Some Halloween movies are just perfect.
Perhaps not perfect as movies but perfect movies for that season and Hocus Pocus is definitely one of those.
The film sees Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimi play the Sanderson Sisters, a trio of witches from Salem who thrive on stealing the lifeforce from children. One day, they are hung after essentially murdering a child and turning some kid into a cat (talk about a busy day) but a curse on the town prophesizes their deadly return.
Cut to 300 years later and some idiot kid gets the bright idea to light the black fire candle which brings the witches back to present day (well, 1993) Salem. The latter have one night to recover their beloved spell book and feed some potion to whatever virgin they can get their hands on otherwise they're gone for good so the race is on. Cue quite a few Dark Shadows-style temporal fish-out-of-water jokes, a lot of Halloween-related shenanigans and the usual clichés that come with most early 90's family movies: suburbia, bullies, teen romance, talking cats, friendly zombies... the usual.
Bette Midler is at her most over-the-top as the head witch sporting a truly remarkable and truly orange haircut and some, shall we say, prominent front teeth? It's a performance worthy of panto but it somehow works brilliantly in this movie so even when she suddenly breaks into a song (it IS Bette Midler, after all) it doesn't come off as out of place at all. Sarah Jessica Parker, meanwhile, doesn't get much to do besides being the pretty, dumb one of the bunch and singing children to their inevitable doom in one of the film's most memorable moments. Also do look out for a young and decidedly adorable Thora Birch as Omri Katz's little sister.
There are endless reasons why Hocus Pocus is a perfect Halloween movie and why it was one of my favourites as a kid: it's surprisingly macabre at times, very funny throughout, completely entertaining and packed with colourful Halloween iconography, not to mention a kid dressed-up like Sonic The Hedgehog and Doug Jones once again playing a cool character covered head to toe in make-up.
It's frankly odd that the film received such negative reviews upon its release, especially compared to the super-popular Sister Act, since this is one harmless, fun, festive little film kids and adults alike should enjoy.