Why ‘Hocus Pocus’ is the best Halloween film ever

Perennially loved and unendingly cheesy (of course it’s set in Salem, Massachusetts), Hocus Pocus is and always will be top of my list in terms of Halloween films. When teenage virgin Max lights a candle which brings back the Sanderson sisters to Salem, he must protect younger sister Dani, love interest Allison and the rest of the town from their child-searching vendetta. There’s also a talking cat and lots of billowy white shirts.

There’s just something utterly heartwarming about it; knowing that, as Halloween swiftly approaches, you’ll soon be curled up on a sofa, hopefully with one of your Mum’s gingerbread cookies, watching Bette Midler being sassy. She’s definitely the best part in the film, especially when she looks out of the window saying “Oh look, another glorious morning. Makes me SICK!” We feel you, Winnifred Sanderson. We feel you.

The production value and attention to detail isn’t, well, Oscar-worthy; you can see the wires on Mary Sanderson’s broom, Salem didn’t actually have its own bus system in 1993, and the executioner who hung the Sanderson sisters wears a leather ensemble with metal spikes (which would have been a tad too modern for late 17th century Salem). All of that doesn’t matter, though. As soon as boy-mad Sarah Sanderson flies through the air luring children, you remember that you’re essentially watching a weird movie about witches who want to suck out children’s souls and who fly around on hoovers.

Hocus Pocus was destined to be a box-office flop. The, erm, smart decision was made to release this Halloween film in July, and naturally it took a few years for it to be seen as a cult classic and sleeper hit. It has everything you need, though; cute 90s tie-dye-wearing dreamboat protagonist (the role of which was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio, which would have been WONDERFUL) – a catchy song that lives on through Halloween playlists forever, and ‘Thackeray Binx’ being the best name ever.

It also taught all kids what a virgin was – no need for that awkward talk with your parents. And ‘yabbos,’ which I think still have yet to transcend the transatlantic barrier.

And, to make Hocus Pocus that little bit more entertaining this Halloween, 2birds1blog have kindly crafted a Hocus Pocus drinking game for us naughty millennials to indulge in, which is as follows:

RULES – drink when:

– Sarah Jessica Parker sings
– A spell is cast
– Someone mentions a virgin
– The Black Flame Candle is lit
– “Yabos” are mentioned
– Whenever the witches are tricked by technology
– Binks (in cat or human form) says “Emily”
– Bette Midler speaks French
– Mary smells children
– Max is referred to as “Hollywood”
– A townsperson talks about the myth of the Sanders’ Sister
– The book’s eyes open
– There’s a billowy white shirt
– Bette Midler says “SISTAHHHHHS”

Happy Halloween!

Words by Steph Green

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  • Rotten Tomatoes, much like IMDB, has a big issue with a built in “sample bias”. The sort of folks who contribute reviews do tend to skew towards white, male, affluent 18-45 so those best of lists to tend to reflect that e.g. Shawshank, Star Wars, Godfather etc. Correspondingly, an all female cast would never rank as high in that demographic. Though if you want a guaranteed screamer for Halloween, go no further than The Watcher In The Woods. A 1980 Disney TV movie that’ll give you nightmares for months.

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