10 things I learned from ‘Hocus Pocus’

Here’s a fact that will surprise absolutely nobody: I wasn’t allowed to see Hocus Pocus when it came out in theatres because I was eight, and . . . I actually think that’s the only reason why. NOW, I will admit that my parents may just not have wanted to take me to see Hocus Pocus because they didn’t want to see Hocus Pocus (because honestly: how scary was this movie, really?), but still. Rules were rules and I didn’t see it until many years later when it was old hat to everybody else.

Life is unfair is what I’m saying.

And do you know who understands that sentiment more than anybody on this planet? Witches. And not just any witches: the witches of Hocus Pocus who include but are not limited to the Sanderson Sisters. (And I am Bette Midler, always.)

Truly, it was between this and The Crucible (another movie I wasn’t allowed to see), but I figured, hey: the time to hesitate is through. We need to talk about Hocus Pocus. TRY AND STOP ME NOW MOM AND DAD.

Here’s what I learned about it so far:

1. Ultimately our parents maybe had a point: this movie is terrifying

When you think about it, the idea of three women stealing children to absorb their youth is INSANE. That is TERRIFYING. And even though I know I would’ve watched this, stoked to be watching Bette Midler on the big screen (loved her since The Simpsons thank you very much), a smaller — albeit super consuming —part of me would’ve thought, “Tonight it will happen: I will be taken by these women, and then I will die.” Kind of like watching Unsolved Mysteries as a kid where you’d be too scared to walk by your bathroom, convinced some dude would appear to the theme song. Or was that just me? Should I even be watching Hocus Pocus NOW? (Yes.)

2. Seriously though, our society bred the Sanderson sisters

And I say that because we as a society are freakishly youth-centric, so clearly they were made to feel like they SHOULD steal youthfulness — ala Fiona in American Horror Story: Coven — because our world is gross. Yes, even in the 1600s. THIS FLAWED IDEOLOGY TOOK CENTURIES TO BREED, PEOPLE.

3. I am Thora Birch, always

Or more specifically: we should aspire to be Thora Birch. She’s sassy — referred to as “bratty” in this movie, but that’s blasphemous — and she’s brazen and she does not put up with anybody’s nonsense. Frankly, she speaks her mind better as a child in 1993 than I have done as a 20-something-year-old woman. Why? Because adults were writing her lines. But ALSO, her delivery nails it. And it’s not like it’s just a Thora Birch-in-Hocus Pocus situation, either: have you guys seen All I Want For Christmas? (If so, say something, and then I can write about it in December.) It’s Thora at her sassiest. So that being said, in the words of Practical Magic, there’s a little witch in every woman. But also, I like to think of Thora Birch as a kid who takes charge.

4. Also, children’s movies are the saddest movies

And I say this because I want to talk about Binx, because Binx dying is still fresh in my mind. HE HAD TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF, YOU GUYS. For the kids! Do you know how SAD that is? This is a movie for CHILDREN. This movie and like, Homeward Bound (I will never write about that movie, so nobody ask because I will WEEP, and the whole piece will just be me crying) are proof that you can’t trust kids’ movies. Somebody always dies, somebody always says goodbye, and I, as an adult, have to pretend I am not being affected by any of it. Well guess what: I teared up just now thinking I might have a cavity, so surprise surprise, I AM.

5. “Dance yourselves to death” sounds like an LCD Soundsystem song

And that’s probably because there’s an LCD Soundsystem song called, “Dance Yrself Clean,” but what I’m saying is that 1993 missed an opportunity to release a very relevant and addictive song attached to this movie. Also, though, what a horrible spell. Out of ANY “getting rid of people” spell, the Sandersons choose to dance people to death?! Get over it, ladies. It’s the nineties. If these people were going to pass away via dance, it would’ve happened on nightclub floors of the 80s. AM I RIGHT? [high fives self] But I mean, really. Just give them some potion or something.

6. Everyone identifies with a Sanderson sister

And I’m not saying that’s RIGHT since I’m pretty sure they really go above and beyond the standard villain troupe (though I love them anyway because they’re complex and THAT’S how to write a villain, correct?), but ALL I AM SAYING is that I absolutely understand why Bette Midler is so obsessed with her spell book (who wouldn’t be?) but also with SJP’s sarcasm and . . . well, Kathy aka Mary and I don’t have much in common. But I admire her vacuum cleaner, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

7. Witch envy is fine, though

And that’s something I tell myself because even though the Sanderson sisters are LEGITIMATELY terrifying, I still want to . . . be them? What’s going ON? Was it repeated viewings of Practical Magic and repeated readings of The Witches and an obsession with Practical Magic that’s continued to this day? Probably. Because here’s the thing: magic is cool, witches are cool, and powers are cool. They’re COOL. Why would you want to be one of the normal characters like Max when you can be a witch? Minus the children eating, obviously. But still. POWER. Because no one human should have it. (That’s why it’s being dispersed in this effective manor.)

8. Ernie and Jay should now have a post-Hocus Pocus movie

In which we see them try to stifle the memories of their traumatic kidnapping while slowly accepting that magic was responsible. Of course, this would be WONDERFUL as they are now grown up and recognizing the error of their ways as kids. Maybe they’ve turned a corner. Maybe, somehow, they’re now involved in magic. Maybe they meet up with Thora Birch who rounds out some sort of great trifect. Maybe I’m just describing the movie we deserve to see.

9. But seriously though, those children would be traumatized after this

How do you go back to school after that? “How was your Halloween?” – “Well, my kid sister was almost eaten/absorbed by evil witches and all of us almost died, including our parents.” – “Cool.” Right?! No! NOT TO MENTION these children didn’t even have any parents to confide in. “Mom, Dad, you almost danced to death.” – “Go to your room.”

See? This movie is TERRIFYING. It is a psychological and emotional NIGHTMARE. And man alive I love it SO MUCH.

10. The nineties understood the importance of witches and it was wonderful

Like, REALLY, though. Enter: this movie. Enter: Practical Magic. The Craft. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Seriously! This decade ran with and embraced female empowerment via magic in a big, big way, and we’re all the better for it. Remember: witchcraft IRL is nothing like the children-eating mandate of the Sanderson sisters and their Hocus Pocus glory. But damn it, I’m still happy we had so many witches to choose from growing up.

And I’m not just saying this because I’m listening to a playlist called “Witchy Thug Grrrl Pop” as I type this.

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