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copyright ©1999-2006

the witching hour: halloween chick flicks
by Kiera Tara O'Brien |
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continued from page 2

buy the DVD

flick pick | Hocus Pocus 1993
Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Written by: David Kirschner (story), Mick Garris (story and screenplay), Neil Cuthbert (screenplay)
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Thora Birch, Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy/fantasy/family
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  feel-good, dumb but fun
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fright factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Back in the 1600s, the Sanderson sisters of Salem, Massachusetts were awfully fond of bewitching young children and stealing their lifeforce in a bid to stay young and beautiful forever. When little Emily Binx was taken away to the witches’ woodland home, her teenage brother Thackery came, rather ineffectively, to her rescue. Poor Thackery was transformed into an immortal black cat to suffer with his loss, while the Sanderson sisters were finally captured and hung before the rightfully angry citizens of Salem. Before their unpleasant end, though, their faithful book of spells revealed a curse that would return them all from the dead on All Hallow’s Eve when a virgin lit their sacred Black Flame Candle. Skip forward 300 years and young Max Dennison is Salem’s newest resident. Unfortunately for Max, his Californian attitude doesn’t blow over too well in the neighborhood on Halloween, and his pest of a sister, Dani, insists on trick-or-treating together. Just when he gets a crack at Allison, the girl of his dreams, while on the trick-or-treating rounds, Max discovers and lights the Black Flame, bringing Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson back to terrorize the town. On their mission to steal the lifeforces of Salem’s modern-day children before dawn turns them to dust, the ladies must recover their magic book from Max and figure out how to ride the bus to boot. Together with Binx, the immortal cat version of Thackery, Max, Dani and Allison try to outwit and outrun the crazy sisters before Salem succumbs to their evil plan forever!

Review Hocus Pocus is a feel-good Halloween film from the Disney enterprise. All the Halloween essentials are covered, from trick-or-treaters to zombies waking from the dead. Add a hilarious, slapstick chase around town on buses, cycles, mops and vacuum cleaners and you’ll have fun, fun, fun until Daddy takes the broomstick away. Midler, Najimy and Parker have a Three Stooges style about them that can’t be beat. With such a powerful trio of well-known actresses, it would have been easy for the young modern-day nemeses played by Katz, Birch and Shaw to be overshadowed a bit. The wisecracking youths manage to hold their own from start to finish, though, grabbing their own comic moments and generally kicking some 17th century butt. The costuming is dramatic and colorful (way above the K-mart standards of many flimsy Halloween get ups) and makes you want to hop a plane and head straight to Salem for the frills and rich fabrics of the festivities! But, of course, what kind of a Disney movie would this be without a sing-a-long song or two? Get the legendary Midler to belt out a groovy version of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ and it’s an irrefutable hit.


Kiera Tara O'Brien loves to write bewitching tales for magazines around the globe. About to migrate from Oslo to London, her former haunts include San Diego, Australia and Chile. She thinks SJP is the sexiest witch of them all and bemoans the lack of hocus pocus in Sex and the City. It so could have been Bewitched in the City. Pop a question or drop a comment to kiera.tara@gmail.com.

more by Kiera:
old thyme delights | that 70s film: fright night classics

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