The thirteen days leading up to Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without a showing of Hocus Pocus. Twenty-four years after its creation, this Halloween film is still loved by many. The Legend of the Sanderson Sisters have haunted the citizens of Salem for three centuries; coming back for one night to wreak terror at the hands of one foolish virgin fresh out of California. Filled with numerous witty remarks and lovable characters, Hocus Pocus surely does “Put a Spell on You”.
Starting with the three sisters: Winifred is the matriarch, the most intelligent and magically inclined; Mary is the goofy sister who sniffs out young children to devour; Sarah the ditzy siren who lures men and children with song. Together, the three of them are the perfect witchy trifecta.
I love each of them individually. The hot-tempered redhead Winifred is guided by her desires to live young and beautiful for all eternity; not deterred by her flaky siblings nor the temporary loss of her beloved Book. Crooked-mouthed brunette Mary is the comic relief out of the three of them. One of my favorite scenes with her, is when the sisters’ brooms are taken and she is left with a vacuum. Years before Sabrina the Teenage Witch who flies on such an object, Mary did it first and with humorous style. Especially when the protagonists stop her by grabbing the end of her cord; that part always has me laughing. Lastly, the blond-haired Sarah who is graceful and naïve; she brings a lightness to the screen. However, Sarah also brings the power of temptation, not just though song to young children but also to the Salem men; examples are the bus driver, the man dressed as a devil and Billy Butcherson.
Billy is one of my all-time favorite characters. He is the ex-lover of both Winifred and Sarah Sanderson; what a player. His mouth was sewn shut and was killed because of his unfaithfulness, or more realistically he was charmed by Sarah and Winifred wanted the handsome man to herself. When the sisters raise him from the dead, his first reaction is the best. He looks around to find his tombstone placed behind him, and grunts disapprovingly. He throws his hands up in agitation, and in disobedience when given orders by the sisters.
I love his blasé personality; he is already dead, what can they really do to him now? Even when he follows their orders to attempt capturing protagonist Max, he has a change of loyalty once he uses a knife to cut open his mouth. And the first words out of his decomposing body are insults against the witches. He can finally say what he has wanted to for so long! Now free from their rule, Billy joins the good guys and protects Dani to the very end; even losing his head in the process.
Another one of my favorite victims of the Sanderson Sisters, is Thackery Binx. I’ll be honest, it started with my love of cats. Binx is a smart-ass black cat who guards the Sanderson house from virgins on Halloween night. He started out as a teenage boy who failed in saving his sister Emily from the sister’s wrath. His life was stolen from him; unrecognizable to his family, forced to live an endless life in loneliness and regret.
However, his life finally had a true purpose again once Max decided to light the black flame candle. At first, Binx was furious that after three centuries of preventing the sisters from returning, one foolish boy destroyed his efforts. Although, he soon came to realize that Max’s mistake would in fact bring the sisters down for good and free Binx from his curse; finally, able to move on. Of course, I cried when Binx the cat died! That broke my heart, but Thackery, the innocent centuries old boy was finally at peace. Binx brought love and affection to Dani, and proved to be fair adversary against the witches during his alliance with Max and friends.
The sibling dynamics between Thackery and Emily are sweet, but I favor the one between Max and Dani. Dani is a spunky little girl who talks back to frightening old hags, fearlessly mocks her brother’s bullies, and escapes the safety of Billy’s grave to put his head back on his shoulders. Having no siblings of my own, I adore scenes where I can experience that special bond.
Lastly, the aspect of Hocus Pocus that I love the most: Centuries old Salem meets Modern 1990’s Salem. Max, Alison, Dani and Binx can escape them many times because of the time gap. The first time is when the sisters chase them from their house and are stopped short by a concrete road that they believe is a river. The second is when they stop at the Devil’s house and have their brooms stolen by three children dressed as them for Halloween; the modern concept of disguised children on Halloween alludes them. The third time is when Max uses his lighter to start the sprinkler system which is newly installed into their home. They believe he can create fire in the palm of his hand, and that the water raining down on them is poisonous. He also tricks them into believing that sunrise has come by shining a car’s high-beams through their house windows.
I love Hocus Pocus, and all of witty humor. I will leave you with my favorite line of the entire movie: “Hello, I want my book. Bonjour, je veux mon livre”.
[Photo credit: IMDB]