Hocus Pocus was never meant to be a Halloween movie despite a plot that revolves around the holiday. Regardless of the director’s intentions, it swiftly became a Halloween cult classic. The charmingly goofy film is full of comical inaccuracies and fantastic ’90s lingo, introducing us to the term “yabos” as we learned that being a virgin had the potential to raise witches from the dead. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane with these fantastical Hocus Pocus facts.
We’ve Been Pronouncing Binx’s First Name Wrong
Binx, the movie’s immortal cat and a constant thorn in the side for the Sanderson sisters, is a crowd favorite. His first and last name should be common knowledge to the movie’s audience yet many viewers believe Binx’s first name is Zachary.
If you’re part of the “Zachary” camp it might surprise you to learn his name is actually Thackery. Not exactly the most “kid-friendly” name for a cat but this movie isn’t just for young viewers.
Allison Might Not Be All That Innocent
During the lighting ritual of the black flame candle, Max is a gentleman and asks Allison if she would like to do the honors. If you recall young Dani’s reminder in every other scene, a virgin has to light the candle to bring the sisters back from the dead. Disney’s not-so-subtle way of having Max ask if his love interest is still a virgin. She smiles, blushes, and declines.
Allison’s shy response to not lighting the candle is meant to be a sly hint that she is no longer a virgin. Way to be smooth, Disney.
Zombie Billy Should ‘Scientifically’ Been A Different Monster
Let’s take a scientific approach to Billy Butcherson’s zombie-state. Courtesy of Winifred, Billy has been six-feet under for over 300 years. Think about it. His skin would have decayed long before his resurrection in 1993, leaving him as a skeleton and not a green zombie in desperate need of lotion, deep conditioning, and a hairbrush.
Did Winnie embalm her ex-lover after poisoning him and sewing his mouth shut? It’s almost as though she had plans to resurrect him one day, if only to yell at him some more for cheating on her with her sister, Sarah. Drama.
Omir Katz Almost Wasn’t Cast As Max
Could you imagine a different teenage heartthrob playing Max? We can’t. During his first audition for the role of the broody Max Dennison, Omri Katz was sick. His illness affected his performance to the point of rejection from the part. Luckily, the original choice for Max backed out due to a scheduling conflict, landing Katz a callback.
Max made a better impression during his second audition, ultimately getting hired to portray Max on the big screen.
Guess Who Was Supposed To Play Max
Omri Katz did the role justice while teaching the upcoming generation the term “yabos” but he wasn’t the casting director’s first choice. Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to play the part of uprooted California boy Max Dennison. The famous actor turned down the role to star alongside Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
Not that we don’t love a young Leo, but there was just something special about Omir in a tie-dyed shirt with that floppy brown hair.
The Kids Didn’t Like Binx’s Stunt Doubles
Binx had multiple real-life representations of himself. All of which the kids did not enjoy working with. Each black cat served a different purpose: one was good at cuddling while another would jump on command.
Unfortunately, each time a new cat was used on set the kids had to coerce it to like them by using treats and a clicker — that sounds more typical of cat behavior! As you can imagine, this got old real fast for the child actors. They also had a fake, prop cat they used, pictured here.
The “Burning Rain Of Death” Shouldn’t Have Worked
As far as escape tactics go, Max’s “burning rain of death” isn’t terrible. It does give the kids a few minutes head start to get away from the Sanderson sisters. But, if you think about it, he uses a relatively old Zippo lighter from the Sanderson museum gift-store to trigger the fire alarm sprinklers.
If this particular lighter were pre-filled, the liquid most likely would have evaporated in the years since the museum closed.
The Movie Was Originally Created With A Different Genre Focus
Would you believe that Hocus Pocus was originally written as a horror movie? The first draft of the script is said to have featured less comedy and far more frightening scenes. We have to wonder what would have come of Jay and Ice and characters featured throughout the movie.
Thankfully, the writers decided to go with a more family-friendly feel, giving us the plotline we have come to know and love.
A Professional Monster?
As you may know, Zombie Billy is brought to life by none other than the legendary Doug Jones. Known as the “professional monster” in Hollywood, Jones’ experience in miming and contortion landed him many famous monster roles. One of his most acclaimed characters being that of the Amphibian Man in the Academy Awards nominated movie The Shape of Water. Talk about a niche area of expertise!
Although Doug has many faces, he’ll always be the snarky zombie that held a 300-year-old grudge against a cranky witch who sewed his mouth shut.
Some people have a cat, and others have a spellbook bound in human skin with a human eye on the cover. At least it’s a good conversation starter.
While reading enchantments from the pet book, Bette Midler did something only a seasoned actress would think of — she used a dictionary full of old curse words! She felt the old-timey words would make Winifred’s enchantments sound more authentic. She wasn’t wrong! Where does one find a dictionary of old curse words anyway? Could be an interesting read.
Come, Little Children, I’ll Take Thee Away
In case you ever wondered about the eerie song Sarah sings, actress Sarah Jessica Parker actually does the vocals. Parker’s character, Sarah, uses this song to lure children to the Sanderson sister’s home in the forest. Their goal: to suck the life force out of the kids so the sisters can be youthful forever. Yikes.
What most people don’t know about this song is that it was written by the same guy who wrote the score for Titanic, James Horner. Horner seems to have an affinity for haunting melodies.
Sarah Jessica Parker Has A Witchy Ancestry
When Sarah Jessica Parker played quirky, boy-crazy Sarah Sanderson, she had no clue of her advantage over fellow actresses in their portrayal of the witchy sisters. Parker is a descendant of Esther Elwell, a lady accused of witchcraft in 1692 during the Salem witch trials. Esther’s arrest was the last formal accusation recorded during the trials. Thankfully, her case never made it to trial, and she was set free.
I bet SJP wished her ancestor were alive to give some pointers on how to play a convincing witch! Not to say she didn’t nail the role, because she 100% did.
‘Tis A Black River
All of the anachronisms is one of the reasons Hocus Pocus became a cult classic. But there is one creation that is portrayed accurately, the blacktop. The Sanderson sisters have no clue what it is! Paved roads weren’t around until the 1800s, long after the sisters were hanged and six-feet under. Even though asphalt doesn’t move, it’s no wonder Mary believe it to be a black river.
It’s not until Winnie pushes her sister, Sarah, into the “river” that they all conclude it’s actually a road. Talk about sisterly love. If they were wrong, Sarah could have drowned!
California to Massachusetts is a big move for a teenager who probably just hit puberty recently. Regardless of which ocean boarders Max’s state, we can imagine the most challenging change is having school on the weekend. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. Bear with me.
Hocus Pocus takes place on October 31, 1993, for a particular reason: the curse of the black flame candle. Unfortunately, Halloween in ’93 falls on a Sunday, meaning the classroom scene shouldn’t have happened. Maybe the writers should have looked at a calendar and moved the setting to the following year.
The Sister’s Couldn’t Have Been Revived
The full moon in Hocus Pocus is almost an important as the witches because the sisters wouldn’t have come back from the dead without it. Just look at Winifred’s spell for the black flame candle, “One all Hallow’s Eve, when the moon is round, a virgin will summon thee from under the ground.”
Records show us that there hasn’t been a full moon on Halloween since 1974, the next one being in 2020. Meaning, the sisters should never have come back from the dead in 1993. That would have made for a very boring plotline.
They Forgot To Fall Back!
For a teenager, Max is pretty on top of the start date for daylight savings time. October 31 was indeed the first day of DST in 1993. Very helpful for a bunch of kids who are trying to survive the night because the three witches chasing them have until dawn to fulfill their spell.
The only problem is that the sun rises at 5:00 a.m when it should come over the horizon an hour later or 6:25 a.m. if we want to be exact. We can chalk the botched timeline up to the kids forgetting to reset their watches.
Binx The Cat And Thackery The Human
Although they sound very similar, the actor who plays Thackery, the person, is not the same person who voices Binx, the cat. Sean Murray plays the human/ghost version of Thackery Binx. You might recognize an older Murray from his NCIS character, Timothy McGee. Cat Binx, on the other hand, is voiced by Jason Marsden, a prolific voice actor.
You might recall him depicting the voice of Goofy’s too-cool-for-school son, Max Goof, in An Extremely Goofy Movie, as well as Kovu in Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. We don’t know why they hired two separate people for, technically, the same character.
Satan And Medusa Are Related
Well, maybe not actual Satan and Medusa, but the two actors portraying the older couple are real-life brother and sister! Makes sense, since the pair acts more like fighting siblings than what one would call a “happily married couple.”
Penny and Garry Marshall are well-known directors, actors, producers, and writers, taking part in movies such as A League of Their Own and The Princess Diaries series, respectively. The famous New York siblings had respected and storied careers, both passing at an old age.
Winifred Talks About A Subject She Has No Knowledge About
While chasing the kids down the road, Winifred yells to the driver, Max, “Pull over! Let me see your driver’s permit.” What’s meant to be comic relief during the high-speed chase, turns into us questioning Winnie’s knowledge. Earlier in the movie, we see that the sisters don’t know what a road, bus, or car is. So how in the world did the eldest sister know about a driver’s permit?
Licenses weren’t necessarily a legal requirement until the mid-1930s? Easy, she wouldn’t. Maybe Winifred Sanderson saw a billboard or glanced over a TV commercial to learn this fun fact but honestly, it’s probably just a script fail.
Kathy Najimy Wasn’t The First Choice For Mary Sanderson
Mary Sanderson’s famous line, “I smell children!” was meant for another actor. Kathy Najimy was not the casting directors first choice for the role of the middle Sanderson sister. Instead, they had their eyes on Rosie O’Donnell but she didn’t even audition. We all love Kathy’s fun take on Mary, but it would have been an experience to see O’Donnell running amuck with Midler and Parker throughout Salem.
Rosie declined the part because she didn’t want to play a scary witch. We have to wonder if she even bothered to read the script.