Hocus Pocus Review

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Three witches are magically imprisoned after ridding two children of their souls, however in modern day America a young boy accidentally sets them free. The three go on the rampage after discovering that if they rid every child of their soul that night, which naturally happens to be Hallowe'en, then they will live forever.


In colonial Salem, Mass., three wicked but inept witch sisters are hanged on Hallowe'en night after they've sucked the life out of a little girl and turned her brother into an immortal cat. In 1993, teen Max (Omri Katz) is forced to take his sister Dani (Thora Birch) trick-or-treating and winds up lighting a magic candle which, because he's a virgin, brings back buck-toothed Winifred (Midler), mooncalf Mary (Najimy) and seductress Sarah (Parker). The witches have just one night to take the souls of the town's children so that they can live forever.

Though this is the first Walt Disney family comedy to feature a decapitated zombie with his lips sewn shut, it rather uncomfortably falls back on the supernatural slapstick of Blackbeard's Ghost or Bedknobs And Broomsticks. The plot unravels like an old cardigan as the three sisters fail to make much of an impression: Midler finds an excuse to sing I Put A Spell On You at the Hallowe'en hop; Najimy, the funny-squeaky nun from Sister Act, repeats her shtick in a witchy mode; and Parker, who comes off marginally better than the others, imitates Carol Kane's violent fairy from Scrooged.

This has an un-Disneylike malicious streak but is handicapped by an inability to let its hags be as seriously scary or menacing as, say, Anjelica Huston was in The Witches. The three stars do endless variations on the E.T. gag of being taken for Hallowe'en celebrants in costume and regularly squeak silliness at each other, while the bland teenage good guys keep reminding them of the race-till-dawn story.

Trying to break expectations isn't always a wise idea and here Disney show how not to do it. With this supposed-family movie, they disappoint on nearly every level. The plot is weak, the action poor and it's got Bette Midler, simply dreadful.