Search This Blog

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hocus Pocus

All right, welcome to the first spooky entry of the SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES feature.  I know I promised this would happen last week, but you are probably aware that last week was kind of crazy.  To make it up to you, I have another movie post planned for this coming Wednesday.  And yes, it will definitely be Halloween themed.

In the meantime, for today's spooky entry, I thought we'd start things off slowly, and with each passing entry, the movie blogs would get scarier and scarier until the final movie entry.  After all, building up suspense is the best part of creating the perfect atmosphere for spookiness. 

At least, I'd like to believe that this is the case.

So, for today's blog entry, we're going to be featuring a G-rated film.  In fact, this film is one of those live-action Disney films that was released a little over twenty years ago.  And surprisingly enough, although the film could be considered a Halloween classic, it was released during the summer of 1993! 

It also happens to be one of the most requested films in our electronics section of the store I work at currently.  In fact, allow me to tell you a story about this movie.

Now, I'm still fairly new to the world of electronics.  I've only been in that department since July of 2013, so a little over a year.  While I consider myself to be more knowledgeable in most devices in that particular year (just don't ask me any questions about Android phones, GPS devices, or security cameras as I have absolutely no idea how any of those things work), when I first began in electronics, there was only one area of the department I felt comfortable in.

DVD's and Blu-Ray movies.

Seriously, my nickname at work is the "Matt-abase" because whenever customers ask me if we have a movie in stock, 99% of the time, I can tell them with certainty whether we have the movie at the store or if they have to go somewhere else to find it.  I'm up to date on movie releases, and am fairly confident in knowing whether a movie is out of print or has even been released on DVD or Blu-Ray.  And if a movie is not available in the store, they could usually find the movie on the store website which they could order directly from the site. 

So, last Halloween, I couldn't believe the number of people who were looking for a particular movie for their Halloween celebrations.  And last year, we did NOT have this movie in stock.  Sure, we had other Halloween movies to choose from, but for some reason we did not carry this one. 

Which absolutely shocked me because with the movie being released on July 16, 1993, I would have sworn that a 20th anniversary edition would have been released. 

Well, I guess my store learned from that lesson because currently at my store, we have approximately two dozen copies available for purchase in two different areas of the electronics department.  I suppose a 21st anniversary celebration is just as good as a 20th.

So, today we're going to have a look at the movie "Hocus Pocus", a Disney film directed by Kenny Ortega.  Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, the movie depicts the events that take place when three witches are brought back to Earth after a three hundred year slumber to cause a whole lot of trouble in the community of Salem, Massachusetts.

Yes, that's right.  Salem, Massachusetts.  The town that hosted the infamous Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s.  Back in those days, witchcraft was a serious offense, punishable by death.  And when I say death, I mean the most painful deaths ever.  Some were burned at a stake, while others were drowned.  It certainly wasn't worth anybody's while to be suspected of being a witch back in 1693.

Especially if the witches were as dangerous and wicked as the Sanderson Sisters.  Winifred (Midler), Mary (Najimy), and Sarah (Parker) were definitely not relatives of Glinda in "The Wizard of Oz".  More like cousins of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The movie begins in the year 1693 when a young teenage boy named Thackery Binx (Sean Murray of NCIS fame) finds himself in a bit of a quandary.  His sister Emily (Jodie Rivera) has been kidnapped by the Sanderson Sisters for one reason alone - to absorb Emily's life force so that they can stay forever young.  Naturally, Binx tries to save Emily, but ends up failing in his quest.  Emily's life force is drained after the witches transform Binx into an immortal black cat.  The sisters are eventually captured by a mob of angry people and are sentenced to death by hanging (I knew I was forgetting a method of witchicide up above), but not before Winifred casts a spell which will grant all three sisters the power to be resurrected at a future date.  All they would need is for a "virgin" to light a black-flamed candle on Halloween night.  But with Binx being condemned to live out all eternity as a black cat, it's up to him to guard the former Sanderson cottage to prevent someone else from bringing the sisters back to life - a job he holds for three hundred years...

...that is until October 31, 1993.

Three hundred years later, a teenage boy named Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is having a really difficult time of things.  His family has recently moved to Salem from Los Angeles and he is feeling very homesick.  Although he has befriended a young girl named Allison (Vinessa Shaw), he has to deal with a couple of bullies named Ernie and Jay (Larry Bagby and Tobias Jelinek) who consistently make his life a living...well, you know.

To make matters worse, instead of having fun on Halloween night, Max is forced to take his little sister Dani (Thora Birch) out trick-or-treating while their parents attend a Halloween party. 

Interestingly enough, Dani is the one who sets the events in motion, as she convinces Max and Allison to go with her to explore the Sanderson cottage.  She had read a lot about them and wanted to learn more about them, and reluctantly, Max and Allison agree to do some investigating in which they come across the enchanted candle.

Can you guess what happens next?

Well, the witches are revived, Binx appears and helps Max gain possession of Winifred's spell book, and this prompts a chase of epic proportions between the Sanderson Sisters and the three teenagers who accidentally reopened a three hundred year old mystery.

Along the way, the witches cast a spell that puts the entire adult population of Salem out of commission for the rest of the night, and the witches only have one goal in find a child, kill them, and use their life force to remain on Earth forever.  And how fortunate it was for them that the Sanderson Sisters came across three children who resurrected them from the dead? 

In fact, Winifred had one trick up her sleeve - resurrecting her old boyfriend Billy (Doug Jones) from the dead to help her in her quest to live forever.  However, there a sticky family secret in the Sanderson family tree, and poor zombified Billy happens to be the missing piece of the puzzle.  And when one of the children happens to be kidnapped by the Sanderson Sisters, will Max be able to keep his wits together and stop the witches once and for all?

You know what?  I'm going to leave you with that thought as we head into the trivia portion of the blog.

1 - This film was originally intended to be a made-for-TV movie for The Disney Channel, but Walt Disney Studios felt the script was strong enough to warrant a theatrical release.

2 - Bette Midler has said that "Hocus Pocus" was "the most fun I'd had in my career up to that point".

3 - The film is set in Salem, Massachusetts, but only some of the exterior shots were actually filmed in Salem.

4 - The movie is widely considered a cult classic by fans all over the world.

5 - Interestingly enough, on the show "Who Do You Think You Are?", Sarah Jessica Parker (who played Sarah Sanderson) discovered that one of her relatives was accused of witchcraft!

6 - Leonardo DiCaprio was offered the role of Max, but turned it down - he had already committed to "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"

7 - There's one scene in which Doug Jones spits out moths out of his mouth.  That wasn't digitally enhanced in any way.  Those were REAL moths!

8 - Although Sean Murray played the human form of Binx, his dialogue was dubbed over by actor Jason Marsden - the voice actor of the feline Binx.

9 - Omri Katz was under the weather when he auditioned for the role of Max and nearly didn't get the part as a result!

10 - Rosie O'Donnell was offered the part of one of the Sanderson Sisters, but turned it down as she didn't want to play the part of a scary witch.

11 - Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall have uncredited cameos in this movie - playing a husband and wife at the party!

12 - The soundtrack was supposed to feature a song by Roxette, "Almost Unreal".  The song instead was featured in "Super Mario Bros."

13 - Charles Rocket - who played Mr. Dennison in the film - tells Max to "watch his language".  It was Rocket who sent audiences into a tailspin for dropping an F-bomb on "Saturday Night Live" in February 1981.

14 - Take a look at the three little girls who steal the witches brooms.  Do their costumes look familiar to you?

And, so wraps up the first of several spooky film blogs.  And admittedly, we started off on a tame note.  The rest won't be so.  This I promise you.  

No comments:

Post a Comment