Hello, Spongey here.
Time for our final Halloween review!. This is a movie I’ve heard about for awhile, but haven’t really seen yet. Well, now is the time to fix that. And once again, it’s one i started years ago but never bothered to finish until now.
This is a somewhat well known 1993 Disney film. When it came out, it got negative reviews but now it has a pretty strong cult following. But even today, the reaction is mixed. Some enjoy it cuz it’s nostalgic for them, but some still don’t like it.
So of course, I’ll find out which side I’m on. Now, this was originally meant to be produced as a smaller movie for the Disney Channel (keep it mind this is before they officially made the DCOM brand) but the studio thought the script was good enough for a big release, with big names.
But it still ended up connecting to the Disney Channel. See, this film is directed by Kenny Ortega. That’s right, the same mind behind the epic High school musical trilogy. Which means this will be awesome!
…Unless the writing of the amazing director of The Shining miniseries kills it. That’s possible too. But hey, you never know, it could be good.
So enough introductions. Let us dig in!
This, is Hocus Pocus
The movie opens on Halloween in 1693, with a dude in Salem, Massachusetts. We see that he sees that his sister Emily is missing, and tries to figure out what is going on. Eventually, he finds her….captured by three witches.
He sneaks away for a bit so we can see the witches hang out ,I guess. This is Winnie, the head one, Mary, the middle one, and Sarah the dumb-ish one. They seem to be using Emily for a big spell they are doing.
And from the looks it, Winnie is trying to find as much scenery as possible to chew. Anyway, they are draining Emily’s life to regain their youth. It almost works until the farmer boy runs in. He has a name but it’s old time-y and weird.
So he heroically runs in and…they zap him. Okay, that’s hilarious. It catches you off guard and messes with your expectations. Nice. Anyway, with him out, they start to zap out the girl’s youth.
Winnie and Mary turn…younger, and Sarah becomes flat out attractive. By the way, Winnie is played by Beter Middler, Mary was that one awesome bitchy chick in The Scream Team and Sarah is…well, Sarah….Jessica Parker. She’s kind of hot here so I don’t know how she ended up becoming…Sarah Jessica Parker.
Farmer boy is still alive and as he comes to, he says there isn’t enough children in the world to make them young and beautiful. Well, it worked for Sarah already so shut up. Anyway, the witches try to figure out what to do with the kid.
Eventually, they decide he will live forever….as a cat. Well, it’s better than being a dog. There are more crappy dog movies than cat movies….as we have proven. Suddenly, an angry mob shows up, pissed at the witches.
So this is a which opens the past as evil things successfully happen and an angry mob wants it stopped. Spooky Buddies was more cliché than I thought.
The mob captures them (worst witches ever if they can’t escape) and prepares to have them hanged. You know-for kids!
Anyway, they are in high spirits cuz they are being hanged and they are still singing. Well, if you call that high pitch “singing”. And people mock that other Kenny Ortega movie for bad singing…
Anyway, this actually activates a spell that will resurrect them on Halloween if a virgin lights their black flamed candle.
Virgin. Again, you know-for kids! Also, this is way too specific to be a sure fire way out. If a guy HAPPENS to do a certain thing on Halloween, you come back? You have tons of spells and this is the best you could come up with?
This turns out to be a story told by a teacher during class, and our lead Max, does not buy it. The teacher briefly mocks him for that. Well, she’s fired. The other kids do too which is just odd. Is it really that big of a deal?
Must not be cuz they just move on from that, as school lets out. Some weak expositions tells us he is a new kid, and he used to live in Los Angles, and now he is in Salem. With the way he acts about the Halloween stuff, I am going to assume Halloween does not exist in LA somehow.
He has managed to talk to an obvious love interest named Allison, so that’s cool. After a small scene with her, he bumps into some kids who offer him a smoke. …Now this is a Drug PSA?
Being the 90’s bullies they are, they steal his shoes. I’ve seen lamer bullies, sadly. After that, he goes home to his parents.
“How was school?”
“Hey, watch the language”
Pffft, I forgot about the time when saying suck was just not allowed, but now Regular Show says it all the time.
He goes to take a nap and uh…
“Oh, Allison, you’re so soft”
…Is he…uh….hey look, a jump scare!
That jump comes from his sister Dani who is a typical annoying younger sister. She tells him he has to take her Trick or Treating even though he does not wish to. Man, that has become a major cliché over the years.
We then skip to Halloween as they head out and bump into the bullies. These guys just get less effective with each second they are on screen. They bother Dani and she does the “I got my brother to beat my you up” shtick which embarrasses him
“Collect your Candy and get out of my life!”
Wow, what an asshole.
Thankfully, he apologies. ….Well, that was fast. They literally go from fighting to making up in the span of a minute!
They move on and end up at Allison’s house. As they talk, she mentions that her family owns the Sanderson cottage, now a museum. Three random witches from some legend are something to base a whole museum on?
It shut down a bit ago which makes them want to go there, because this is still a horror movie, even if it’s a kid’s movie. Max suggests this as a way to impress Allison, proving the power of Boners is very strong.
They head there and mess around with the museum stuff. They find the black flamed candle and Max is randomly attacked by a cat. Not doing the gag, sorry.
“It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus”
Because he a is dumb horror movie protagonist, he lights the candle and things go wrong right away. Well, at least they aren’t wasting our time. Indeed, the three witches come back from their long vacation. They waste no time in chewing a lot of scenery to make up for lost time.
Max and Allison hide but Dani shows herself and claims she lit the candle, because uh….she felt like it? This ends as well as you’d imagine as the witches try to capture her.
Max shows himself and gets his ass handed to him. Eh, wasn’t as funny the 2nd time. They hold them off and Thackery Binx (the guy from the opening) the cat tells him to take the spell book.
Yeah, nothing too weird here.
They escape and the witches make chase. I suppose now is the time I comment on the movie is so far since I haven’t said a lot in the past few minutes? …Eh, got no thoughts so far. Seems fine despite some weird stuff, and this kind of movie takes a while to get interesting anyway.
So let’s move on and see how it goes.
They kids go through the graveyard, and the cat says it’s a good idea because witches can’t set foot here. Huh, a graveyard that actually wards off evil? That’s new.
By the way, as expected the kids have no reaction to a talking cat and three witches popping up.
We cut to the witches who explain that they turn to dust when the sun comes up cuz they can only be here at this certain time, because of course. Add that to the “Kiddie Horror movie cliche” pile.
Oh, and yes we have some fish out of water jokes, I predict there will be even more so I’m just pointing it out now. They must find the spell book so they can fix this issue before the sun comes up.
Meanwhile, Thackery the Cat explains that he was cured with immortality as a cat, so he can’t die and reunite with his family. I see he will bring us the emotional back bone. Sure, I’m down with that.
So that’s our plot. Basic but it’s a decent set up and I do like the atmosphere. Let’s get going!
The witches show up and attack them. …Uh, what happened to “Witches can’t set foot here”?. They bring Winnifred’s old lover back to life as a zombie to catch the children. Because zombies are known for their speed?
(This was before fast zombies were a thing)
The kids run away and fall into the old Salem Crypt.
“Damn that Thackery Binx, Damn him!”
Hey watch it, before you pull out the S bomb!
While the zombie tries to catch the kids, the witches decide to head out to take some kids souls, since that will help the live longer and stuff. After some padding, a bus shows up for more fish out of water jokes. Eh, some of it is kind of amusing decide how overdone it is.
Also, the bus driver is hot for them. Not just Sara, all of them. Okay then. Then the bus runs over Thackery the Cat and kills him.
….Well this took a darn turn. ….But thankfully he comes back to life because he’s immortal. …That had a point to it.
The witches arrive at some neighborhood for some kid hunting, and see Modern Halloween for the first time. After more obvious jokes, the kids try to explain their ordeal to a cop and shock of all shockers, he doesn’t buy it. Yet another cliché to cross off the list.
The witches stupidly leave their brooms outside while they are talking to some guy and some little girls take them. The bit with them and that guy is weird so we’ll skip to when they go outside to see that their brooms have vanished.
Max and friends head to a party that his parents are at to get some help. They find Dad pretty quickly and Mom is dressed as Madonna because…90’s. They try to explain to their parents but ….just freaking guess what happens.
The witches conveniently found where the kids are and pop up. Max goes up to tell everyone there about what is going on and …..ugh, seriously, if you don’t what happens, you have never seen any movie ever.
They then launch a big spell…via a song. Yes, a fully produced musical number. It’s…pretty good, actually. I have a really soft spot for villains songs of all kinds, don’t I?
They do a curse thing, but the kids manage to lure the witches to a school, which is called a prison for kids, hardy har har. They also manage to get them into a kilm which burns them to death.
…Why is that in a school. …But anyway, no I won’t do that gag. We still got a ways to go, it’s a fake out. Although with some changes, we could have actually ended here, but whatever.
They do try their best to make us think this is the end, which is kind of lame. It just makes all of this pointless once your “clever” twist pops up. The kids head home, and decide to keep Binx the Cat as a pet.
Then boom, the witches come back, the very next minute. Then they kidnapp the bullies because ….why not. The witches do…witch stuff and we cut to Max waking up from a nap, and I forgot to mention that Allison, for whatever reason, did not go to her own home and just stayed at Max’ place and slept with him. …Not like that but with how it’s done it almost seems like it.
She does realize she has to go home but first they take a peek at the witches spell book, which they brought with them instead of burning it because….reasons. Binx wakes up and tells them not to do that, and they just stumble around and do nothing for a few minutes.
Thankfully, the witches barge in and steal the spell book and kidnap Dani and Binx. They also do the curb stomp the charging kid gag again because rule of 3. Well, now we have a solid set up for a likely disappointing climax.
Sara then uses a siren song thing to lure the children of the town to their cottage. It’s a nice little song, I suppose. It just makes me think about how weirdly hot she is in this.
Anyway, Allison figures out that the witches didn’t die because the spell made it so they stay alive until sunrise, when they die, unless they get some kiddie souls. They brought this up earlier, but it just hit me that this is another reason their spell was weird.
I mentioned how dumb it was then but now it’s really overly complicated and rather inconvenient on their side…but I suppose I can let it slide given it’s for the sake of the story. Plus I’ve bought dumber things before.
Max barges in to some the girl and cat.
“Prepare to die again”
Don’t forget to say Cheese first!
Max tricks them into thinking the sun is coming out due to Daylight Savings Time. They reel back in horror which gives them time to get the kidnapped characters and leave. Oh, and remember the bullies that got captured?
Yeah, they beg Max to free them…but he just takes their shoes and leaves them before. ….What the hell? What an asshole!
They escape but the witches quickly give chase. They end up in the Grave Yard where the Zombie guy betrays his witch master and joins the heroes. …Well that almost justified his scene from earlier.
“Go to hell!”
Max’s Dad would faint so hard at this.
Dani is then captured for the 2nd time in a row (she grows up to be Mary Jane, I guess) but Binx the cat manages to jump up and take this potion Winfired was trying to use to suck out Dani’s soul.
Max gets the potion and after some failed negotiations, he drinks it. If he dies, he’ll look pretty stupid. She frees Dani but takes Max, and they have a little spat up in the air. They fall down which causes Winifred to turn to stone, due to that Grave Yard Witch rule thing.
…Wait, NOW it takes effect?
On top of that, the sun comes out which kills the others. Hmm…eh, that Climax was okay. It was actually a bit too long, but I think it was played out okay enough to be somewhat satisfying.
Then, as the icing of this Death Cake, Binx dies. Thankfully the movie reminds us he was kind of supposed to die after the curse was finally lifted. His soul is finally free. Can’t help but be happy for him even though we didn’t know him to well outside of his backstory.
To make this even better, his sister pops up and they reunite. A bit overblown but I will allow it. They walk into the afterlife, as Binx apologizes for taking so damn long. Our heroes look at this sight, and smile over this big adventure.
….Hmmm…eh, a bit mixed. A cute and fine enough ending I suppose….but once again the nature of it shows how empty our leads were, since they got no payoff any arc. Ah well, good enough I suppose.
So in the end, where do I stand on this film? Is it a classic gem or a turd? ….It’s in the middle. As a whole, it was average. It’s not bad, and it’s almost decent, but it’s mostly just okay.
I suppose I’ll address the elephant in the room: The Virgin thing. A lot of people bring it up and Doug Walker pretty much based the film for saying the movie keeps saying that you’re a loser if you haven’t had sex or whatever.
I think…as usual, people are going crazy over nothing. Outside of it just being a plot device, they only bring it up ONE other time, and that’s with the cop guy. That’s it, unless I just missed something.
So I have no idea where people get that Sex message from. But I do feel it is a weird and pointless plot device.
With that out of the way, let’s go over the real problems. It’s incredibly cliché and goes through a lot of 90’s kids movie cliches. The story itself doesn’t go through any great twists, and hits every expect beat.
On top of that, the characters are very weak and don’t really go through any development. It seems like there might be something like with the love interest….but nope. They are pretty the same at the end as they were at the start.
To be fair, some of the cliches weren’t too huge back when this came out but that doesn’t excuse some of the other flaws. I’m saying this hasn’t aged too well. On the other hand, this is far from the worst offender of these cliches and there’s nothing to offensive about it.
Plus, it has some good parts that help make it somewhat enjoyable. The Halloween atmosphere is really strong and there are some fun and creative scenes here and there. I see why some see it as a Halloween Classic, because it works pretty well on that front.
And of course, the witches steal the show. Sure, some of their jokes are weak but they are trying so damn hard and that makes them pretty enjoyable. The rest of the acting is just….there, by the way.
It does have a few scenes of okay heart, mostly with Binx. Although I feel he wasn’t fleshed out too well. So the movie has a very weak story with bland characters, but has some creative elements, three fun characters, and some solid atmosphere.
It’s….alright. Script-wise it’s very typical with some cool bits here and there, but as a guilty pleasure, it’s not too bad. It can be fun in the right mood. If you have never seen it, then you might as well give it a hot if you like cheesy Halloween movies like this.
Otherwise, there are better options. I can think of tons of better Halloween kids movie that have all the good aspects of this film, without many of the bad. Infact, in terms of Disney Halloween movies, I’d recommend Halloweentown way more. …All of them.
I’m at glad I finally saw it. It was fun to review it. With that out of the way, tune in next week for some wild stuff. In the meantime, have a Happy Halloween!