In honor of Halloween, I’d like to take a moment to remember a spooky and sexy trio that changed the meaning of “hocus pocus” forever: the Sanderson Sisters. Below are my top 10 moments from the Disney Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker.
There are movies from your childhood that you re-watch as an adult and cringe because it’s awful, and therefore a tiny piece of your childhood purity has just died. Then there are films that you watch, and they are just as magical and glorious as the first time you watched them, and it rekindles your hope that maybe, in fact, you do have good taste in entertainment! Hocus Pocus is one of the chosen few that remains just as good with every subsequent viewing.
The Disney classic, in case you are unfamiliar, stars a trio of witches: The Sanderson Sisters. The leader, Winifred – or Winnie (Bette Midler) – works with her sisters, the salacious Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and the bumbling Mary (Kathy Najimy), to suck the life out of children in order to stay young. They are brought back to life for one night 300 years after their death by new-boy-in-town and Salem skeptic Max Dennison (Omri Katz), who is out trick-or-treating with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and the girl he wants to impress, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). Along with the vengeful and adorable cat-form of Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), the children must battle the sisters to save the town of Salem!
For those that haven’t seen it (go out and buy it) there are spoilers following. If you have seen it, please let me know what your favorite moment is, because I’m sure there are arguments for many other moments from this childhood classic. Please note: they are in chronological order, not order of importance.
1. Dani’s wiser-than-her-years line: “Then take her to the movies like a normal person.”
Dani, who is devilishly clever, has oodles of incredibly witty moments throughout the film, but the exchange between her and Max at Allison’s mansion is the most impressive. While angst-riddled Max tries to woo Allison by agreeing to go with her to the house of the Sanderson Sisters, Dani steps up with some much-needed advice:
Max: Dani, this is the girl of my dreams.
Dani: So take her to the movies like a normal person.
Max: Dani! Look, just do this one thing for me, and I’ll do anything you say. Please? Please? Please?
Dani: Okay, okay. Next year, we go trick-or-treating as Wendy and Peter Pan… with tights or it’s no deal.
The girl is a master of manipulation. She keeps up her antics as the movie continues, most notably when she pretends to have summoned the Sanderson Sisters herself.
2. Sarah the witch, just in general.
Okay, okay, I’ll admit I cheated. This isn’t a moment, but more an entire character, but still. How can you pick just one moment? Sarah Jessica Parker is magical as Sarah. The fact that she repeats everything that is said countless times as she dances about combined with the fact that she is constantly flirting with men, even at the dance when they are chasing the children… great. And of course the line, “I am BEAUTIFUL! Boys will love me”… irresistible.
3. This exchange between Winnie and the bus driver.
Winnie: We desire… children.
Bus Driver: Hey, it may take me a couple of tries, but I don’t think there will be a problem.
Re-watching this as an adult, I definitely had that double-take moment until it finally dawned on me: Hocus Pocus just made a sexual innuendo. While the entire bus driver scene is hilarious from the moment he flirts with them to Sarah sitting on his lap and driving, this small moment is a treasure that reminds us all: Disney is not just for kids!
4. Mary’s facial expression.
Okay, okay, I cheated again, because this isn’t a moment but a ubiquitous occurrence, but the way she keeps the bottom right side of her lip down like that is incredible. How did she keep that up throughout the whole film even as she spoke? Did make-up help? The lip slip just makes her dowdy character all the more comical.
5. The song and dance number, “I Put a Spell on You.”
It’s the most iconic moment in the film, so how could you not include it on a list such as this? The ladies take the stage, and it is by far Winnie’s shining hour! Winnie is hilarious throughout the film, but she comes to life (pun intended) that evening when she takes the stage.
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