Every year as Halloween swiftly approaches, the insatiable desire to watch Hocus Pocus on repeat while eating candy corn and pumpkin-flavored everything rises. But while you have been singing "I Put A Spell On You" into a hairbrush and googling what Max and Thackery look like now, you may have missed some Hocus Pocus details that make no sense. And I don't just mean the fact that Binx's cat incarnation totally looks like a puppet at times.
The cult classic arrived in theaters in July 1993 — yes, you read that right, July — and, as you might expect, it didn't do well on its initial run. But, as any child of the '90s knows, just like the Sanderson sisters were resurrected by Thackery Binx and then again by Max Dennison, the movie's life was anything but cut short. Airing constantly on mid-to-late '90s Disney Channel and later on ABC Family's (now Freeform) 13 Nights of Halloween schedule, Hocus Pocus is as relevant now as it ever was.
The movie now ranks as a must-see Halloween film alongside horror classics and kitschier fare like The Nightmare Before Christmas. But its popularity doesn't necessarily mean that it's a perfect movie. There are some obvious goofs that are worth talking about.
1. Why Do The Sisters Know What A Driver's Permit Is?
When Winifred, Mary, and Sarah Sanderson are brought back to life to walk the streets of Salem once again, they aren’t sure what to make of asphalt roads. Mary remarks that "'Tis a black river," and it's only when Winifred pushes Sarah onto it that they discover it's a paved road. So why is it that, when Winifred pulls up alongside Max as he's driving Allison and Dani to the cemetery, she says, "Pull over! Let me see your driver's permit"? If there aren't any paved roads in her memory, how could there possibly be licensed drivers?
2. Why Were They Afraid Of The Sprinklers?
To distract the Sandersons and ensure his escape with Allison and Dani, Max sets off the sprinklers in the Sanderson Sisters' Museum. He proclaims it a "burning rain of death!" and sends Winifred and her sisters into a frenzy as if they're about to perish at the hands of H2O. But somehow they're not observant enough to notice that he's still living despite being drenched by the water, and he's given ample time to escape.
3. Why Are Their References So Anachronistic?
As the sisters are searching for Max and crew, Mary gets Winifred all riled up by noticing a particular odor. "I smell scrod. Scrod. Yeah, It's a bottom dweller," she says. "You cook it sometimes with lovely bread crumbs, a little bit of margarine." Besides Winifred's annoyance that Mary wasn't following her nose to children, the scene should've caused some raised eyebrows for another reason. Margarine was not invented until the 19th century, long after the Sanderson sisters were last alive. There is also the conveniently anachronistic element of Winifred performing "I Put A Spell On You" at the drop of a hat when the song was not released until the 1950s, well after her death in 1693.
4. Why Are The Lighters Right By The Candles?
When Max, Allison and Dani show up at the Sanderson Sisters' Museum, there is a display of lighters mere feet away from where the famed Black Flame Candle sits. This seems like a precarious choice for the museum curators, given the well-known legend that the candle will raise the spirits of the dead sisters when lit by a virgin on Halloween night with a full moon in the sky. Either they were tempting fate, or this was a failed effort by the Hocus Pocus movie prop department to create a reasonable coincidence.
5. Why Doesn't Binx Talk When It's Important?
The black cat version of Thackery Binx has the ability to speak English, but the ability doesn't always seem to come to him. The scene at the Sanderson Sisters' hanging shows cat Binx trying to get his father's attention with some adorable meows, only to have the man yell, "Away, beast!" Max's teacher confirms in the movie's present day setting that "Neither [Thackery's] father, his mother, nor anyone else ever knew what became of him those 300 years ago." So, what, his powers only work when it serves the plot?
6. How Did Sarah Sanderson Change So Much?
Throughout the film, Sarah's hair changes from straight to tightly crimped curls with no continuity nor any apparent explanation. This isn't a huge plot hole, but it's still confounding.
7. Where Are They Getting Their Potion Ingredients From?
Considering the ingredients are things like blood of an owl and a dead man's toe, it is surprising that Winifred, Mary and Sarah are able to scrounge together the stuff to make a new batch of their potion. This is especially odd considering their home has been outfitted as a museum and probably stripped bare of all items useful in making a witch's brew.
8. How Did Billy Not Decompose Right Now?
Since he was dead before even the Sanderson Sisters were hanged, wouldn't the zombified Billy Butcherson have completely decayed by 1993? Or did Winifred embalm her ex-lover after she poisoned him and sewed his mouth shut?
9. Why Are They So Afraid Of Going To Hell?
When Winifred is in the throes of their final standoff, Billy tells her to go to hell. She very cheerily responds, "Oh, I've been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely." This, coupled with the warmth she and her sisters showed toward their Master (in other words the man wearing a devil costume for Halloween whose house they crash), makes one wonder why the Sandersons are so hellbent (pardon the pun) on staying alive forever. If hell is so great, why not go back?
10. Why Not Just Give The Potion To Another Child?
As the movie approaches its close, Sarah has summoned all the children of Salem to the Sanderson Sisters' Museum to hopefully treat them to a drink of poison that will suck the life out of them and restore the sisters' youth. At the last second, however, Winifred decides she prefers revenge to everlasting life and chooses to go after Dani with the last of the potion. For three witches who want nothing more than to continue living, this seems an imprudent choice.
11. Shouldn't Binx Live Forever?
The Sandersons meet their doom at the end of the film and all is well — except for the fate of Binx the cat. As Binx dies, his human incarnation Thackery emerges as a ghost, shuttled off to the spirit world by his little sister Emily. This makes little sense since Thackery was enchanted by the witches to live forever with the guilt of letting his sister have the life sucked out of her. Was there an unread addendum on that spell that said if the caster dies, so does the victim? What gives?
No matter the discontinuities, nothing can change the fact that Hocus Pocus is still one of the best Halloween movies to come out of the '90s.