Kid Tested – Uncle Approved: “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

hocus-pocusIn 1693, during the Salem Witch Trials, young Thachary Binx witnesses his sister Emily being taken by three known witches, the Sanderson Sisters. Their goal is to use their dark magic to suck the life out of her and all the children of Salem so they may live forever! Binx foils their plans by dumping the cauldron of potion, but not before poor Emily has had the life sucked out of her. Furious at him, the leader of the sisters, Winifred (played brilliantly by Bette Midler) curses him to a life of immortality as a black cat. Shortly thereafter, the townspeople decent on their cabin and hang the sisters for witchcraft. Before their deaths, Winifred says they will one day return when a virgin lights the black flame candle, after which they will suck the life out of all the children in Salem and then the world!

Three-hundred years later in 1993, Max Dennison and his family have moved to Salem from Los Angeles and he hates all of it. He hates Halloween, he hates folk lore about witches, and thinks it’s all propaganda by candy companies. When Allison speaks up on class about the truth behind the Sanderson sisters, Max gives her his number, which to this day is a baller move. That night, Max has to take his little sister Dani (Thora Birch, “American Beauty”) out trick-or-treating. When they end up at Allison’s house, she tells them her family own the Sanderson sisters’ house which is now a museum. Max convinces her to take them there and once inside, he lights the black flame candle, refusing to believe it’s anything more than “a bunch of hocus pocus”.

I’m sure you can guess what happens next: the sisters return and immediately set about making a new potion to keep themselves alive forever, else they be turned to dust by sunrise. The kids meet Binx in cat form and he chastises them for lighting the candle but tells Max to grab the spellbook before Winifred can use it. They escape by the skin of their teeth and run to their parents at a huge costume ball. Thinking they’re hopped-up on sugar, Max and Dani’s parents don’t believe a word they’re saying. Suddenly, the Sanderson sisters arrive and Max tries to out them, but everyone laughs and applauds their amazing costumes. Winifred then leads her sisters Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and the band in a chorus of “I Put a Spell on You” and causes all the adults in town to “Dance! Dance until you die!”

The kids are able to trick the witches into the pottery kiln in the high school and burn them alive! Unfortunately, Winifred’s spell protects them for the entire night, so they come back with a vengeance and kidnap Dani and Binx, and using Sarah’s siren song, lure all the children of Salem back to their cabin to complete the ritual. Max and Allison, along with Billy, the undead former lover of Winifred, must do battle with the witches in the cemetery in order to save Dani and all the children in Salem, all before the sunrises!

Another must-watch every year, “Hocus Pocus” is one of my favorite non-scary Halloween movies. Back in the days when we had DVR (and before we just bought the DVD) we used to seek this out on ABC Family (now called Freeform, I guess) and record it to watch on Halloween. Midler, Parker, and Najimy are amazing in their roles as the witches and maintain cult following by pretty much everyone with taste of my age. There’s also been rumors of a sequel for years, but I’m not holding my breath. Not very scary at all and devoid of any foul language, “Hocus Pocus” is another great live action Disney movie to add to your collection!

Snack Packs

Rating: 5 out of 5 Snack Packs

Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and filmmaker in Vermont. He made a horror movie once that no one should ever see, but you can see the rest of his work at

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