more great `90s Disney live-action films, check out the Mighty Ducks film series, "The Adventures of Huck Finn," "Dick Tracy," "Cool Runnings," "Newsies," "Tom and Huck," the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" films, "101 Dalmatians," "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book," "The Santa Clause," "Tom and Huck," "White Fang," "Heavyweights," "The Rocketeer," "Three Musketeers," "Iron Will," and more! But don't forget about classic Disney live-action either, or their great `80's stuff, like my number one favorite film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit!" With great new stuff like "Herbie: Fully Loaded," "Holes," "Pirates of the Caribbean," and the upcoming "Chronicles of Narnia," it seems that Disney live-action is still going strong!
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2003
I'm a 16 yr old who still watches Disney(So sue me, I hate MTV and the Pop rage). I never knew this movie was in theatres until I read these reviews! I just finished watching Hocus Pocus on TV tonight and thought I'd look it up on Amazon to see if it were on DVD/VHS. This movie is a classic, and I watch it every time it comes on. I have the soundtrack, which consists of like 2 songs, on Kazaa Media. It's the greatest halloween movie of the 90s for kids, and even teenagers, because I know alot of kids at school like it as well. Hope this review will help someone out! I would recommend this movie to anyone-my dad says it's one of the few things SJP did that was decent acting, lol!
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2006
I have loved this movie ever since my mom took me to see it in the theater when I was 6 years old. Ever since (even after I was allowed to watch actual scary halloween movies) this has been my very favorite movie to put in the DVD player, pop some popcorn and have fun.
If you are looking for a movie to laugh all the way through or something to watch with the kids I suggest you pick up a copy of this movie. You won't regret it!
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2000
I never understood the negative reviews for Hocus Pocus. We went to the theatre anyway and thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Bette Midler is hammy, yes, but it's Bette! She's playing a beaver-toothed, child chasing 17th century witch in a Disney flick. What else is there but hammy?! Kathy Nijimy, with her Dairy Queen hair and lopsided grin, is a hoot. And Sarah Jessica Parker, the curvaceous, third sister, does Sex In the City...Salem-style! (stictly PG of course!) Thora Birch has yet to reach her brooding, raven-haired American Beauty stage, so she's still adorable! And to top it off, there is Zachary Binx, the talking black cat...an obvious inspiration for Sabrina, the Teenage Witch's Salem! My seven-year-old daughter loves this movie! I finally purchased the video today (we had been holding out for a DVD release) to save myself the video rental fees! If you're not a "serious student of film" and can sit and watch and just enjoy a fun movie...rent Hocus Pocus for a test drive...and then buy it!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
One of my favorite family films ever. I could not wait to get this on blu ray after having it on VHS, Laser Disc, and DVD.
This is, hands down, the BEST this movie has looked or sounded since I saw it in the theater (3 times) when it came out. The colors are vibrant, and give the perfect fall/Halloween look and feel. The sound is superb, along with the clarity of the film.
That being said, WHY does Disney insist on giving NO BONUS FEATURES on some of its most beloved live-action theatrical films when they come to blu ray, but they will load up the crud like the direct to video "Tinkerbell" stuff, or the never-ending "Air Buddy" sequels??? I know for a fact that there are trailers and "making-of" documentaries out there for "Hocus Pocus" because I used to have them on a VHS tape. I worked in a video store when the movie first came to VHS, and we got in a screener copy from Buena Vista which had a behind the scenes featurette (about 15 min long, if I remember correctly) and it had the trailer. Why can Disney not put these things on the blu ray?
Anyway, 4 stars overall because the film is a favorite, and it DOES look and sound terrific. Just wish they'd put a little effort into some bonus content.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2001
I looooove HOCUS POCUS! This is the best flick you could possibly find for a Halloween night. It's humorous and lighthearted, and can be pretty scary for kids under the age of 8. I'm 17 years old, and I still think HOCUS POCUS is the best Halloween flick. This movie is basically about the three Sanderson witch sistes who lived long ago in the 1600s during the Salem Witch Trials, in Massachusetts. Winifred, Sarah, and Mary want to make themselves look younger and more beautiful. So in the beginning, they create a spell that will suck the lives out of children who are more beautiful then they are and then they will receive all that beauty and youthfulness. Anyway, Thackery Binks is a young boy who lived during the time of the Sanderson witches. One morning when his kid sister, Emily Binks, runs off, he realizes that she's being hypnotized by the Sanderson sisters to go to their home in the middle of the woods so they can take her life. Thackery races off to rescue his sister, only to find that he is too late. The Sanderson sisters find Thackery in their house and attack him, turning him into a black cat forever, unless someone can break the spell. That night, the Sanderson sisters are found by the townspeople and are hanged for killing Thackery. The Sanderson sisters promise the townspeople that they will come back to life when someone lights the black candle in their home. Then 300 years go by and it is the present day. Max is a young teenage boy who moves with his family to Salem, Massachusetts from Los Angeles, California. On Halloween, his teacher tells his class the story on the Sanderson sisters, like she always does every year. Max, being new in town, doesn't believe the story of the three witches. Allison, a girl in his class whom he has a crush on, tells Max that the story is true, even though Max still doesn't really believe her. On Halloween night, when Max takes his little sister Dani out trick-or-treating, they end up going to this large house which happens to be the home of Allison. When he sees Allison, Max suggests to Allison and Dani that they all go to the Sanderson witches home - which has been turned into a museum - to see if the story his teacher told them really was true. Dani believes the story and doesn't want to go. But Allison agrees to it and then Dani, who has to go since their parents are at a Halloween party, agrees to go. They get to the home of the Sanderson sisters and find Thackery, who is still a black cat. Thackery tells them about the Sanderson sisters and Max, who still wants to prove that he is right that the witches don't exist, lights the black candle, bringing the Sanderson sisters back to life. Now, Max, Allison, and Dani are on a wild and hilarious chase to catch and destroy the Sanderson sisters before it is too late (which would be at dawn the next morning) and before the Sanderson sisters can suck the lives out of all the children in town. Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker are excellent in this film, so are Omri Katz (who plays Max), Kathy Namijy, Vinessa Shaw, and a very young Thora Birch. I recommend this movie to anyone who loves Halloween!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2000
This is one movie the entire family will sure to love. There's something for everybody: comedy, horror, romance, drama....etc. Anyway, Hocus Pocus is about 3 witch sisters from the 1600s during the Salem Witch Trial days. After sucking the life out of Emily, Thackery's beautiful kid sister, Thackery finds the home of the 3 witches in the woods (this is in the 1600s, of course) and the 3 witches (Winifred Sanderson, Sarah, and Mary) catch Thackery in their house trying to rescue Emily and turn him into a black cat forever. The witch sisters are caught by the townspeople and they hang the sisters for killing Thackery.
300 years later (or, in the present day), a teenage boy named Max, his younger sister, Dani, and their parents move to Salem, Massachusetts from Los Angeles. Max falls in love with this girl in his class named Allison who's very rich. On Halloween, his teacher tells her class the story of the 3 sisters who sucked the lives out of every child to make themselves look younger and beautiful.
Max doesn't believe in the story at first. On Halloween night, he has to take Dani trick-or-treating and they end up going to this large house that happens to be the home of Allison, Max's crush. Dani believes in the story about the 3 witches and when Max suggests going to the house of Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, Dani doesn't want to go 'cause she believes in the story.
To prove that Max thinks he's right, they all go to the house which is in the cemetary. They get there (which had been turned into a meuseum) and find Thackery as the cat. Thackery tells them not to light the black candle (which brings the witches back to life) but Max does, anyway. And of course, the witches do come back to life.
The witches now try to suck the lives out of all the children to make themselves younger. Max, Allison, and Dani have to stop the witches and destroy them before sun rise or else they will suck the lives out of all the children and Thackery will stay a cat forever.
Hocus Pocus is a really funny and good movie. It might not be an Oscar winning material, but it's very entertaining and enjoyable. It's a movie that is good if you just want to kick back and relax. The best time to see this movie is probably on Halloween (at night, of course!) Hocus Pocus is one movie that everyone will surely enjoy! Go and see it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2003
Thsi movie seemed to get a bad rap at the time of its release. I remember numerous people commenting on how stupid it is. However, I think that's unjust. The cast is a riot namely the three witches perfectly played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. The plot revolves around these three witches coming back to life 300 years after being hanged. they then set off to take the lives of every child in Salem so they can live forever. As ludicrous as the plot seems, the three bumbling, wise-cracking and sometimes pitifully stupid witches are so fun on screen, that the plot isn't even really anything to focus on. And of course, Bette gets her chance to sing at an adult Haloween party, when at the same time she's cursing all of them to "dance until they die." I always oddly find myself singing along. This movie is great fun not only on Halloween but year round.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2001
I absolutely LOVE this cute Disney movie, as the Divine Miss M. as the wickedly funny Winnie Sanderson, the witch sister of two other witch sisters, Mary and Sarah (Kathy Najimy and "Sex In The City"'s Sarah Jessica Parker) are resurrected by naive teen (Omri Katz) and his cute little sister (Thora Birch) trying to impress a pretty girl (Vinessa Shaw) who lights a black flame. A little bit of belly laughs, but mostly chuckles. But what makes up for the humor is the hilarious hijinks that ensue when the sisters are resurrected-looking for young children to suck their youth from, so they can live forever. This cute Disney movie has sufficient humor. It also has a little romance, a teeny bit of horror, and genuine warmth are cleverly interwoven in this 93-minute movie. A obvious Halloween favorite. (Don't miss that musical interlude, where the Divine Ms. M sings the funny "I Put A Spell On You." It obviously does put a little spell on you.) You can also see it on HBO and Cinemax. Rated PG for mild language and some scary stuff.