Sunday 1 October 2023

Review: Hocus Pocus (30th Anniversary)

Hocus Pocus
Cert: PG / 96 mins / Dir. Kenny Ortega / Trailer

Taking as its starting point the classic Macbethian trio of witch sisters, Kenny Ortega's much underrated and overlooked seminal feminist 1993 horror treatise Hocus Pocus may seem like a playful romp, but is actually a tale crafted from a draft manuscript by none other than Howard Phillips Lovecraft, discovered in 1974 among the belongings of his deceased ex-wife Sonia Greene, snapped up by Buena Vista and duly transcribed to Disney's development-hell for almost two decades*1.

All of the literary touchstones are duly homaged. The antiquated prologue is based around the New England witch trials (which which HPL was distractingly fascinated), and both it and its contemporary main-narrative occur on Samhain. Obsessed with the hidden knowledge of cats, the story is one of an ancient evil lying dormant until it's finally revived, so that the past can posses the present. This is orchestrated by a trio of brash if well-meaning innocents, unspeakably drawn to a forbidden sacred tome bound in human flesh. And just as the heroes believe they are making headway with magic for good purposes - unaware that they themselves have been drawn into a life of supernatural servitude - the three resurrected witches are unaware that the insanity of aeons has clouded their resolve, and they themselves are likewise slaves to greater forces - every bit at the mercy of the Elder Ones as the town they claim to haunt. Mass hysteria ensues while the dead rise from their graves, in a land where the sun never seems to rise and torment is eternal. Hocus Pocus is a tale of madness, witchcraft and helpless nihilism in the true Lovecraftian fashion.

And best of all, leading man Omri Katz looks like the reincarnated ancestor of Mr Spooner from Are You Being Served?. What's not to love?

These are both Mr Spooner from Are You Being Served.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 You think I'm joking at this point, much like the write-up I did for The Spaceman and King Arthur, but have you stopped to ask yourself why Hocus Pocus has the same initials as Howard Phillips? Aahhh... [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.