Witches, spells, and nostalgia – why ‘Hocus Pocus’ stands the spooky test of time

Hocus Pocus 2 Sanderson sisters
Image via Disney Plus

The Sanderson sisters know a lot about an agonizing wait; they did have to wait 300 years for a virgin to light a candle. So when fans lament about waiting almost 30 years for a sequel to Hocus Pocus, the beloved witches likely roll their eyes in disdain while scoffing, “A measly thirty years…”

Winifred would have a snarky comment that would ultimately follow, while Sarah would follow up with something about Amuck Amuck Amuck. Mary might give you a second of understanding before following Winifred’s lead and saying something about a lack of patience. We know the Sandersons, we’ve lived with them for almost three decades after all, and they’ve become a staple to pop culture. 

So what is it about Hocus Pocus that keeps us coming back? Why did a film that was initially seen as a bit of a failure in box-office terms leave such a lasting impact on entertainment? Is it the magic, the witches, Binx (of course, it’s Binx), or is it the perfectly designed mix of all of it? 

Hocus Pocus, seemingly brewed out of a magic cauldron, had just the right staying power for generations that weren’t even alive when the film first premiered. It was both suitable for the ’90s and ahead of its time, spooky yet hilarious, and the perfect movie to keep us coming back year after year.

As anxious fans sit in front of their televisions to watch Hocus Pocus 2, we’re reflecting on the legacy of the Sanderson Sisters, their particular brand of magic, and the way three witches, a zombie, and a black cat left a mark on us so long ago.

Hocus Pocus is full of iconic quotes

Have you ever awoken on a Monday morning and thought to yourself, “Another glorious morning — makes me SIIIICK”? Do you find yourself driving past a school building and thinking, ‘Oh, look, a prison for children?’ Do you sing “I Put A Spell On You” in a Bette Midler/Winifred Sanderson-esque way? 

Do you bid “goodbye to this cruel world” at the slightest inconvenience during your day? If you’re anything like us, Hocus Pocus quotes have worked their way into your daily life like your favorite song. You’re always ready to toss out a Sanderson quote at just the right moment, and you’ve quickly realized how they’re like beautifully spooky sprinkles atop any conversation.

Those who love Hocus Pocus haven’t just seen the movie once; they’ve enjoyed it throughout each Halloween season. Some fans even press play on a spring evening or a summer afternoon. There’s certainly no wrong time to watch Hocus Pocus; after you’ve seen a movie that many times, you become familiar with it — more knowledgeable than you’re likely aware. 

If we had to pick a few of our favorite Hocus Pocus quotes, at least today, it would be these.

Another glorious morning, makes me sick.”

“It’s a full moon tonight; that’s why all the weirdos are out.”

I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine.”

Shut up! It is but water!

The last one isn’t as quotable, but it’s still hilarious. When Allison talks about forming a salt circle, she knows exactly what it’s essential to be protected from. 

Well, it says to form a circle of salt to protect from zombies, witches, and old boyfriends.”

We’re looking forward to what Hocus Pocus 2 quotes become ingrained into our brains, likely to pop into a conversation at any random moment for the next 30 years. 

The Sanderson sisters are quite relatable

Each of the Sanderson sisters has a specific formula that makes them work. From a color scheme to iconic hair and makeup styles, you can see something unrelated to the film and still think of either Winifred, Mary, or Sarah. The marketing for the characters was fantastic, but we consciously and subconsciously relate to these witches that we spend the movie being quite mad at.

Of course, a piece of the magic, Hocus Pocus, is how it’s geared to be watched by anyone. It’s not so scary that a kid couldn’t sit down to enjoy it, but not too silly for adults to enjoy. Of course, as we’ve grown older ourselves, we find which sister stands out to us more.

There’s even a meme that goes around social media during spooky season that talks about the transformation of which Sanderson you relate to the most. At first, it’s usually Sarah — we want to be beautiful and have all the boys love us. Then we moved on to Winifred as we were a bit sassy and wanted to be in charge. Finally, we realized that we’re all really Mary — she’s got the right priorities, and she does a lot of nervous laughter and screaming. We get it!

No matter what stage of life you’re in; you’re definitely one of the Sanderson sisters, and you’ll likely be each of them several times during one afternoon. 

Another reason they’re relatable is the actresses’ dedication to playing the characters. You could tell they were having so much fun as they became iconic and legendary witchy sisters, that kind of fun mixed in with the magic is what keeps us coming back for more. 

Everyone loves Binx

One of our favorite lines from the film comes from the adorable black cat named Binx, who was meant to be unlucky but was actually quite a good luck charm. 

“You hags! There are not enough children in the world to make thee young and beautiful!”

Binx had every right in the world to hate the Sanderson sisters, and he brought us out of the rose-colored glasses we sometimes saw them in. Thackery Binx lost his sister Emily to the witches, and they turned him into a cat; to spend eternity without her.

Sure, the witches can be relatable and funny, but they did wreak havoc on the town and steal children; he was that constant reminder. His character was sweet, cuddly, and fun — but the writers gifted us something extra special in him: the movie’s real —and ironically, human — nature. 

Dani tells Binx, upon finding out that he’s going to be a cat forever, that he no longer has to walk through life alone. That he’ll be part of her family forever, always loved and cared for. 

“I’ll always take care of you, and my children will take care of you too, and their children after that, and their children after that. Forever and ever.”

It was a scene we didn’t expect to be struck by with such emotion. It was a look into the childlike belief that life always works out, that love can help heal you, and that the smallest creatures can bring us a peace we’d never expect. Binx loved and protected Dani like an older brother, something he no longer got to do with Emily. 

He represented what the Sanderson sisters stole and what beauty could be found, even in the darkest times. So yes, he was a funny cat, but he was also the character who touched our hearts the most with his sweet little paws. 

Fans don Binx shirts during Halloween, some dress up as the cat for their costumes, and we’ve even seen tattoos dedicated to the cat we all love so much. He’s a Halloween staple and a powerhouse in the Hocus Pocus realm. 

That musical number

The Wrap quotes Thora Birch, who played Dani, as saying that the Halloween party in the film was truly the best Halloween party ever. Hearing her rave about the scene is a pretty special thing for fans. 

“It was like the best Halloween party ever. I mean, nobody was miserable. Like, usually in situations like that, where you have a big crowd, or a lot of extras, and you’re doing a big sequence, it can get miserable. It could get boring and you can get all of that. I didn’t hear one single complaint. Everybody loved being in their costumes, they loved knowing where their places were. It actually kind of had a party atmosphere. But then just hearing her, seeing her on stage and watching them singing that song… you wanted to dance, you know?”

From Winifred’s iconic spell-binding performance to the excited crowd mixing with the nervous nature of the kids, there were two very different things happening in that scene. The adults are having the time of their lives while the children see their lives beginning to end. 

Of course, that also nods back to the acting chops of everyone involved, including Midler. In the same article, The Wrap shares more about that powerhouse scene. 

Mick Garris, Hocus Pocus producer, said the moment was a must-have because of Midler’s talent. 

“How can you make a movie this playful with Bette Midler, and not have a musical number? Especially ‘I Put a Spell on You.’ Plus, you have a director who was previously a choreographer, and had done music videos, and was well known for his musical work coming on board to direct. How could you not do a musical number with Bette Midler?”

He went on to explain that it was a pain actually to get the rights to the song, but we’re so glad it all worked out, even if it was taxing in the moment. It’s an iconic scene across entertainment as a whole, not just in the spooky realm. 

So grab your brooms, your capes, and your spellbooks, and let’s dive into Hocus Pocus 2!