Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a Halloween cult classic

Julia Capraro
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Should you only have the time to enjoy one Halloween-centric movie, it would be a crime to overlook the 90s cult classic “Hocus Pocus.” 

When a trio of 17th-century witches descend on Salem, Massachusetts, to harvest children’s souls, a crew of locals must use the power of friendship to stop them. This movie has it all: an entertaining premise, a great setting, compelling heroes and truly wicked villains. 

The Sanderson Sisters, a trifecta of witches make excellent villains. With their objective being to harness the souls of children, these witches are unapologetically evil. 

Coven are extremely powerful foes, and their unique combination of abilities is only enhanced by Winifred, the leader of the group’s, spell book personally given to her by Satan. The book is bound in human skin — which is a terrifying thought to have cross your mind throughout the movie when it appears.  

Thackery Binks is a recurring character that is particularly enjoyable. I can’t help but pity him on numerous occasions, the least of which is his name. He is a colonial settler boy who confronts the witches after they kidnap his sister. His savior attempt fails and for his sins, he becomes a terrifying CGI 90s monstrosity attempting to pass itself off as an immortal talking black cat. 

It is the stuff of nightmares, especially after he gets crushed by a bus and comes back to life. His existence is so torturous that when he dies one can’t help but feel happy knowing that deep down this is what he wants.  

Hocus Pocus is perfect because it can fit so many different movie needs. It’s a movie that can get you in the Halloween spirit, put it on for background noise, watch it and intently take notes and over-analyze it. Its comedy manages to be funny for any age both because it is witty, and there is a plethora of adult jokes that, to be quite frank, aren’t subtle at all, especially when a bus driver offers to give the witches children.  

The movie isn’t just a comedy, it can also be horrifying at times, at least on a conceptual level – conceptually horrifying things such as the aforementioned “skin book” and the immortal cat. There is also Allison’s family’s “Masked Halloween Colonial Costumed Eyes Wide Shut” party. This party is never elaborated on, its purpose never revealed. In a world with witches, it only makes sense that there would be a colonial cult in the town. 

Another reason “Hocus Pocus” is such an iconic Halloween movie is because it was filmed where the movie takes place. A number of establishing and outdoor shots were filmed throughout the North Shore town, including both Max and Allison’s houses. The colonial mansion where the weird Halloween cult party is just a 30-minute ride via the commuter rail. 

If ever there was a time to go it would be now right before Halloween and if you’re really lucky you might even see a homeowner or two.  

“Hocus Pocus” even offers an inspirational family tale. Older brother Max and younger sister Dani Dennison are instantly at odds at the beginning of the movie. The tension between the pair is high but because of the numerous close calls they experience with one another, they learn to value their familial bond. The Dennison siblings aren’t the only characters that manage to trauma bond. Max and Allison’s relationship also grows exponentially during the movie. They go from mere classroom acquaintances to  teenagers in love by the end of the night despite Max’s standoffish personality.  

The movie isn’t afraid to have Max do comedically stupid things for the audience’s entertaining benefit. Repeatedly, Max embarrasses himself through his own actions and the other characters don’t let him off the hook. Whether it be sharing intimate desires with his pillow, the lighting of the virgin candle or neglecting Allison and Dani’s advice, the movie repeatedly shows and makes fun of Max for his incompetence.  

The ending of the movie is a fantastic 30 minutes of hijinks and is shared between two locations: the sister’s witch’s hut and a cemetery. The Dennison siblings and Allison defeat the Sanderson trio, ending their night of Halloween mischief with sweet, sweet victory. 

“Hocus Pocus” is filled to the brim with reasons to love it, whether you need to get in the Halloween mood, want 90 minutes of quality entertainment or are looking for a Disney classic. It has become a Halloween cult classic for a reason. 

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About the Contributor
Julia Capraro, Editor-at-Large | she/her
Julia is a sophomore broadcast journalism and psychology major from Canton, Massachusetts. In addition to writing for the journal, she is President of Suffolk Visual Arts Club. She loves cooking, crochet and reading in her free time.

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