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Podcast No. 0026: It's All Just A Bunch of Hocus Pocus

Disney Hocus Pocus Movie Poster
Disney Hocus Pocus Movie Poster

This month on Dispodopolis, we discuss the 1993 Disney movie Hocus Pocus. This was Fiona’s personal pick because she thought it would be an appropriate time of year to talk about this feature film. It looks like it is here to stay as a Freeform tradition because they have decided to run it all day in a loop on Halloween.

We start our discussion where every great movie review should start “at the beginning.” We discuss the well-crafted introduction to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1693 and the Sanderson sisters. Filming for the opening scene occurred on location at the Pioneer Village, which is ten minutes from downtown Salem and represents Salem in 1630. The Sanderson sisters’ house inside and out was built on a soundstage in Burbank, California. This is also our introduction to the Sanderson sisters. Unfortunately, this is also where we see the passing of poor Emily (Amanda Shepherd) and the fate of Thackery Binx (Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee on NCIS) to roam the earth as a cat for the rest of his life.

Well established actresses play the Sanderson sisters. Winifred Sanderson is played by Bette Midler, who had been working with Touchstone and Michael Eisner for seven pictures. Mary Sanderson was played by Kathy Najimy, who had jumped on the scene in Sister Act, which is also a Touchstone movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg. Sarah Sanderson was played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who appears in Square Pegs, which was an X-generation favorite, Footloose, and L.A. Story.

The Sanderson Sisters: Mary, Winifred, and Sarah
The Sanderson Sisters: Mary, Winifred, and Sarah

As we fade out from the establishment of our plotline, we find ourselves in a classroom in the modern day of 1993, Salem, Massachusetts. Inside the classroom, we are introduced to two of our main protagonists of the movie, Max (Omri Katz), and Alison (Vinessa Shaw from 3:10 to Yuma and The Hills Have Eyes). As Max goes home, we run into our modern-day antagonists Jay (Tobias Jelinek is known for Stranger Things and Agents of SHIELD) and Ernie “Ice” (Larry Bagby is known for The Day the Earth Stood Still and Walk the Line). They land up causing issues for Max here and later while he is trick or treating with his sister Dani (Thora Burch from American Beauty and The Walking Dead).

All three of leading characters, Alison, Maxi, and Dani, land up together on Halloween night and releasing the Sanderson sisters from hell by lighting the black flame candle. The antics for the night begin here at the witches’ house. Our three heroes spend the evening running through the town from the witches. They have to defeat the witches twice to save the town’s children. There are quite a few comic relief moments throughout the film. There are a few that aren’t appropriate for a PG audience but will fly under the radar. One questionable moment is when Sarah Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker, is riding on the lap of the bus driver and driving the bus. There was a definite running dialogue of innuendos between the two.

Another story that runs through the film and brings a welcome element of comic relief is William Butcherson (Doug Jones is known for The Shape of Water, Hellboy, and Pan’s Labyrinth). He is Winifred Sandersons’ jilted lover that cheated with her sister, Sarah. Winifred poisoned him and sewed his mouth shut. Winifred raises Billy from the dead to torment the children through the town, but Billy later rebukes the sisters and transitions to be a virtuous character that aids our protagonists.

The production was filmed in and around Salem, bringing authenticity to the film and was filled in by shots from backstage studio lots in Burbank, California, and specific locations in Whittier, California. Alison’s house was the Ropes Mansion, which is open for touring, in Salem and Max and Dani’s house is a residential house also in Salem. The Old Town Hall and School in Salem are also present in the movie. The trick or treating street can be found in Whittier, California, on a Victoria housing row. A fun fact about the park with the fountain the kids dance around is the same park and fountain used in the opening of television show Friends.

The Fountain from Hocus Pocus that was used in the opening of Friends
The Fountain from Hocus Pocus that was used in the opening of Friends

We, as a team, think that Freeform is on to something by providing a climactic moment to the season of Halloween by providing Hocus Pocus on a loop on All Hollow’s Eve. I personally look forward to celebrating this underrated movie every year in October. I also can’t wait to see how the next episode of Hocus Pocus plays out on Disney Plus. I hope all three Sanderson sisters return for the next installment. I would also love to see the introduction of their mother.

Before we jump into our discussion of Hocus Pocus, we ask ourselves the question, which Disney witch would you like to be and which witch power would you like to acquire? We cover flying on a broom and traveling by bed knob. There are also a few incantations used to obtain our abilities and show our Disney prowess. Let us know which witch power you would like to capture from the Disney family.

We would love to hear from you and your family. If you have any comments, questions, or fun and fancy-free thoughts for us, email us at Please enjoy our latest podcast, Dispodopolis.

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