Hocus Pocus facts and secrets

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Since its release, Hocus Pocus has brought a whole new community of cult fanatics into the world, and it’s fair to say that they know every single line of this script. However, that doesn’t mean certain nuggets of information get lost in the drama and the comedy. We don’t think that even the hardcore fanatics would know some of these Hocus Pocus facts and secrets.

Feeling a little spiky

One of the most iconic movie moments of all time occurs within Hocus Pocus. We just can’t forget the scene where the Sanderson sisters are sent to sleep with the fishes in a fiery public display, and there are certain aspects that just stand out more than most.

In fact, we can’t help but focus on the fact that the executioner is wearing a leather ensemble complete with metal studs. This executioner must be a part-time time-traveler as well because there’s no way that this kind of outfit could be found in 1690s Salem.

Getting your spook on

No story involving witches would be complete without involving the city of Salem, Massachusetts. While we know that Hocus Pocus takes place in Salem, very little of the movie was actually filmed in the infamously spooky city.

One of the only scenes to be filmed in Salem takes place in Ropes Mansion – which makes its debut as Allison’s house. In the movie, the house is pretty darn scary, and it seems as though this wasn’t just for show. It’s believed the Ropes Mansion is haunted in real life by its former occupants.

Zachary or Thackery?

While he might not exactly be human, the black cat in Hocus Pocus has a major part to play in the Sanderson sisters’ lives. Although he may have failed in keeping the witches hidden from the world, it’s fair to say that this black cat also failed in terms of his name.

That’s because many Hocus Pocus fans have been calling him by the wrong name since its release. Many people assume that his name is Zachary, but that’s just not true. Instead, he is called Thackery Binx.

Like butter wouldn’t melt

The Sanderson sisters are way ahead of the times in Hocus Pocus, and it seems as though they’re not always cooking up spells. In one particular scene, the sisters decide to use margarine within their cooking.

While many of us use this butter substitute in our own cooking, it’s a little odd that the sisters were able to use it within theirs. After all, this ingredient first came to prominence in the 19th Century – years after the Sanderson Sisters would have faced the trial and executioner. You know, until ol’ Max Dennison decides to resurrect them from the underworld.

Road to nowhere

Although there was no way that the Sanderson sister could know what margarine was, let alone use it in their cooking, there was one thing the movie got right.

During one scene, we learn of the sisters’ confusion when they discuss the invention of ‘blacktop.’ Rightfully so, the witches have absolutely no idea what this is or what it’s used for. That’s because asphalt was first used on roads during the 1800s. This meant that they would have had no recollection of it ever being used in the 1600s!

It takes two to Thackery

Now that we know the black cat in Hocus Pocus was actually called Thackery, we can learn a little more about the human Thackery. Like in many other Hollywood movies, the producer decided to use two separate people to create the on-screen character and the voice of this cat.

Sean Murray was originally roped in to enact the live-action parts of the movie, while Jason Marsden was later brought in to dub over Murray’s lines because they thought his voice was just too modern for the historical movie. We would never have guessed.

Hanging by the wire

In today’s day and age, movies enlist the help of CGI and special effects to create movie magic – but that wasn’t always the case. In 1993, graphics and special effects were a little more rusty, and they were often spotted by eagle-eyed fans.

That’s exactly what happened in Hocus Pocus when the witches were riding their broomsticks. On numerous occasions, you could spot the wire that was holding them up while they were flying through the air. Even SJP couldn’t avoid hanging by the wire on this occasion.

A little foggy

If you’ve ever had the time to really look into the details within Hocus Pocus, you might have noticed that some things don’t add up. In fact, you could say things are a little foggy. That’s because this movie is supposed to take place on All Hallows Eve in 1993.

If you look back in your calendars, you’ll see that this day was a Sunday. So, why was Max at school on a Sunday? However, the inaccuracies don’t end there. The sisters could only be resurrected during a full moon, but there was no full moon on Halloween 1993…

All eyes on Bette

Although Hocus Pocus helped to highlight the careers of Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, there’s no denying the fact that all eyes were on Bette Midler during this performance.

It’s perhaps one of her most famous movies to date, and it seems as though we’re not the only ones who love her portrayal of Winnie. Bette has noted that she is incredibly proud of her Hocus Pocus performance and that it’s one of her most beloved and most favourite roles to date. We couldn’t agree more, Bette!

Keeping it in the family

No Halloween movie would be complete without trick or treating, and the Sanderson sisters get their first glimpse of this tradition during one particular scene.

However, this doesn’t go down too well when they see one husband don his red horns and his red cape. That’s because they think he’s the real deal, and they think they actually are staring into the eyes of the devil. In real life, the husband and wife couple they stumble across are actually played by actors who are brother and sister. We guess it was a family outing.

A pop culture reference

It’s fair to say that Bette Midler is a living legend, and she has put her name to countless movies in the past. Because of this, those behind the scenes decided to add a little pop culture reference into the script to highlight her talent.

While those who watched this movie as children might not have picked up on it, the line where Winnie says, “Hello, my name is Winifred. What’s yours?” is a link to the almost-identical line that appeared in Bette’s famous musical, Gypsy. After all, her character of Mama Rose can’t be forgotten.

The Zippo effect

It’s no secret that Max is a pretty big deal in Hocus Pocus, but it seems as though he also has the ability to magic lighter fluid from thin air! Either that or something just doesn’t add up within this movie.

After making his way into the museum, Max just happens to stumble across an old Zippo lighter that he immediately flicks on. Amazing, right? If the lighter had been there since the museum had closed, the fluid would have evaporated, and if it was a new lighter, there would have been no fluid in there at all.

Getting Leo onboard

It’s almost impossible to imagine Hocus Pocus with a different cast, but that’s exactly what we could be watching today if things had gone differently. That’s because the producer didn’t want Kathy Najimy or Omri Katz to take on the roles of Mary Sanderson and Max Dennison.

Instead, they offered the roles to Rosie O’Donnell and Leonardo DiCaprio. Both actors turned the roles down, but we have a feeling that they are probably now regretting that decision. It’s a shame because we would have loved to have seen young Leo in Salem.

Riding the bus

Sarah Jessica Parker is a huge asset to the Hocus Pocus cast, and we don’t think we’ll ever forget the scene where she sits on the lap of the bus driver and uses her charm to drive the bus herself.

As we get a closer look at the side of the bus, we see that they are riding the Salem Bus Lines – which didn’t exist at the time! In 1993, those who lived in Boston hadn’t yet got their own bus line. Instead, they were using the Boston buses. So, where the heck did the Salem Bus Lines come from?

The witches of Oz

Magical movies about witches aren’t exactly uncommon in Hollywood, but there are few that have stood the test of time. Like Hocus Pocus, The Wizard of Oz has also become a cult classic and since become one of the most famous movies of all time.

In fact, many fans have noted that there could be a connection between the two movies. Like Dorothy’s ever-changing hair length in the film, Sarah Sanderson’s hair is often straight one minute, and curly the next. While there’s no confirmation of this link, we really hope it exists.

A cult classic

Nowadays, Hocus Pocus is known for being a Halloween cult classic. It’s one of the most famous Halloween movies out there, so it might surprise you to learn that its numbers weren’t all that special.

Because Hocus Pocus was released in July 1993, it was a little early to the spooky game. Yet, it seems as though this was the best option for this movie because later that year the likes of Addams Family Values and The Nightmare Before Christmas were released. With no summer competition, Hocus Pocus couldn’t get lost.

I almost didn’t put a spell on you

One of the most incredible Hocus Pocus scenes ever created has to be the musical number. A movie about witches who sing and dance? What more could you really want?

When David Kirschner, the writer of the original novel, heard that the producer wanted to add this musical number, he wasn’t too happy about it. He thought that the song would ruin the movie completely, and he wanted it to be removed. However, he has now hypothetically eaten his hat, because he thinks it was a great addition to the story.

Can I see your license?

There are certain aspects of Hocus Pocus that simply make you scratch your head and wonder what the heck is going on. This was true during one particular scene, where Winnie asks to see Max’s driving license.

While this isn’t an unusual question to hear in modern-day life, it certainly is an unusual question for someone who has been resurrected after a whopping 300 years. We have a hunch that driver’s licenses weren’t around during that time, considering cars weren’t invented. They weren’t even close to being invented at this point in history!

Put on your dancing shoes

Billy Butcherson is the kind of character that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alleyway. After all, we don’t know many decomposed bodies that still somehow have their skin attached to them.

To match the role of Billy to the actor who would eventually step into his skeletal shoes, the producer decided to ask the actors to put on their dancing shoes. Because he only has one line, Billy’s character is portrayed through his movements. In the end, Doug Jones had the right kind of movements to win the part.

A furry, purry friend

Thackery Binx is a fairly unusual character within Hocus Pocus. Most notably, because he’s a cat who was once a young boy. Get your head around that. While it’s no secret that working on movie sets with real animals can be a hassle, the producer managed to find a way around these troubles.

As well as using many different furry and purry friends to play Thackery, they also enlisted the help of animatronics when they wanted Thackery to display more human tendencies. As they got to know all of these different cats, they knew which one would be perfect for each scene.

Cursing is not an option

Although Billy the Zombie didn’t get a huge opportunity to test out his vocal chords, he did get the chance to insult Winifred Sanderson.

The original script actually had Billie cursing at the Sanderson sister, but Doug Jones didn’t feel as though this was appropriate for a movie that would be seen by kids across the world. He spoke of his concerns to the director, and they decided to change it. Thanks to this, we were able to hear the famous line: “Wench! Trollop! You buck-toothed, mop-riding, firefly from hell!”

The trials were over

When you think of Hocus Pocus, there’s a high chance that you link the events of this movie to the Salem Witch Trials. After all, this movie involves witches, it takes place in Salem, and these supposed witches are hanged like many other witches during this period.

However, if you keep up to date with your dates, you’ll know that the Sanderson sisters were supposedly tried on Halloween 1693. What’s confusing about this little nugget of information is that the Salem Witch Trials came to an end in 1692.

A ghost in a shell?

Thackery Binx is the kind of character who will always confuse you. Not only is he a cat, but he’s also a former human who is hundreds of years old. This begs the question of; is Thackery really alive? Or is he a ghost?

There are numerous hints towards his ghostly presence within the movie, and this is especially true when he seemingly jumps through a fence that is much too small for him to jump through. Yet, this also brings up even more questions. Is he the ghost of a cat? Or the ghost of a human? We’ll let you decide.

Moths in the mouth

As Billie the Zombie rises from the ground, we all had a good ol’ laugh when we saw the moths fly out of his mouth. Yet, what you might not have realized is that these were not fake moths at all.

They were completely and 100% real! Doug Jones had to hold a device on his mouth so that the moths would not make their way down his throat while they were in there. We can imagine he was pretty happy to be able to cut open his mouth and let the moths out after all that time.

A different movie

Hocus Pocus is such a fun movie, and it’s clear the stars are the Sanderson sisters, but in another version of it we could have had a lot more of them.

Kathy Najimi, known in the movie as Mary Sanderson, revealed that originally the film was supposed to center around the witches much more. However, after filming it, Disney decided to change things around because they wanted to help give the film a more family friendly appeal and include the children a bit more.

Vinessa Shaw was jumping between sets

When Vinessa Shaw signed on to do Hocus Pocus she knew she would be in for a lot of hard work, particularly because she was also signed on to the show Home Improvement as Allison.

Both the movie and show were filming at the same time, and she often had to run between sets. But because of her, the young cast of Hocus Pocus, and the kids on Home Improvement all became friends with one another, and would hang out during breaks.

Recycling costumes

Being that the movie takes place during Halloween, there are some pretty awesome costumes that we get to see throughout the film. However, the film’s costume designer, Mary Vogt, later shared that she had reused a number of costumes from other movies, including other Disney movies.

In the scene where Bette Midler is serenading all the grownups under her spell, you may spot some of them wearing movies like Tron, Treasure Island, The Island At the Top of the World, The Sword and The Rose, and even from Gypsy.

Tight budget

The reason for reusing the costumes wasn’t just because they were conscientious of being wasteful. Mary Vogt also revealed that the film’s costume budget was limited, and most of that money was spent on the costumes for the witches.

So, when it came to the costumes for the rest of the cast she had to get a little creative. Many of them became DIY projects, which is why the mom in the movie, Jenny, has a homemade looking Madonna costume. Looking back she feels embarrassed by the quality of some of the costumes.

Practice was intense

The cast couldn’t just start filming right away, instead they had to practice all the choreography for the dancing, singing, and flying for almost a month. The director of the film, Kenny Ortega, took choreography pretty seriously, which should come as no surprise.

After all, Ortega is known for directing a number of musical movies including Disney’s Newsies and High School Musical franchise, so we know he’s the expert on this sort of thing. But one thing is clear, all that practice definitely paid off.

The big pitch

When writer and producer David Kirschner went to pitch the movie to Disney, he held nothing back. He showed up with tons of Halloween decorations to help set the scene.

He hung witch brooms from the ceiling, put up drawings of black cats, and handed out candy corn to everyone in the room. He was so passionate and convincing that as he was leaving the building after the meeting, an executive ran after him and told him they wanted the movie. Here you can see him with his face being held by Doug Jones.

Personal connection

Playing the role of Sarah Sanderson was lots of fun for Sarah Jessica Parker, but years after she had filmed the movie she discovered an incredible personal connection to the movie.

While participating in the series, Who Do You Think You Are, Parker learned that she had an ancestor who had been accused of witchcraft in the late 1600s in Salem, Massachusetts. Thankfully, her ancestor’s case was never tried and she managed to survive the ordeal, but Parker was very moved by the story, especially after playing an accused witch herself years earlier.

Ties to Halloween

Hocus Pocus might be a movie intended for kids and families, but that doesn’t mean that Disney wouldn’t throw in some older references for the adults in the audience.

During the scene where the sister are at the Devil’s house, you might remember a child trick or treating in front of it. You may notice that he’s wearing a clown costume with a Michael Myers mask, also known as the main villain from the Halloween movie franchise. It was their way of making a small nod to another Halloween themed movie.

Statues of Bette

If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll remember the scene towards the end when the sun rises and Bette Midler’s character is turned into stone before exploding.

Well, filming this scene with all the effects took a lot more effort than it might look like. The set designers had to make seven statues of Bette Midler in order to get the entire look just right for the scene. If you want to see one of them, you can find it in a restaurant in Orlando, Florida at Planet Hollywood.

The famous fountain

Once we see the Sanderson sisters defeated, the kids are all pretty excited and decide to celebrate.

Dani and Allison do a little dance in front of a fountain, but what you may not know is this particular fountain became pretty famous later in the ‘90s. You might not recognize it without the couch and lamp, but that very same fountain is the one that was used in the opening credits for the hit show Friends, making it a pretty iconic location.

Rough reception

Even though Hocus Pocus has all the makings of a hit film, when it was first released it did not receive a warm reception. It didn’t do as well as hoped, and critics were fairly negative in their reviews.

Some felt that Bette Midler was lowering herself by appearing in a kid’s movie, while others felt that it was just entirely too cheesy. One reviewer commented that even though it had top notch actresses it just couldn’t measure up, and it wouldn’t be the “Sister Act of 1993.”

Living on in pop culture

Despite the harsh criticism that the film received, it still developed a huge fan base over the years, and has since become a must watch of every Halloween season.

Not just that, but it has become a staple in Halloween pop culture, with many using it as inspiration in lots of current work. YouTube star Todrick Hall made a hilarious parody of it in 2015, and Rachel Bloom made a reference to it in her show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend during a song where the singers demand that “all citizens must watch Hocus Pocus.”

Experiencing the magic at Disneyland

Plenty of Disney movies end up with their own rides or shows at Disney theme parks, so it is only fitting that Hocus Pocus get that chance as well. In 2015, Disneyland introduced a show during the fall that starred the Sanderson sisters as something fun at the park before Halloween.

This year the title of the show is called Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and once again it will feature the Sanderson sisters. The sisters will host the show, as well as bring on other popular villains to delight the audience.

Anniversary event

Are you ready to feel old? In July 2018, Hocus Pocus turned 25! In early October the cast and crew of the movie all came together for the ultimate reunion, but the best part is that they are sharing their anniversary celebration with all of their fans.

Just in time for Halloween, on October 20, Freeform is set to air a 90 minute anniversary special. Most of the original cast made the reunion including Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw, and Thora Birch.

Legacy

Hocus Pocus has undoubtedly become an iconic part of pop culture and has a massive cult following.

In early October, Freeform began airing the film as a way to gear up and prepare audiences for the big 25th anniversary special coming later in the month, and just within one week it reached over 8.2 million views. Every Halloween you can find fans dressing up in their best Sanderson sisters costumes or settling in to re-watch the movie. It’s certainly no wonder that people have been clamoring for a sequel.

Rumors of a sequel

Here’s something that is bound to knock your informational socks off. There have been talks that a Hocus Pocus 2 will soon be coming out – and it’s all because of this promo poster that has been making rounds across the web.

This has made fans extremely excited, but there’s a bit of an problem – rumor has it that the original cast won’t be in it. Indeed, chances are that if a new Hocus Pocus enters our lives, it will be with a brand new cast of spellcasting witches.

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