Hocus Pocus : Nothing good can come of this book!

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In 1693, Salem, Massachusetts, had quite a nasty reputation for being the capitol of witchery and mayhem, and it happened to be the home of three very nasty sorceresses. One morning, Thackery Binx (Sean Murray) awoke to find his little sister, Emily (Jodie Rivera), missing. He knew evil was afoot, and since it was so close to All Hallow’s Eve, the Sanderson sisters were up to no good. The three spinsters had a reputation for being evil, but no one could ever really prove it. Thackery was unlucky enough to catch them as Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker) lured Emily back to the Sanderson’s home, where Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Winifred (Bette Midler) are brewing up a huge caldron of a glowing green potion. This is a life potion, but not one that enhances the life of those whom drink it. It releases the life essence of victim along when used with an incantation, which will make the people saying the spell younger. It only works best when used on children.

Thackery catches the witches in the act of completing the spell, and we see that Emily has been drained of her life essence, and the old hags now look younger, but not really any prettier, with the exception of Sarah. Sarah shows us that pretty dumb blondes exist anywhere, even in families filled with evil magic-users. Since Thackery has not only found them out, he also insulted Winifred. To stop him from going to the authorities, and to teach him a lesson, Winifred curses him, and turns him into an immortal black cat. Thackery was wise enough to tell his friend, Elijah (Steve Voboril) where he was going , and why he was heading there. Elijah brings the constable to the Sanderson house, and the evidence is clear that witchcraft has been done, and the Sanderson sisters are sentenced to hanging. They promise that they will be back for vengeance, because they have left their tools behind, including a enchanted candle that has been crafted with a very special spell and their spellbook…. well, this tome is more like an encyclopedia of spells, because it is HUGE! and very creepy. It is bound in human skin and has a moving eye on its lock.

Fast forward three hundred years, it is now 1993, Seattle grunge is the big fashion, and rappers are becoming pretty common across the airwaves. Max Dennison (Omri Katz) and his family have just moved to Salem from Los Angeles, and he is having a rough time fitting into a town that has its traditions when it comes to Halloween. He’s lost his holiday spirit, and could care less about the stories told at the school, about the Sanderson sisters. A cute girl at school, Alison (Vinessa Shaw) might have what it takes to make him come around. Considering that he has a massive crush on her, that would not be too difficult. His little sister, Dani (Thora Birch) is really loving living in Salem, and can’t get enough of the eerie fun of the holiday. Sadly, Max is being stubborn, and also being picked on as the “new kid”. He could care less about Dani’s trick or treats night, but he’s locked in, or else there will be trouble with the parents, Jenny (Stephanie Faracy) and Dave Dennison (Charles Rocket), since they are going to a big party at the city hall.

So, Max and Dani hit the streets, looking for Dani to score some loot, when they run into Max’s two newest enemies, Jay (Tobias Jelinek) and “ICE” (Larry Bagby), along with some other boys from the high school. The two jerks try to take Dani’s candy, and she insults them, then calls to Max for backup. Max then sees who is giving Dani a hard time, and shoves a bag of candy at them and storms off. Dani still has her bag, so they continue on until they reach the richer section of town. They find a jackpot of high-end candy in the hallway of a very nice home that has been decked out for the holiday. Inside, there is a party going on, and everyone is dressed as 18th-century colonials. This is Alison’s house, and Alison is getting bored with her parent’s party, and decides to join Max and Dani. Alison wants to prove to Max the stories about the Sanderson sisters are true, so they go up to the old house, which is now a closed-down museum.

So, they explore the house a bit, finding all kinds of odds and ends the witches used for their spells. Even their old spellbook is still there, locked in a glass display case. Max makes some fun of the whole thing, and finds the enchanted candle, which has been set to activate if lighted by a virgin. Well, Max proves his sexual innocence when he lights up the candle, and the Sanderson sisters all come back from the grave, as alive and fully formed as the day they were hung. On this one Halloween night, they are going to do whatever it takes to finish what they started three hundred years ago. Thackery is still very much alive, and has been guarding the old house all this time in cat form, and is going to use all his abilities to get Max, Alison, and Dani to stop the Sanderson sisters from tearing his town apart for the sake of a silly vanity potion.

This movie is a classic Halloween treat that never grows stale, and brings back great memories of hit family movies of the early 90s that we can watch over and over again. Bette Midler is just evil, wicked, and nasty as the eldest Sanderson sister. Kathy Najimy is ever the spunky kook, and Sarah Jessica Parker is very far removed from the nerdy teen she played on Square Pegs or the emotional fashionista Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City as the bubbly, creepy, boy crazy witch, Sarah. Another person brought back to us from 1693, along with Sandersons and Thackery is Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones), a zombie created by an ex-boyfriend of Winifred’s that was cursed to eternal silence, even in death, when Winifred caught him cheating on her with Sarah. One will find Billy to be a rather refreshing zombie after all those other zombies we’ve been dealing with in movies over the last few years.

If you are looking for a good clean scare with none of the blood, but all of the magic, and even some silly undeads, then conjure up a movie night of fun with Hocus Pocus. You might have forgotten how much fun these holiday movies can be, but Musings will always be here to remind you.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★★☆ 

Available on DVD from Amazon
Available with Amazon Instant Video