By Ahly Manzueta — A and E Editor
After many years of calm in Salem, the beloved trio of witches, the Sanderson sisters, have risen back onto the big screen.
Nearly three decades ago, Disney’s cult classic Halloween film, Hocus Pocus, was released. But the film wasn’t always so celebrated, upon its release the film received mixed reviews. Despite it taking some time for the movie to gain the following it has today, Hocus Pocus still has a special place in people’s hearts. In the film— before their demise in 1693 at the hands of Salem’s villagers— the sisters, Winnifred (played by Bette Middler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker), placed a curse on Salem— on the night of All Hallow’s Eve should a virgin light the Black Flame Candle under a full moon, the witches would return for one whole night until sunrise, hell bent on revenge and immortality. The main plot of the film takes place 300 years later in 1993, when a boy new to Salem unknowingly triggers the Sanderson’s curse and is determined to banish the sisters once again. Now, 29 years later in 2022, a sequel was released. Hocus Pocus 2 follows three best friends who also trigger the curse and make some interesting personal discoveries along the way— spoiler alert, they’re witches.
Freshman Elsa Nur Halisurahim says that after seeing the first movie, the new Hocus Pocus doesn’t compare. “I thought it wasn’t as good as the original, but it was funny by including modern references to the movie,” said Halsurahim.
Hocus Pocus 2 is available to stream on Disney+, but a sequel wasn’t always part of the studio’s plans.
Bette Middler really wanted a sequel and tried hard a few times to get one going. “Even when it became a phenomenon, [a sequel] wasn’t considered. Ten years on, when I started seeing the returns, I was surprised, and I started making calls,” said Middler.
“We got no interest at all, and a few years after that…As I watched it progress, I’d call the studio once a year to ask, ‘How about it?’ It wasn’t until about three years ago that they advocated for it, and movement started,” she added.
Not everyone sought out a sequel the same way Middler did. Sarah Jessica Parker says she never attempted to get it going. “I didn’t push for it. I think Bette was the only [one] who had conversations. [For me] there were moments where it came up and I was asked about it, or something happened on social media that I’d respond to. I’d always say, ‘Yeah, sure,’ but I can’t confess to being involved in putting it together. The minute I heard it was real, I said yes right away,” she said.
But there has also been some controversy around the film, with some parents deeming it evil and demonic. “A worst case scenario is: you unleash hell on your kids and in your home,” Jamie Gooch, a Texas mother, told The Today Show.“The whole movie is based on witches harvesting children for blood sacrifices,” she added.
On the contrary, Middler (and most others) would say that the Sanderson sisters are a progressive depiction of women. “I think these three characters are really, in a strange and odd way, they’re really quite positive for women. First of all, they’re very funny, which women are not allowed to be, are not supposed to be. … It’s a very broad range of emotions that they live through. But I think in a funny way, their bond is very, very strong. So in any situation where women are together, a bond of friendship and sisterhood is really, really important. And then this movie sort of shores it up,” said Middler.