In Disney’s HOCUS POCUS, Academy Award(R) nominee Bette Midler (Best Actress, 1991, FOR THE BOYS), stars with Sarah Jessica Parker (SEX AND THE CITY) and Kathy Najimy (THE WEDDING PLANNER) as three wild witches who return from seventeenth-century Salem for a night of zany fun and comic chaos. After they’re conjured up by unsuspecting pranksters, the tricky trio sets out to cast a spell on the town and reclaim their youth. But first they must outwit three feisty kids determined to foil their scheme! Filled with bewitching laughs and magic, this hilarious film is perfect for the whole family!|Producer David Kirschner came up with the idea for the movie one night while he and his young daughter were sitting outside and his neighbor’s black cat strayed by. Kirschner began to unspool a narrative of how the cat was once a boy who was changed into a feline 300 years ago by three witches.|Actress Kathy Najimy described her character Mary as “Eddie Haskell as a witch,” referring to the character on the classic TV series “Leave It To Beaver.” “She sucks up to Winifred [Bette Midler’s character] every chance she gets. She wants to be part of the power club and Winifred’s got the power.”|To create the costumes, designer Mary Vogt read many historical books about Salem, Massachusetts. “I even read diaries of women who were hanged as witches,” she says.

Studio: Walt Disney Video
Year: 1993
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Run time: 96 minutes
Rating: PG

Audio: DTS HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD
Region: A

If you grew up in the nineties, you’ve probably seen “Hocus Pocus” a few hundred times. I think most every generation gets their own kid-friendly horror-lite Halloween movie.

The cast and characters make the film far more likable then it would have been otherwise. Bette Midler goes far over the top as lead witch Winnifred. Her make-up is cartoonish, including frizzy red hair, perpetually pursed lips, and comically exaggerated buckteeth. Midler’s acting is on the same level. She hoots, hollers, squeals, and delivers every line with comic-stripe panache. Even her facial expressions and body language are calculated for goofiness. She plays off the other two sisters nicely. Sarah Jackson Parker, before everyone started calling her a horse, brings a manic energy to the part. She jumps around, repeats dialogue, and actually conveys a wacky sexiness. Kathy Najimi is similarly silly, acting like an overgrown dofus.

Much of the humor comes from typical “fish out of water” shenanigans. The witches are baffled and occasionally delighted by asphalt, a bus, TV, remotes, and the concept of Halloween. Some of this is more entertaining then others. The interaction with a horny bus driver or Garry Marshall dressed as the Devil get genuine laughs. The trio constantly being fooled by fire sprinklers or headlights proves less so. Some of the overly goofy gags prove better then others. The witches having their brooms snatched by young look-a-likes is amusing. Them jumping on mops and vacuums are the sorts of goofy, kid’s movie jokes you’d hope the movie would avoid. Midler and crew deliver their frequently corny dialogue like pros, never loosing that ridiculous cartoon tone.

Movie Quality: 9/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. ‘Hocus Pocus’ is 25 years old, and offers an above average rating against other catalog titles with a much softer look. By no means is this bad. Colors are strong and bright throughout the print offering a decent pop to the image. Black levels are deep. Details were good in several scenes on up close shots, but when the camera panned away there was a loss of detail. There is grain in the film which is not consistent throughout the print. This can get a bit distracting at times. For fans of both films, will not be disappointed.
Print Quality: 8/10

The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA l0ssless 5.1 mix. ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a dialogue driven film, with effects sprinkled into the soundfield providing a more front heavy experience. The dialogue was clear and crisp with no apparent issues. The mix is well balanced with the low usage of the surrounds. The rears do get some use with the soundtrack, but do not offer the excellent depth. I would say that this mix was sufficient enough for this type of film, but not sufficient for the upgrade to high definition.
Print Quality: 8/10

Special Features

  • We ❤️ Hocus Pocus: Trivia and Treats Edition [HD]
  • Original Production Featurette

Special Features: 4/10

Final Thoughts

‘Hocus Pocus’ even has a moment of eerie beauty, when Parker lures the children of the town away with a siren song. The music is ethereal and the image of hundreds of kids, some still in their Halloween costumes, walking the streets at night sticks with you. The special effects don’t hold up and the whole movie is a goofy trifle. As far as nineties nostalgia go? “Hocus Pocus” is one of the better examples from my childhood.
Overall Rating: 7/10