Pop Culture Blind Spot: Hocus Pocus

I haven’t seen Hocus Pocus. I’m an older millennial who was the perfect age to be a fan of Hocus Pocus when it came out, yet I’ve managed to still succeed in life without having seen this “cultural touchstone”.  When I say I haven’t seen it to others of my generation, there’s shock, disgust, and a response of, “You have to watch it, it’s soooo good.” Listen, I get that a lot about every movie I haven’t seen. That’s the point of these Pop Culture Blind Spots. Please stop telling me popular movies are going to be good. Anyways, you want to keep reading after my rant, right? Good.

My knowledge of Hocus Pocus: Bette Midler. Sarah Jessica Parker. Kathy Najimy. Three witches get together dressed in over-the-top costumes to hang out with kids and sing some songs. They’re probably good witches? Guys, honestly, I have no idea. People love it especially at Halloween? There’s always a rumor there’s going to be a sequel.

Actual movie description: After 300 years of slumber, three sister witches are accidentally resurrect in Salem on Halloween night, and it is up to three kids and their newfound feline friend to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror once and for all.

Sooooo they’re not good witches? Also there’s a cat involved? And no idea it took place in Salem, but that makes sense.

This is a Kenny Ortega jam?! He’s keeps popping up in all my favorite things! High School Musical, Dirty Dancing, some of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes.

Is Omri Katz the kid from Indian in the Cupboard? Oh, no, the character’s name in that movie is Omri. HAHAHA This dude was in Eerie, Indiana though! What, you haven’t seen Eerie, Indiana? IT IS SO GOOD.

I forgot Thora Birch is in this!

Wait does this take place in the 1600s? Or this might be a flashback. To 300 years ago. Which explains the slight British accents and peasant shirts. I’m with you now. I’m onto the logic of this children’s film.

Oh Bette Midler’s wig is…LAID.

This book with the eye looks eerily like the Care of Magical Creatures book in HP.

Why are the sisters’ mouths all weird?

This was the year right after Sister Act. Kathy Najimy living her best life.

So the potion made them “younger”? Is this like a cautionary tale about naturally aging and not giving into plastic surgery and botox? And is Emily dead now? Or did she turn into a little girl ghost?

Is this a true story? I SAW GOODY MIDLER WITH THE DEVIL!

Max is a recent transplant from Los Angeles who said “Give me a break” after his teacher was telling them a story of witches instead of whatever she’s really supposed to be teaching them, and her response was, “We seem to have a skeptic in our midst. Mr. Dennison would you care to share your California tye-dye point of view?”

Why does Max look like a creep hitting on Allison?

The instrumentals in this film are truly enjoyable.

I MISS FALL IN NEW ENGLAND.

UGH this must’ve really been filmed in Massachusetts. It’s so New England-y! 😍

These idiots:

Calling him “Hollywood” and stealing his new sneakers is exactly what is wrong with white boys and bullying.

Ok this Dennison family house is spectacular. Max has stairs leading to somewhere inside his spacious room??

How cute is Thora Birch tho

Dad: What are you supposed to be, Max?

Max: A rap singer. 

Dad: Oh. Well your hat should be on sideways, shouldn’t it?

Ice & his leather jacket bro are back with more of their cronies and literally sitting outside a house making kids pay a toll in order to pass by. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

Oh the huge house is where Allison lives, and apparently the theme is Marie Antoinette – and not the Kirsten Dunst version.

Danni calls out Max liking Allison’s “yabbos”, which is why I hate teenage boys.

So not only did Max’s teacher tell them about the Sanderson witches, but Danni’s teacher told them about the lore too. Is it just like, required cirriculum to tell kids about these witches in Salem? Also I find it funny they’re the “Sandersons”. It’s like, a 300 year old tale about the most haunting ladies in the area and they have the whitest names ever.

“Legend has it that the bones for 100 children are buried within these walls”… and this place used to be a museum open to the public?

If the black flame candle is lit by a virgin on Halloween night, some shit goes down, and apparently Disney is fine by mentioning virgins in this film.

“It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus.” Has this always been a phrase to indicate something being outlandish? I legit thought it was always just a made up thing from this movie.

Is this a crossover with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch?

Has Hocus Pocus been made into a haunted house yet?

Max the Virgin lit the candle and conjured up the three witches, and it’s basically like the opening scene in the 1600s but with Max saving Danni. I love a good plot parallel.

Ugh instead of hauling butt out of there, he tells the sisters they messed with the “Great and Powerful Max” so now he’s “summoning the burning rain of death”. Just leave.

No wait the cat talks is it Salem’s great-grandfather or something?

 

Honestly, do these sisters think they’re in a never-ending musical?

Has Hocus Pocus been made into a musical yet? (Yes, kinda – a musical parody)

Winifred caught her BF William Butcher cheating on her with her sister Sarah so she punished him? I mean I’d be a little mad at my sister too, just saying.

The cat’s name is Thackary Binx. Solid name. You don’t hear the name Thackary anymore. Wonder if it was the Madison of its era.

LOL Thackary with the shade calling Max an “airhead virgin”.

Yo the zombie getting up from his death slumber is me when someone tries to wake me up in the morning.

Also, the zombie is William the one who played two of the sisters? And now Winifred’s asking for his help?

 – an actual bus driver picking up the sisters  🙄

Also: “We desire children” – Winifred. “It might take me a few tries, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.” – bus driver who needs to calm down.

THACKARY 

OMG HIS STOMACH JUST INFLATED HAHAHAHA

Ahhhhhh Garry Marshall!!!

This dude pretending to be a real cop is really unnerving to me.

Ahhhhhh Penny Marshall!!!

This entertainment center with VHS tapes is my aesthetic 

Everyone ends up at the big Halloween party, where the sisters somehow end up on stage and sing I Put a Spell on You. Look, I love a musical number but this seems unnecessary. Especially if they’re trying to track down Max and co.

They tricked the sisters into the high school where they burned them alive?? Did this even work? Seems too easy.

It didn’t work.

Winifred comes out of the kiln speaking French because Max was pumping some kind of instructional tape over the stereo, and it’s the first time I’ve LOLed.

The bully idiots are back and discuss illegally watching naked women: “do you wanna look in windows and watch babes undress?” “It’s 3:00, they’re undressed already.” Honestly, what the actual fuck. This is what we taught our kids?

Kathy Najimy uses a vacuum to fly – so basically they can fly using anything, since it’s not the broom that has the power, it comes from within? I learn something new about witches every day.

“We haven’t the time!” I need to start using this phrase more. Sorry Jessie Spano, Winifred is in.

Wait William is calling Winifred a “trollop”?? I thought he’s the one who cheated on her????

Between Max’s shoes and his gym bag, Nike really got great product placement in this film.

Bitches didn’t even check to see if there was salt in the salt container?!?!

This sun is like The Lion King Musical huge 

Ok, but like a 300 year old male ghost kissing a 9 year old and whispering “I shall always be with you” is creepy right?

“I had to wait 300 years for a virgin to light a candle.”

^Legit the best part of this film.

Meanwhile, the Dennison adults are just clamoring out of the Halloween party wasted, the bullies are stuck in their birdcages, and the Harry Potter book’s eye wakes up.

Unpopular opinion: This film is mediocre? It’s obviously geared towards kids, which is why adults of our generation have a special spot in their hearts for this movie as an important part of their childhood. Was it because it’s been hyped up so much? Maybe. Was it the fact I’m not crazy about Halloween in general? Probably. At least now I can say I’ve seen it. Come at me haters.

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Live Blog: Hocus Pocus

We’re only a month out from Halloween, and it’s time to start live blogging some Halloween favorites from yesteryear! Unfortunately, there’s no good live blog pun having to do with Halloween. ‘Liveblog-oween?’ ‘Boo! It’s a Liveblog?’ Nothing.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. It’s just that ‘Liveblog-warts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry’ would take up too many characters on Twitter.

For my first selection, I will be liveblogging the seminal Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus was released in 1993, so I’m documenting this both in commemmoration of its 20-year anniversary, and of my lost youth – truly, the scariest thing of all.

  • The curtain opens on sometime in yesteryear. 1600s? 1700s? But don’t worry, the boy (Elijah) has the patented Cute Teenaged Boy From The Mid’90s Haircut. You know the one.

    Shhhh. You know what? I initially had the awkward drawing app I was using as an excuse for spelling beautiful like that. But I did it. I own it. Keeping the live in live blog.

  • He also has the patented Yesteryear Accent. Not quite American, not quite British – so, like the 1600s teen boy version of Katharine Hepburn.
  • Special Effect #1: There is purple smoke coming from the witches’ chimney. It looks like it was drawn on the frame with magic marker
  • I wonder if Bette Midler’s hairline is inspired by Queen Elizabeth I, assuming this is the 1600s. Then I realize that I am probably thinking about this way more than the art director of Hocus Pocus ever did.
  • Special Effect # 2: The glowing blue cauldron looks like dry ice over an LED bulb.
  • Elijah pours the cauldron on Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker. It has turned green, but still looks like something out of a middle school’s production of Little Shop Of Horrors Junior.
  • The 90s Supporting Actress Sisters have killed (?) Emily, the boy’s sister, and are now young-ish and beautiful-ish.
  • The ladies do a spell, the boy becomes a cat, and I realize how much Sabrina The Teenage Witch has to owe to this fine film. It is possibly the same cat.
  • Sister Mary Patrick, The Rose, and Annie sing. It’s less good than you’d think.
  • The witches will be summoned by a virgin. For almost two decades (!), this movie has been inspiring 7-year-olds to ask awkward questions that their parents totally evade. Well, maybe that was just my parents.
  • The Modern Boy, Max, has the same 90s Hot Boy Hair as the 1600s Boy. He is wearing tie dye and has recently come from California. The early 90s were really into stereotyping Californian teens as peaced out, tye die wearing Haight Ashbury types. Dawn Schaffer, anyone?
  • Female lead – Alison – is sporting some serious Stevie Nicks style. She got off really easy for 1993 hair – narry a mall bang nor spiral perm in sight.
  • TV and movies have me believe that everyone else’s school had a thuggish bully and his dweeby toadie. Did everyone else’s school have those? Maybe mine did, and they just didn’t even know who I was. We meet Salem’s – Jay and Ernie, aka “Ice.”
  • We meet Dani, Max’s little sister, who I’m sure all of you remember is played by Thora Birch. Did you know that Thora’s parents are porn stars? That’s why she has a porn star name. My parents are Irish and named me Molly, Thora’s are porn stars and named her Thora. It’s all about heritage.
  • Max declares that he is dressed as “a rap singer.” He is wearing an LL Bean looking-shirt, some Eddie Bauer-looking jeans, sunglasses, and a Gap baseball hat. Max’s father advises him that his hat should be backwards. Never change, 1993.
  • The symbol on Max’s hat is backwards. Did Lifetime reverse the image for this movie? Or was a backwards G the style of the time?
  • Dani cries on a pile of hay. The hay pile has lit pumpkins on it. The people in this town are such dum-dums, they deserve to get haunted by three witches.
  • I’m not talking about the acting during Dani and Max’s heartwarming sibling chat, because if you can’t say anything nice…
  • Max and Dani are at Allison’s house. From the outside, it looks like my parents’ normal-sized house, but from the inside, it’s an enormous colonial mansion. They’re having a 18th century costume ball and Allison looks like a teen Felicity Merriman.
  • Allison has changed into a cozy, but boxy and unflattering oatmeal colored sweater. Here’s what I want to do. I want to get a screenshot of every outfit like this from the movie. Then, I want to start a tumblr. I’m going to call it You Weren’t There, You Wouldn’t Understand. Every time one of those teen girls posts “90s” fashion on her tumblr, I’m going to tag her so she can see how dopey most of this shit really was. And if she asks me why, I’ll tell her “you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.”

    Or actually. Teen girls on the internet are already talking about how to look like her. I just can’t understand anybody who wasn’t alive for Beanie Babies.

  • Inside the haunted house, Fake Salem jumps out and then the house does some special effects at us. Dani informs us that the house is going crazy because a virgin lit the candle. Busted, Max. Although, he’s about 15 years old and dressed like Marshall Darling from Clarissa Explains It All. I think Allison probably figured.
  • Sister Mary Pat calls Dani a “shiksa baby.” So the witches are … Jewish? Now’s as good a time as any to mention that everyone in this whole movie is white.
  • Bette Midler’s mouth in this looks just like Lady Gaga’s mouth in real life. It’s a tiny pursed bunny mouth.
  • OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS. “Lasers” are shooting out of Bette’s hands and it looks like it was drawn on in post-production in Gel Pen.

    Come on. You can juuuust barely tell which ones I drew on with my thumb using a free drawing app.

  • The witches will turn to dust in the morning if they don’t use some kind of potion that sucks the youth out of children. So basically, David The Gnome. By the way, in the event I ever end up circle-shaped, I’m just going to say screw it and dress like one of the gnome wives on David The Gnome.
  • Max: “We’re talking about three ancient hags vs. the 20th Century!” Hahaha remember the 20th century? Our phones were attached to walls. If you got lost, you had to find a map, read it, then re-fold it, or talk to a human. When you wanted to know what happened to a washed-up celebrity, you had to write a letter to this column that appeared in the U.S.A. Today Weekend section. I’m going Team Three Ancient Hags. If we were to ever add a third to the blog, that’s what we’d change the name to.
  • The kids are now in the Salem Crypt, which attaches to the sewer. So in Salem, when you die you are more or less flushed down the toilet like a goldfish (people who are reading this who know me IRL: I want to be cremated because I don’t think dead people get to own land, and also because I’ve seen just enough episodes of Bones to know that shit gets real dicey, real fast. What I really want is for them to find a way around the whole dying thing before I get to it, though.)
  • Sometime in this whole hullabaloo, Carrie Bradshaw has straightened her hair.
  • The witches get scared of a bus, and I have to admit it: the whole trope when people from the past get scared of mundane modern stuff never gets old for me. Like, I am the one person who liked The Village. Should I be watching Sleepy Hollow? (I’m totally going to watch the 2 eps of Sleepy Hollow today)
  • Dani calls Max a virgin in front of a cop. Yep, little sibs embarrassing their older siblings by accident is another lame trope I kind of adore. Max says “yeah, I’ll get it tattooed on my forehead, ok”, but he is wearing Male Mom Jeans, and that means he will never have to.
  • The witches meet a lady who is wearing hair curlers, possibly as part of a disheveled housewife costume, but more likely because she’s really a disheveled housewife. I’m sort of bummed that nobody sleeps in curlers in earnest anymore. Lost art and all that.
  • Dani tells her mom what’s going on, and as always, begins her spiel with “Max is a virgin.” Ha. Thora Birch’s parents are porn stars.
  • By the way, the mom is dressed as cone bra-era Madonna. Post that note to You Weren’t There, You Wouldn’t Understand.
  • Musical number! Finally! It includes a weird cheer-type thing in the middle and for a moment, I feel like I’m listenting to Hollaback Girl or Mickey.
  • I’m looking at Bette’s buck teeth and I have to get something off my chest. In second grade, there was a girl in my dance class. She had buck teeth and her name was Allison. In my head, I referred to her as Buckingham Alice.  I was seven. SEVEN. I wish live blogs had been invented then. I was such a charming little girl.
  • Max tells the cat “man, you can’t keep blaming yourself for that. It happened so long ago!” The cat’s talking about Emily’s demise, but Max’s advice sounds just like so many 20-something guys when they are drunk and get going talking about a lost love.
  • Dani makes another reference to Max’s virginity, following the comedy rule of ‘if your movie has one funny thing, you can keep repeating it as many times as you need to.’
  • The bully and his lackey are back, and I have no idea whether Ice’s outfit is a costume or 1993 dress. It’s sort of this orange thing that maybe is supposed to be a pumpkin, or maybe is part of that Kente cloth thing that was happening for a while. Do you want to chime in, girls who were born in 1998? Well, don’t. You weren’t there. You wouldn’t understand.*

*(Bam. Rule of threes.)

  • Max wakes up next to Allison. MAX WAKES UP NEXT TO ALLISON. But – ew – the witches’ creepy book is watching them. And Dani is in the room. And they’re both wearing a crazy amount of clothing (seriously, was it even possible to undress in an attractive way in 1993, with all those flannels and waffle weaves?). AND Max’s alarm clock looks like some kind of a rubix cube. So, all of that points to him still being a virgin. Or Allison being into some sick shit.
  • Fake Salem jumps onto the Witch Book while Max and Allison are reading it. Most realistic thing in the movie thus far. Cats are a bunch of book-blocking douchebags, when you really get down to it.
  • Bradshaw is singing, something about her Garden Of Magic, because this movie is just entendres on entendres. The song sounds almost identical to Once Upon A December from Anastasia.
  • Bette has Dani tied up, and Dani shouts “It doesn’t matter how young or old you are! You sold your soul!” Can I get a sound file of that on my phone? Earlier today I was Groupon-hunting for chemical peels or something to make me look less like I’m slowly decaying from the inside, and I think maybe if I played that clip whenever I pulled stuff like that it would make me stop.
  • This one zombie helps them. He hides Dani in a grave, and you know who I want to be, out of everyone in this whole tale? Dani’s therapist, 20 years in the future. He or she must be very rich.
  • That one zombie’s head falls off. He takes it pretty much in stride, which is amazing considering I lost a huge handful of hair in the shower this morning and I STILL feel kind of iffy about it. He hasn’t been getting much screen time because zombies weren’t as trendy back then.
  • Bette’s still all pissed because Dani called her ugly. Some people really do never move past junior high, huh? If I were a witch and someone called me ugly, I’d just be all “well, I’m a witch, I do what I want.” Or really, even if as a person someone called me ugly, I’d just be all “well, I’m a witch, I do what I want.”
  • Max is sort of 1/3 of the way to being see through, and he looks exactly like a kid who would be on the cover of a Fear Street book.
  • Dani calls her brother jerkface. Good, but not great. Anyone else do compound-insults with their siblings? My brother and I used to go back and forth: Stink festival, Crap factory, Dork-Con 2000. We were in high school at the time.
  • Fake Salem becomes a boy and heads off with Emily, but not before really creepily kissing Dani on the cheek.
  • The film closes on little Dani looking off into the sunset. It’s 1993, and in just 6 short years, we’ll all see her boobs in American Beauty. Everything is gross.

A note: if you like our fictional tumblr from this post, you’ll love our post this upcoming Friday! But there are plenty more 90s posts between now and then, so why don’t you just come back every day instead?