Do you like scary movies?
It’s time to “be afraid, be very afraid” as SpoilerFreeReviews is dropping 13 spooky movies for fans to enjoy this PSL season. We will be posting our most frightful Halloween favorites over the next 13 spooky nights. So come join us around the fire as we tell our 13 creepy Halloween favorites. 🎃
Let me start off by saying I HATE horror films. I HATE being scared, watching limbs dismembered, and buckets of blood splashed everywhere. So I am not sure why I decided to participate in these 13 Nights of Halloween reviews. Nor am I sure of why my son, Aaron, loves horror. (Obviously did not get that from me!) My only saving grace was remembering the 1993 timeless Halloween cult classic, HOCUS POCUS.
This movie is 28 years old, featuring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, and Vinessa Shaw. There is also a brief scene where Gary Marshall plays the devil and his real-life daughter, Penny, acts as his slovenly wife. A great scene reminding us of actors long gone and how good they were. Kenny Ortega produced HOCUS POCUS. I never realized his genius back then.
The plot is simple. The three Sanderson sisters, who happen to be witches, were executed in Salem, but not before a magical curse was put into effect. Every year they have the opportunity to be resurrected if a virgin lights the black flame candle on All Hallows Eve. The witches then have 24 hours to brew a potion and capture a child to take their soul. If this is not completed by sunrise, the witches turn to dust forever. Easy peas, right? But 300 years have passed. Times have changed. Life is far more complicated.
What I loved about HOCUS POCUS is all the physical comedy. I still laugh at the trio walking down a street or hall together. I get a kick out of seeing an upright vacuum cleaner as a flying broom. There are several Three Stooges’ routines used that crack me up. Three distinct styles of comedy are featured between the witches. There’s so much energy, timing, and pausing for natural breaths. It is a master class.
The make-up and costuming are well done. Who can ever forget Bette’s lipstick and buck teeth? And the craziest line, “I’ll have your guts for garters!” But for me, the piece de resistance is Bette Midler singing “I Put A Spell On You,” complete with backup singers. Such fun!
Why do I like this movie so much, you ask? It’s very personal. I recall watching HOCUS POCUS with my children, Aaron and Ilisa. They laughed and carried on about it. My daughter was a huge Bette fan. She sang that song for weeks after. I can still hear her in my head belting it out and Aaron telling her to stop singing, but in a not so “brotherly” way. Ilisa died from cancer 11 years ago, but it never stops me from hearing her voice, seeing the two of them arguing, and sitting in a darkened theatre sharing a special moment of days long ago. HOCUS POCUS makes me smile and remember.
As a theatre teacher, HOCUS POCUS doubles down on every Broadway schtick invented. It’s an acting lesson on “topping,” and that makes it a winner for a silly, “non-horror,” horror film.
It is available on Disney+. Watch it, or I’ll put a spell on you.