Lorraine: When we decided to cover Halloween movies, I immediately thought of Hocus Pocus. We did not celebrate Halloween in my house growing up, but my sisters and I somehow became obsessed with this movie, and watched it on repeat until my mother figured out that we were tricking our father into renting it.
I might actually love this movie way too much to really snark it. One should always love a movie with Kathy Najimy in it, but that’s another story for a different day.
Sweeney: Posts about things that we can’t really snark are usually my favorites. They may not be fun for anyone else, but they’re super fun for us. Halloween-and-any-other-time-sub-theme: we do what we want. I’m already excited.
Lor: We start the movie in ye olden days. We know this because there are horses outside and the young man on screen has an accent. Olden Boy calls for his sister Emily who is nowhere to be found. He goes outside and we hear a female singing. If I were the type of person who was into embarrassing myself on public forums, I’d admit that I used to sing this little ditty around the house. At this moment I can’t recall Olden Boy’s name, but I can remember this song. (I looked it up. Thackery Binx is his name. HOW DID I FORGET THACKERY BINX?)
Thackery sees pink smoke rising up from the woods, sends a neighbor boy to wake the Negligent Parents in the neighborhood and runs towards the evil doing. Barefoot too, which is a lot of love for your sibling. I mean, I love mine, but I’d probably put some shoes on first is all I’m saying. I’d feel a lot worse about this sentiment if Thackery weren’t currently tripping and falling all over the woods.
He makes it to the Home of Evil Doing and Colored Smoke, and sees his sister inside, surrounded by three, and I’m going to spoiler it for you here, witches. Bette Midler wakes up her spell book, whose beady little eye still creeps me out, though I’m assuming Hagrid would approve. We get some names now, which I’m not entirely sure I’m going to use but Bette is Winnie, Kathy Najimy is Mary and Sarah Jessica Parker is Sarah. So, Mary is making the potion because she’s fat. Seriously, maybe in 1993 they thought we wouldn’t catch this typecasting, but there it is.
Sweeney: Well, obviously her potions will taste better…
Lor: While the ladies finish their potion, Thackery sneaks into the house. Fatty Najimy says she smells a child and Bette Midler is all, “duh. There’s a little girl right there.” They feed the potion to the little girl, when Thackery jumps out. Sarah and Fatty ineptly chase him a bit, but he ends up besting them and pouring out their potion. Bette Midler handles shit and zaps him with, uh, zappy stuff from her hands. I wonder why she didn’t do this in the first place, but I suppose watching her sisters putz around was mildly entertaining.
Sweeney: That sentence kind of sums up her entire character.
Lor: Quite so.
Thackery is forgotten when his little sister starts leaking out her life, and the witches ingest it. They transform. “I am beautiful,” Slutty Jessica Parker says. “Boys will love me!” “We’re young!” Fatty Najimy proclaims, but Bette Midler knows what’s up. “Well… young-er.” Her plan is to eat all the essence ‘o little children she can get her hands on, though wouldn’t this eventually make her a fetus?
The Sanderson Sisters turn their attention back to Thackery and wonder what to do with him. Fatty Najimy suggests barbecuing him. Slutty Jessica Parker says, “hang him up on a hook and let me play with him.” I distinctly remember being very intrigued at eight years old by this suggestion, because what games could she possibly be talking about?
Lor: Winnie gets the final word and decides that he will live forever as a cat. Is this enough excuse to once again bust out my “cats will eat you!” tag?
Sweeney: I’m going to say yes, and say that it means I get to use this gif again even though it’s not actually at all relevant to anything other than my own amusement:
Lor: At that moment, the Negligent Parents of the neighborhood show up now that two children have been witch-mauled. “We are just three kindly old spinster ladies spending a quiet at home,” Fatty Najimy shouts out to the mob. “SUCKING THE LIVES OUT OF LITTLE CHILDREN!” Slutty JP shouts. Unsurprisingly, the next we see them, they are about to be hanged. Winnie announces that on All Hallow’s Eve when the moon is full, a VIRGIN!! will summon them back from the dead, and then they’ll get back to children sucking. That’s the town’s people to be all, “bitch is cray,” and hang them.
A voice over says, “poor Thackery Binx,” and we see it’s a teacher wearing a witch hat and telling the story of the Sanderson Sisters. Everyone is super amused except for one boy wearing tie-dye. I know this will make Sweeney incredibly happy. Also: he’s from California.
Sweeney: No, it does not, because this kid is an asshole. I do not appreciate tie-dye (or California) being associated with assholes. I’m not sure I understand the correlation between filling many buckets with water and dye for general amusement with being so!totally!socially!conscious! that you’re actually just a douche bag, but it’s definitely a thing in popular culture. I’m looking at you, Dawn Schafer. Nobody thinks you’re serious about anything when you wear tie-dye.
Lor: What I meant to say anyways was that I knew Sweeney would hate the fact he was wearing tie-dye.
He says that Halloween was invented by the candy companies. A girl named Allison speaks up, saying that Halloween is based on All Hallow’s Eve and it’s the one night of the year the spirits of the dead return to Earth. The entire class cheers all, “yay!! Spirits of the dead!!!” Because that is pretty exciting stuff. Allison even gets a high five.
Sweeney: I’ll second that high five, Allison.
Lor: Max stands up and hands Allison a piece of paper. “In case Jimi Hendrix shows up tonight,” he smooth operators, “here’s my number.” LOL. If anyone ever used this line on me on Halloween? Panties off. Immediately.
Sweeeney: Are you really?
Lor: Probably not.
Max sees Allison after class and introduces himself. He just moved into town and thinks all the Sanderson Sister stuff is bogus. Allison says, “trick or treat,” and hands him a paper, which we later see is his own number handed back to him. LOL.
Max bikes home and takes a short-cut through a cemetery. He finds two hooligans there, who say things like “tubular,” and it makes me a little gaggy. Also, one of them is named Ice. Wanna know how I know?
At home, Max’s parents lightly inquire after him, though when Mom notices that he isn’t wearing any shoes, Dad suggests that it is some form of protest. STUPENDOUS PARENTING, DAD.
Sweeney: Oh, fictional parents, you and your charming uselessness! Hilarious!
Lor: In his room, MaX gets on his bed and cuddles with a pillow, pretending it’s Allison. “Oh Allison. You’re so soft…” Thankfully, his little sister jumps out of the closet and interrupts this moment before he starts complimenting Pillow Allison’s… feathers? I’m not sure.
Dani announces that he’s taking her trick or treating, because her parents have a party to go to. Max begs off until Dani screams for her mom. It works.
That night, Max is unamused, especially when he comes across Ice and the Gang again. He tries to get Dani to avoid them, but she’s a little sister meaning, nope. She walks over to them and insists that she isn’t scurred, because she’s got her big bro. Ice and the Gang see Max and straight LOL and take all his candy.
Max is angry and yells at Dani to collect her candy and “get out of his life.” She’s devastated, though I think the “collect your candy” part should’ve softened that blow. Because I like candy.
Sweeney: But also, seriously Dani? Such a little shit.
Lor: She starts to cry, causing Max to come over and apologize. Screaming and crying: the weapons of little sisters everywhere. They kiss and make up and enter the next house for candy. It happens to be Allison’s house.
Allison compliments Dani on her costume, and vice versa. Dani says that she’d love to wear something like that but she doesn’t have any, “what do you call them Max? Yabbos? Max likes your yabbos. In fact, he loves them.” Max chokes on his cider and does not in fact punch that little kid in the face. Also, I Googled a present day Thora Birch. Time (or money?) has apparently fixed her yabbos problem. Finally: WHO THE HELL CALLS THEM YABBOS? WTF.
Allison gracefully changes to the subject to witches. Dani says she’s been learning about the Sanderson Sisters, and it just so happens that Allison’s mother used to run the Sanderson museum before it was shut down. Max suggests heading over there and they do.
It isn’t long before Max spots the black flame candle and reads the plaque near it that says that on a full moon, the candle can raise the spirits of the dead by a VIRGIN!! on Halloween night. So, he clearly wants to light the candle. At that moment, a black cat leaps out and tries to eat Max, because that is what cats do. He is undeterred though, proclaiming the whole thing “Hocus Pocus.” I love when we get the title as a line. It’s never not clunky. And amazing.
Max lights the candle. Suddenly, it gets gusty indoors, all the lights go out, and the floorboards start shaking. When it all settles, Max asks what happened and Danie replies, “a VIRGIN!! lit the candle.” Wait, wuh? Did he forget he was a virgin when he was lighting it? Is he all now, “oh, right, right. I was alone that one night. That was just my hand…”
Perhaps now would be the best time to mention that way back in ’93(ish) this movie made me a little obsessed with the concept of virgins. In my defense, HOW COULD IT NOT?
Sweeney: Virgins are apparently super magical! Hold onto that v-card kids, because it’s the key to all your magical sorcerer powers! Also, believing this will help you hold onto it.
Lor: So, the Sanderson sisters show up at the door, all happy to be alive and stuff. They wonder who lit the candle. Thankfully Fatty Najimy is still a fatty and can sniff out succulent children. She finds Dani and Slutty JP once again suggest playing with her. I am disturbed. Before the Sisters can dump Dani in a cauldron, Max pops out and tries to defend her but ends up getting zapped by Bette Midler.
After a little melee, Max thinks on his feet and sets off the sprinkler system, calling it “the burning rain of death.” The kids are able to escape the house but not before Binx the cat talks to Max and tells him to get the spell book. Max doesn’t immediately listen, so Binx kitty-pimp-slaps him and it is awesome. I tried to find a gif for you all, but there are a lot of “original” people who have named their cats Binx, and I can only handle so many pages of cat pictures. Use your imaginations.
Winnie figures out that the burning rain of death is just water. The Sisters try to set off after the kids, but are distracted by things like roads and an ambulance.
The kdis reach the cemetery, aka hallowed ground. Binx shows them the grave of Winnie’s ex-lover, whom she caught creepin’ with Slutty JP. She poisoned him and sewed his mouth shut in retaliation, and I’m surprised there isn’t already a catchy R&B song based on this. I can only offer in consolation Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Up Style. This one is for you, Winifred Sanderson.
Back at the cemetery, Binx is telling the story of his sister, and how he’s used his immortality to guard the house against “airhead VIRGINS!!!” on Halloween. The Sisters show up on brooms and a chase ensues. Since they can’t land on the hallowed ground, Winnie calls forth her long dead ex-lover, because even though she’s forgotten how to brew the potion, and needs the book for that, she remembers the “call forth your long dead ex-lover from the grave” spell perfectly.
Ex-Lover rises up. He also looks back at his gravestone and gives a hilarious “harumph,” which would probably be my reaction if I were called forth from my eternal slumber. Winnie sends Ex-Lover after the kids.
Some stuff happens here with the witches but the highlights are Slutty JP inexplicably hanging from a fence in the background as Winnie and Fatty talk in the foreground and this gif. SJP’s face sells it:
The Sisters happen to be standing near a bus stop, so a bus stops for them. The skeevy driver is flirty, doesn’t think it’s strange when they say they want to go to children, and offers to give them a lift.
Meanwhile, the kids are navigating some underground tunnel with the Ex-Love in mild pursuit. They make it to under a man hole, and Binx gets out, but here comes the bus the Sisters are on. Slutty JP is in the driver’s lap and she runs over Binx. The kids climb out of the manhole and see a smushed Binx and it’s disturbing. They all lament for like a second before Binx REINFLATES and comes back to life. WTF.
The Sisters get off the bus because Fatty Najimy smells children. They are confused because all they see are kids in costume. Nearby, a man dressed in a devil costume cackles, catching the attention of the Sisters. They cry, “master!” and rush off toward him, bowing and offering themselves up. This man invites them into the house.
The kids spot an officer and don’t know that they are in a movie, meaning that an officer will be useless to them. Max explains that he broke into the Sanderson house and lit the black flame candle. “And he’s a VIRGIN!!!” Dani clarifies, in case we forgot. “Are you a VIRGIN???” the officer asks because we probably needed some further clarification at home.
Not that any of this matter. The cop was just some dude in costume.
Outside of Casa del diablo, three little girls find the Sanderson sister brooms and take off on them. Inside, hijinks ensue as Winnie finds the kitchen and thinks it is a torture chamber. There are many that would agree with her. Fatty watches TV and Slutty dances with the devil. His wife comes downstairs and isn’t happy, so she kicks the Sandersons out, but sends them off with an armful of Clark Bars.
Fatty Najimy: “Sisters look! It is the chocolate covered finger of a man named Clark.” Brilliant.
Winnie has figured out that Halloween is all about the costumes, frolic and running amuck.
I really like Slutty JP. And since the only other movies I’ve seen her in are Sex in the City 2, Failure to Launch and Mars Attacks, I’m going to say this is the best movie Sarah Jessica Parker has ever done.
Lor: Since alerting the cops has failed, the kids decide to find their parents at the party, which is equally lol-worthy.
Dani finds her mom on the dance floor and her recap of the night includes the sentence, “my brother is a VIRGIN!!”
The parentals don’t believe their kids, and what’s worse, the Sandersons have some how ended up at the same party! Max’s brilliant idea is to get up on stage and announce to all the parents not worrying about their children at this moment, that their children are in danger. He points out the Sandersons and says they are back from the grave.
Bette Midler’s just sings every one a song and no one is worried. Not even me, ’cause it’s a fun musical number.
The kid’s next idea is to trap the witches in their school. They lure them into a giant oven, turn it on, and we see the witches go up in flames.
The kids celebrate and head home to sleep. Dani’s cuddles with Binx and Allison cuddles with Max. It’s all heartwarming and lulling you into a false sense of security.
The witches un-go-up-in-flames and leave the school in one piece. They come across Ice and the Gang. Ice says that only the ugly chicks stay out late, which Winnie takes exception to, so she hangs them up in cages back at the Sanderson house. As one does.
At Max’s house, Allison’s feeling bad for Binx. When Max suggests helping him somehow, she figures the spell book can help. She opens it and it sends out a “witches, I be here!” sort of beacon.
The Sisters take off towards it, Winnie on a broom, Slutty on a mop and Fatty on a vacuum. The kids are still reading, ignoring the giant beacon of light, and learning that a ring of salt protects from witch’s power. It also tastes delicious on french fries. Binx wakes up and makes them close the book.
Max and Allison grab some salt for the walk back to Allison’s. Just in case of slugs or witches or fries, I suppose. They almost start making out but hear some evil creaking upstairs and remember about Dani. When they run up there, the book’s gone. When Max goes for Dani, it turns out to be Slutty JP in the bed. Winnie and Fatty have captured Dani and were hiding in the closet. Allison makes a salt ring which saves her and Max, but the witches leave with Dani.
As they are flying along, Slutty JP starts singing her children luring song. She writhes in the sky as she sings about children playing in her garden of magic. Mmmhmmm.
Children from all over start lining up for the garden party.
Allison figures out that if the sun comes up before they suck the life of children, the Sisters will die. For real for real.
Max shows up at the Sanderson house just as they are trying to force feed Dani some life sucking potion. He says that the witches forgot about daylight savings time, as light streams through their window. They back off and fall to the ground, as Max frees Dani, grabs Binx, spills the potion and steals his shoes back from Ice, who is still in a cage.
Outside, we see Allison just shining headlights inside the house. The witches are all, “we aren’t dead,” after a moment, and I’m not sure how this really confused them.
Thankfully, they have just enough potion left for once child. Instead of using the potion on any number of children that are arriving for the garden of magic party, Winnie decides she wants to go after Dani, because yes.
With the witches in pursuit, the kids make it back to the cemetery. The Ex-Lover is there, and Winnie orders him to kill Max. He pulls out a knife, and Ex-Lover takes it from him and slits open his sewed together mouth. Dust comes out of there and it makes me slightly gaggy to think about his breath. Ex-Lover calls Winnie a trollop, and some other things, and walks away with Max. He’s a good zombie.
The kids prepare for a showdown. The make a salt circle and arm themselves with bats, all of which proves futile when Winnie grabs Dani. Binx manages to knock the potion out of Winnie’s hand, though, and Max grabs it. They have a “give me my sister,” “give me my potion” showdown that ends with Max swallowing the potion himself. Seriously, though, this is a lot of sibling love. (S: Word. Some Katniss/Prim level sibling love.)
Winnie lets Dani go and grabs Max.
They struggle for a bit which is good because it gives the sun time to come up. Even though Winnie gets a few sips of essence of Max, it’s too late and she turns to stone. Fatty Najimy, Slutty JP and Bette Midler all explode into cheap effects and craft glitter.
Lor: The kids are fine, Ex-Lover goes back to being dead, and Binx is dead too. Dani is sad, but thankfully ghost Binx in human form, shows up to say his goodbyes and be reunited with his ghost sister. His sister asks him what took him so long, and he answers, “I had to wait 300 years for a VIRGIN!!!!!!! to light a candle.”
Oh, those silly virgins and their hijinks.