October means Halloween, and Halloween equates to shameless viewings of our favorite haunted fun films. One spooky sensation always tops my must-watch list. Hocus Pocus, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, stands out as one of the funniest and most quotable movies of the holiday season.
It only seems appropriate to revisit the film by noting 13 facts and finds, thanks to IMDB and my strange knowledge of these fine details.
1. Bette Midler has considered this her favorite film role to date. We would agree, Bette, as your “marvelous” performance here is our favorite, too. Nobody could pull off Winifred better than you.
2. Hocus Pocus is one of ABC Family’s top-performing programs during its annual 13 Nights of Halloween lineup. No wonder why, as everyone must love watching the Sanderson Sisters brew up Disney mayhem.
3. “I Put A Spell On You,” which Bette Midler belts out in the clip below, was originally written in 1956, some 37 years before the film’s premiere. The song is also played in the Disney theme parks during their annual Halloween events. Watch the show-stopping song below.
4. Though critics’ reviews only mustered a 30 percent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 65 percent of audiences approve it. The viewers are generally right, critics, and you cannot argue with that disparity.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally offered the role of Max Dennison, but he turned down the opportunity to star in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Nice move, Leo. You scored an Oscar nod for a role in that film, and allowed Omri Katz to have a starring role here.
6. Director Kenny Ortega would later helm the High School Musical films. What a transition, Kenny, from wild witches to toe-tapping teenagers. You’re pretty versatile.
7. Had Disney executives not found the value in this feature, it would have ended up as a Disney Channel Original Movie. That may have sealed its fate as forgotten – as many television films of that era have been lost to time – but instead it found life on the silver screen. Hooray!
8. Hocus Pocus includes some vocabulary rarely found in a Disney feature. Among those words are “virgin” and “hell.” Well, I guess that partially accounts for its PG rating, notated for “language,” as well as for “some scary sequences.”
9. All three leading ladies (Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) were nominated for Saturn Awards in 1994. Unfortunately none of them won. You can blame the voters who selected Andie MacDowell’s (Best Actress) performance in Groundhog Day and Amanda Plummer’s (Best Supporting Actress) performance in Needful Things.
10. Many countries, including Argentina and Brazil, refer to the film as Abracadabra. I like the Hocus Pocus title, but at least it’s still cleverly-named in other countries.
11. Though set in Salem, Massachusetts, many movie scenes were filmed in Plymouth, Massachusetts and Los Angeles. Luckily the audience is never fooled.
12. Several background characters are dressed up as Disney personalities, including Tron and Mrs. Potts. No doubt this Tron cameo inspired the development of Tron: Legacy, right?
13. Halloween 1993 took place on a Sunday, though the beginning of the film depicts Max at school. Well, this error could be attributed to one of two factors. Either kids attended classes on weekends in Salem, or Hocus Pocus is set in an alternative universe. Your choice.
So how do you plan on spending your October prior to Halloween? If one thing is for sure, you know what will be playing on my television. Share your memories of Hocus Pocus, a real Disney treat – most definitely not a trick!
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom!