'Hocus Pocus'—The Cult Classic Film

by Hayley Dodwell 6 months ago in movie

Surprising Facts!

'Hocus Pocus'—The Cult Classic Film

The cult classic film, Hocus Pocus, which is said to be the most popular Halloween film ever. The film starred Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Fun, action packed, hilarious, creepy, and adventurous film from 1993.

Teenager Max Dennison has moved, with his family, to Salem, Massachusetts. Max takes his little sister Dani out trick or treating on Halloween night, when they come across Max’s new friend Allison. They explore inside an old abandoned house, where Max lights a candle, and with him being a virgin, he frees a coven of witches, the Sanderson Sisters... With the help of Binx, the cat, they must stop the Sanderson Sisters from becoming immortal. Always such a treat of a film to watch! Okay, you know the film, but check out these facts on this spooky fun film...

Do you know Leonard DiCaprio auditioned and won the role of Max Dennison?! That part was all his! However, in the end, he turned the role down. Rumour has it, it was so he was free to work with Johnny Depp on What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Leonardo has said in recent times that he doesn’t know how he had the nerve to turn the role down, but he’d made up his mind, and he was sticking to his guns. The role went to Omri Katz. Who made the part his own. It's hard to imagine any other actor in the role. Omri now works as a hairdresser in Los Angeles.

You may have thought you had seen Omri Katz somewhere before? Well he was the star of the awesome Eerie, Indiana. He played Marshall Teller, who lived in a town where nothing is as it seems. But only Marshall and his friend, Simon, seemed to notice. Originally broadcasted in 1991 to 1992. That show rocked!

Do you remember him from some place else?! Well Omri was the original John Ross Ewing in Dallas, the son of JR and Sue Ellen Ewing. Omri was on the show from 1983 to 1991.

Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t the only actor to turn down a part in Hocus Pocus. Rosie O’Donnell did, too! The star of such films as, Now and Then, The Flintstones, and A League Of Their Own. After being offered the role of Sanderson sister, Mary Sanderson, she felt ‘uneasy’ in taking on a character who killed children. So the part of Mary Sanderson went to the fabulous Kathy Najimy, who was a huge Bette Midler fan. She had even snuck backstage at two of Bette’s concerts! As well as her superb performance in Hocus Pocus, Kathy also is best known for her role of, the super happy nun, Sister Mary Patrick, in the Sister Act films, with Whoopi Goldberg.

I Put A Spell On You..

Photo Credit: Disney

Hocus Pocus was directed, to perfection, by Kenny Ortega. Kenny is not only a director, he is a producer and a choreographer. His choreography credits include, St. Elmo’s Fire, and… Wait for it… Dirty Dancing! Don't you just love those dances?? Kenny was behind it. Kenny also directed the huge hit High School Musical. He is a director of music concerts too; he has worked for Cher, Gloria Estefan, and he worked with Michael Jackson on This Is It.

Believe it or not, this massively popular, cult film, loved all around the world and enjoyed by every generation, was, when released in 1993, a huge flop! It debuted at number four. Grossing $39.5 million. For a film which was made on a budget of $28 million, Disney was not happy.

A big reason it was thought to have been a flop, was due to the film being released in July, so the public really wasn’t ready for Halloween yet. But it was released in July to avoid the release of a new Addams Family film that October. One reviewer gave Hocus Pocus a one star rating. Unbelievable, right?!

The star of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker, played the role of the beautiful witch Sarah Sanderson. Sarah has watched herself in one of her best roles just the once, and that was when the film was released! However Kathy Najimy, watches it once a year, with her family. A regular family tradition.

When asked if she would be interested if a sequel film was made, Sarah said yes, as have Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy. All three are keen to repeat their roles as the Sanderson Sisters. Let’s hope it happens!

Hello Salem..

Photo Credit: Disney

Billy Butcherson was supposed to be a hot zombie. No, really! Yes, he made some ladies swoon! The good guy zombie had women hugely attracted to him, as well as being some girls' first crush! Billy Butcherson, was played by Doug Jones, with it being his first major film role. Billy was once the boyfriend of Winifred Sanderson. He died on May 1, 1693. After Winifred found him with her sister Sarah, she poisoned him and sewed his mouth shut, so he couldn’t tell her secrets, even in death.

In the scene where Billy cuts his mouth open, he had just one word to say, "b#@ch," but Doug Jones wasn’t happy with the word, being it was a Disney film. So he changed the word to "wench" and the rest he improvised. Which the crew loved so much it stayed in the film.

The legend of stage and screen, Bette Midler, whose credits include Beaches, Gypsy, and First Wives Club, has said that Winifred Sanderson is her all time favourite role. Thora Birch, who was 10 years old when she played Dani Dennison, said it was the most fun she has ever had working on a film.

Cute little Binx the cat, was originally going to be a much darker, scarier cat, with fangs and sharp teeth. After discussions, the producers felt that might frighten younger audience members. So, Binx was made much friendlier. The scenes in which Binx is played by a "real" cat, there was a total of nine cats taking on the role. Each cat had a different skill, for example, one sat on cue! Another was good at running on cue! Aww show business!

In the scene at the Town Hall’s Halloween party, where Winifred takes to the stage and announces, “Hello Salem, my name is Winifred. What’s yours?"

This line was a take of the famous line in Gypsy.

“Hello world, my name is Rose, what’s yours?”

Bette played the role of Mamma Rose, in a television version of Gypsy. Gypsy was released the same year as Hocus Pocus, 1993. The film, to me, has become vital viewing every Halloween; it wouldn't be the same without it!

Hayley Dodwell
Hayley Dodwell
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Hayley Dodwell

I am a freelance writer. As well as Vocal, I have also written articles for numerous websites, including, Eighties Kids, WhatCulture, Child Of The 1980's, Online Book Club, GoNOMAD Travel, Hubpages, and ScreenHub Entertainment.

See all posts by Hayley Dodwell