Blu-Ray Review: Hocus Pocus

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Features, The Disney Review

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Published on September 08, 2012 at 12:02 am with 10 Comments

There are a lot of films, Disney and otherwise, that I remember watching fondly as a kid. Most of the time, when revisiting them, I can recall how much I enjoyed them and carry out that feeling. Other times, I’m surprised I was able to sit through it to begin with.

Hocus Pocus lies somewhere in the middle.

Released in 1993, the film was a Halloween-themed comedy that centered on Max, who accidently resurrects The Sanderson Sisters, a trio of witches who were hanged for their crimes in 1693. The witches return to steal all the children in Salem, and what better time to do so than Halloween?

I was 10 at the time of the film’s release, and Halloween had just become (and still continues to be) my favorite holiday, so of course I was all about this film. Not to mention that Max was played by Omri Katz, who also starred in my favorite television show at the time, Eerie, Indiana.

My rose colored nostalgia glasses didn’t hold up too well when watching this film again. It certainly shows its age and its corniness, but not in the endearing way that most Disney films do. Even Binx, the cat, looks like a cheap imitation of Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch…and even HE looked cheap. This is obviously a movie that is aimed at kids, so I have no doubt that your little ones will undoubtedly enjoy every minute of it. Adults, on the other hand, may not be so thrilled.

The lead kids, played by Omri Katz, Thora Birch, and Vinessa Shaw, act just like you’d expect kids too. There is nothing spectacular about their performance quite honestly. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Sanderson Sisters. Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Bette Midler all seem to be having the most fun in their roles. They really let loose and get silly. I think the dialogue between them is the best in the entire film, and it really shows off their comedy chops.

Since this is the film’s first time on Blu-Ray (available now), I was curious to see how the transfer looked on High-Definition. I was mildly surprised, considering some film stock from the early 90s isn’t the best. The picture looked fairly crisp, but wasn’t anything spectacular. Still, it looked better than I expected it to be.

The pack is bare bones, though, with no special features of note.

Bottom line, if your kids like movies based around Halloween, then you should pick this up. Otherwise, it may be better to revisit this one as a rental, or perhaps not at all.


By Jeff Heimbuch

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You’re invited . . .

Many of you know that George Taylor and Jeff Heimbuch are hosting a 30th anniversary celebration for Epcot. Unfortunately tickets have completely sold out.  HOWEVER, some of MiceChat’s finest have created two new events with plenty of room for everyone . . . a FREE scavenger hunt at Epcot and a Food and Wine Festival event. We’d love to see you!

Epcot 30th Anniversary FREE MiceQuest – Sept 29, 2012
Join MiceChat’s Kevin Yee and the Communicore Weekly crew for a FREE fun-filled scavenger hunt game celebrating Epcot’s 30th Anniversary.  The Quest, designed by Kevin Yee, is fun for the whole family and will take place on the Mexico side of World Showcase from 3:30pm until 6:30pm on September 29th, 2012.  Create a team of 1-4 people, and compete for the title of biggest Epcot geek. Fun prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

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Enjoy a leisurely stroll around World Showcase with your favorite MiceChatters, sampling the food and wine offerings of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival along the way. You will be given a lanyard with a marker attached so that you can record your progress as you tour the world of food and drink! Guests who desire to partake of the adult beverages will also be given a small glass to conveniently share “sips” during our journey.  Come spend some quality time with other foodies and the best online Disney community on Earth! To reserve your place at this year’s Sip & Nibble event purchase your ticket today for just $3.99. Please click through for full event details.

About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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  • Zeathos51

    I tend to filter out the bad in movies and remember them in my own way. While the heroins are not as steriotypically bad as other family movies, they are not very fun to follow. As a result, I will write the way I would’ve liked to see this movie end.

    The Sanderson sisters kill Max and take over the town, bringing fear to the world as they slowly use their magic to enslave everyone. Now that would be fun.

    I’ll admit, I still like this movie but mainly for the great acting by the villians, not including the two stoners at the beginning. I’m always sad when the witches die.

    Otherwise, great review. Keep up the great work.

    PS: While it is one of the best scenes in the movie, it’s wierd to see Penny Marshal and Gary Marshal as a married couple.

  • wedway

    Although not as much a commercial success in its theatrical run, Hocus Pocus has developed a huge following over the years on home video. So much so that Disney is now considering a television sequel to it. I have to disagree with your review in that this film is not as endearing as other Disney titles. If anything, it reminds us of the type of films the studio used to make. Would this film be green-lit now in the era of tent-pole big budget franchise films? Probably not, If Hocus Pocus were produced today it would have been for 1/8 of its original budget, would not have near the star power, and would have wound up in nauseating rotation on The Disney Channel.

    In regards to your comments of Binx looking fake, I don’t know how you compare the effects of the character to the television show Sabrina The Teenage Witch. The film makers actually computer animated the facial features of Binx in the film. In fact, it was one of the earlier examples on film of rotoscoping CGI over animals. Remember, this was 1993 and we were just wowed with what CGI could do with Jurassic Park. I never remembered Sabrina using CGI. Just an animatronic.

    Bette Midler has been quoted as saying she has never had as much fun making a film as she did making “Hocus Pocus”. It definitely shows as your review reflects the three Sanderson sisters hamming it up throughout the film. While Hocus Pocus isn’t going to win any awards for acting, it should win an award as a film that you can definitely watch every year with children of all ages, and remember how much fun Halloween can be. Nowadays with so many films resorting to cheap gore, family Halloween titles are few and far between. Of course there is a notable exception this year with ParaNorman, Hotel Translvania and Frankenweenie.

  • unclemike

    I hated this movie in 1993 and I hate it now.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    It’s a terrible film. But I loved the three lead actresses so much that I really didn’t mind. This film is a great example of the crap Disney was churning out at that time and hoping people would buy due to the Disney name and the star power of the actors involved.

  • GhostHostJeff

    I love this movie! Let’s be realistic, the movie is almost 20 years old and of course it’s going to show its age. I remembering watching this movie in the theatre with my dad at the age of 4 and I watch it constantly throughout the year. The thing about this review is it’s mostly on a review of the story itself, which most of us know. I would have liked to see more of a review based on the Blue Ray itself.

  • Athlonacon

    I can’t believe all the negativity towards this film… it is a classic! It’s so well written, it’s funny, scary, sad, happy, and all of the above. The great thing about it is it doesn’t take itself seriously, it jokes around the entire time but isn’t afraid to get truly scary either.

    And it may just be my opinion up there, but here’s a fact: every October that film has an impossibly long wait time that doesn’t let up until November. So *someone* besides me is still watching it today.

  • Rex Dopey24

    i love thaat movie and its awesome. and it is a great halloween movie during in sept and october.

  • Crazee4mm

    This is one of those films where the finished product had almost zero resemblance to what was in the script. After the film was finished, it was edited, edited again, and re-edited to the point where it is now a children’s film. I remember hearing a lot of stories about it being sooo much better in it’s original version. THAT is the version I would love to see!

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