Hocus Pocus is the very definition of a cult classic. Regarded as a flop at the time of its release, it has gone on to become a global phenomenon, becoming a permanent fixture at Halloween.


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It has everything you could ever want from a spooky Disney movie: scares, thrills, strong characters, and lots of funny moments. Next year, it celebrates its 30th anniversary, and the love for it is as strong, if not stronger than ever. From themed drag shows to public screenings and, of course, a fantastic sequel, Hocus Pocus is as immortal as the Sanderson sisters. Here are just ten reasons why…

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10/10 The Cast

One of the factors that helps elevate Hocus Pocus above standard family-friendly fare is the cast. Every single one of the actors and actresses involved brings their all, with superb comic timing, genuine emotion and lots of charisma.

In particular, the Sanderson sisters couldn’t have been better cast. Winifred would be unthinkable with anyone else but Bette Midler beneath that ginger wig, and Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica-Parker are excellent foils as her less intelligent siblings.

9/10 The Sanderson Sisters Are Proper Villains

The Sanderson sisters are evil. Yes, they’re silly, camp and rather bumbling, but Hocus Pocus never lets us forget that these witches are child killers. Not only that, but they enjoy their work too. Sarah’s haunting song, in particular, is a chilling moment that highlights her true malevolence.

RELATED: Disney’s Villainous Character Tier List

The movie nicely toes the line between making the Sandersons both likable and frightening. We want to see them turn to dust, but perhaps a part of us is secretly rooting for them as well.

8/10 Garry And Penny Marshall

One of the funniest scenes in Hocus Pocus is the hilarious visit the sisters pay to the Devil’s House. In actual fact, it’s just a guy dressed as Satan for Halloween.

The uncredited characters of Master Devil and Medusa Lady are played by the brother and sister duo of Garry and Penny Marshall. They have a wonderful double-act going on, with the ‘Devil’ delighting in the attentions of the three witches, and ‘Medusa’ getting visibly riled when she catches him dancing with Sarah. It’s such an iconic scene, it was directly referenced in the sequel.

7/10 The Non-Stop Gags

Hocus Pocus is a very funny film. There are heaps of one-liners, slapstick moments and whole sequences that induce side-splitting laughter.

From the Sandersons struggling to understand all of the modern inventions that have taken shape since they were last on earth, to a man pretending to be a police officer for Halloween, jokes are never in short supply. The bus ride is a particular highlight!

6/10 THAT Musical Number

In a movie laden with iconic moments, none stand out as much as Bette Midler’s scene-stealing cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’, with altered lyrics and a faster pace.

Winifred literally puts the spell on a host of Salem partygoers at a club, getting them to dance until they drop dead (or, indeed, until the witches turn to dust and the spell is broken). Everybody knows the song, and Bette Midler never misses an opportunity to perform it live.

5/10 Billy Butcherson

The modern-day Lon Chaney, Doug Jones is Hollywood’s go-to performer for wearing prosthetics and the like. Long before his turn in Hellboy as Abe Sapien, he took on the role of Winifred’s doomed ex-lover, Billy Butcherson.

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Billy is a zombie, treated as nothing more than a dogsbody by Winifred. He’s constantly annoyed and ends up turning on her at the end in one last act of defiance. A charming character, perfectly (dis)embodied by Jones. Of course he returned for the sequel.

4/10 The Hoover

Long before she surfed the roombas, Mary Sanderson was forced to use another mode of flight in the original Hocus Pocus movie.

After the witches have their brooms stolen, they have to resort to raiding the closet for other means of transport. Mary has to fly by hoover, in a hilarious moment in which we actually hear it whirring away (despite not being plugged in). The dangling cord ends up leading to her demise…

3/10 The Bullies

Every 90’s kids film seemed to have some idiot bullies as side-villains. In Hocus Pocus, we get Ice and Jay, a pair of dunderheads whose complete lack of self-awareness is terribly amusing to watch.

They steal protagonist Max’s shoes near the start of the movie, and later help themselves to his sister Dani’s Halloween treats. They come a cropper though, when they insult the Sanderson sisters and end up trapped in cages, suspended from the ceiling. Justice!

2/10 The Score

John Debney has a varied career in movie scores, tackling everything from I Know What You Did Last Summer to Doctor Who: The Movie.

Hocus Pocus has a gorgeous soundtrack, with an instantly recognizable theme tune that sets the tone for the thrills and fun to come. Debney has collaborated with Disney for decades now, and knows exactly how to enhance the movies he scores, bringing charm and character to the proceedings.

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1/10 A Happy Ending

At the heart of Hocus Pocus is the story of Thackery Binx, who has spent 300 years as a cat thanks to a particularly wicked spell, and his poor sister Emily, who was the final victim of the Sandersons before their hanging and subsequent resurrection.

The movie ends with Thackery released from his feline prison, and his spirit is reunited with Emily. It’s a beautiful moment, thoroughly touching and bringing closure to their story. They didn’t return for the sequel, because they didn’t need to. They’d finally found peace.

MORE:Unresolved Mysteries & Plot Holes Left Hanging In Hocus Pocus 2

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