THE WITCHES ARE BACK!
It’s been almost thirty years since Hocus Pocus first premiered. The film starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as the legendary Sanderson sister witches who are bent on stealing the lifeforce from children on All Hallow’s Eve is regarded as a Halloween classic.
Directed by Kenny Ortega, this movie still tops the charts for most-watched Halloween movies today. It has appeared on Eli Roth’s History of Horror, fourteen “Top 10” episodes of WatchMojo, and has dozens of lines that fans immediately recognize. After all, what Hocus Pocus fan doesn’t know the ending to the line, “Oh look, another glorious…”
While Max (Omri Katz), Dani (Thora Birch), and Allison (Vinessa Shaw) stole our hearts as the protagonists of the original film, we are ecstatic to see that Hocus Pocus 2 is finally on the horizon with new protagonists and a new story to tell, this time directed by Anne Fletcher.
While many details are still unknown, the recent release of a teaser trailer left us ecstatic and anxiously awaiting more. Let’s “form a calming circle” and break down the trailer moment by moment and see what it means for this highly anticipated sequel.
Will Hocus Pocus 2 Introduce a New Familiar?
The trailer opens with a scenic shot of a black bird with red and yellow plumage flying over the water. Immediately we are left to wonder if this peculiar bird will make more of an appearance in the sequel.
Remember, the first Hocus Pocus saw the assistance of Binx: the boy (Sean Murray), who was turned into an immortal, talking cat (Jason Marsden) by the witches. This cat served as the protagonists’ familiar. Given Thackery Binx’s transition into the spirit world at the end of Hocus Pocus, it begs the question of whether there will be a helpful animal friend for the adversaries of the Sanderson sisters once more.
Or could it be that Hocus Pocus would follow in the footsteps of other Disney counterparts such as Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty which see magical villains utilizing a bird as a companion? Will evil have a familiar of its own this time?
If that’s the case, the new protagonists undoubtedly have a difficult journey ahead.
Meeting New Characters
The next shot of the trailer sees the introduction of the sequel’s new protagonists. Pictured is Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) standing by a bike rack in a schoolyard. In the background of the next shot, a partial name can be observed: “…Skelton High School”. Given that the original Hocus Pocus took place at Jacob Bailey High School, it seems our newcomers attend a different school. However, according to the synopsis, the story still takes place in Salem.
In the foreground of the shot, we are introduced to the third protagonist, Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), who wishes Becca a happy birthday.
“What are you guys going to do tonight?” she asks the girls.
Becca replies that they plan to binge scary movies, although the following scenes indicate otherwise.
The Next Generation of Salem Witches
The ensuing frames of the trailer follow Becca striking a match, bringing the flame to a candle nestled in the ground. She and Izzy are huddled around it, in the forest with a full moon glowing brightly in the background.
The shot cuts away, and shows the two girls in the daytime, walking their bikes to a Salem Magic Shoppe. Gilbert (Sam Richardson), who is presumably the shopkeeper, is on the screen, explaining:
“You know legend has it, on her sixteenth birthday is when a witch gets her powers.” A black cat is shown. (Are you my familiar?)
The spoken line at the magic shop reveals a huge plot point of this sequel: the emergence of another witch. Lest we forget that the original Hocus Pocus did not initially feature protagonists that had mystical forms of magick.
Old Magick vs New Magic
In the beginning, the protagonists of the original used the magic of technology to outsmart and confound the evil witches. Most notable examples of this came from:
- The scene where Max seemingly conjured fire in his hand via a lighter, which he then used to set off a sprinkler system he introduced as “the burning rain of death”.
- Then, who could forget the headlights that shone brightly as sunlight as Max proclaimed the witches forgot about Daylight Savings Time.
- Finally, the moment where a recording led the Sanderson sisters into a furnace, and they eventually emerged smoke-filled, saying “Hello, I want my book” in French:
“Bonjour. Je veux mon livre.”
For what it’s worth, these technological tricks only deterred the witches from their goal, they did not defeat them. The protagonist trio was not successful in stopping the witches until they began adapting facets of real magick. Examples of this were Allison utilizing a salt circle, the final fight taking place on hallowed ground, and Max using the witches’ life-force absorbing potion on himself.
It will be interesting to see if the characters of Hocus Pocus 2 will follow this same trend. As sci-fi writer and scientist Arthur C. Clarke famously once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It was a combination of this technological “new magic” and tenets of old magick that defeated the Sanderson Sisters in the past.
If this is to be the case again, the new characters may have a leg up on the competition as technology has boomed significantly since the witches arose last, and the trailer already shows the protagonists’ propensity to practice old magick.
Witch Worlds Collide
In a voiceover, Becca and Izzy can be heard starting to chant:
“Another year begins anew…”
Then the eerie chants of the Sanderson sisters can be heard:
If you can’t quite put your finger on how that’s familiar, the first time it was heard was during Binx’s curse in the first Hocus Pocus:
“Twist the bones and bend the back.
Trim him of his baby fat
Give him fur black as black
The girls’ chant continues: “Maiden, mother, and crone too”.
What better an object to make an appearance during all this spellcasting than the Sanderson’s book of magic. While shown only briefly, its stunning resolution and lifelike quality clearly reflect this digital era. The book’s bright blue eye is open once more.
In the next shot, a book is seen shaking on a shelf, with the black cat from before eyeing it closely. Could it be that the Sanderson’s magic book made its way into the Salem Magic Shoppe?
“We call on thee with one request…” the girls’ spell continues. This time, the dialogue is no longer a voice-over. We are taken back to the shot of Becca and Izzy in the woods under a full moon as before, and it’s revealed that this is where they are as they are chanting their spell.
A zoomed-out shot of a church within a cemetery is followed by the close-up of a grave that Hocus Pocus fans will recognize immediately.
“Here lies the body of William Butcherson”
According to the cast list, Doug Jones will be reprising his role as the former love, and victim of Winifred Sanderson: Billy, in Hocus Pocus 2.
The camera flashes back to the girls in the woods as they conclude their spell:
“Help our intentions manifest.”
Just then, the iconic black flame candle bursts to life as Becca’s match ignites it. The girls seem startled by the black of the candle flame and immediately jump back.
This Halloween season, a title card begins.
A shot of the girls staring off into the woods, looking confused or concerned. Followed by another shot, this time of a strong wind blowing the candle flame, and billowing leaves around it. Red smoke begins to emit from the earth near the candle, as the girls are left looking stricken.
The Earth splits, revealing a red glow emanating from within. The girls begin running, as the crack in the Earth outstretches in the opposite direction. It continues to spread until it finally forks into three, forming a pitchfork shape on the ground.
(Given the incorporation of real magickal practice (chanting on a full moon, manifestation, etc.) the pitchfork shape could very well represent the Algiz rune. It aligns with the potential theme of discovering oneself and awakening powers.)
….never die, the title cards continue.
Then the screen goes to black, and the unmistakable, immediately recognizable voice of the great Bette Midler in her role as Winifred Sanderson can be heard.
The Return of the Sanderson Sisters
“Lock up your children!” Winifred Sanderson commands. It is then, through the flashes of strobing light that we are finally given a glimpse of the Sanderson sisters, just as glorious as ever.
“Yes Salem, we’re back!” exclaims Winifred, as the screen fades into green smoke.
As viewers may be aware, Disney tends to use green when representing a villain. How perfect that this callback to villain themes would be immediately succeeded by the title card reading “Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2”.
The same frame also informs us that the film will be available for streaming on September 30th.
Though the trailer is almost over, there is one more morsel of information it offers before it ends.
Another Hocus Pocus song?
A man who seems to be speaking to a security guard appears on the screen, proclaiming, “Hey, it’s the Sanderson sisters! I bet you’re looking for a stage.”
“Always,” replies Winifred Sanderson, absolutely smoldering.
This moment immediately brings to mind the Sanderson sisters’ Halloween performance in Hocus Pocuswhere they hypnotized all the town’s adults to dance until they were dead via the fantastic performance of “I Put a Spell on You.”
(Dancing until death has historical roots, most notably in The Dancing Plague of 1518 where people of the ancient city of Strasbourg began dancing inexplicably for months. Hundreds joined in this dance against their will and danced until they finally dropped from exhaustion. Although the potential causes range from hysteria to mold, no one can definitively explain why this phenomenon has occurred in the past.)
Since Max, Dani, and Allison were able to break the curse by defeating the witches, the adults survived and were left only with the memory of the epic song cover, coupled with a “marvelous introduction” by Max.
The moment in the trailer hopefully means that Hocus Pocus 2 will have its own music numbers, as Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Come Little Children” from the original Hocus Pocus is also a stand-out hit from the film.
It’s worth noting that the cast list shows drag performers Ginger Minj, Kahmora Hall, and Kornbread Jete are slotted to play drag versions of Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, respectively. Therefore, it is a possibility that the man in the trailer could have been mistaking the real Winifred Sanderson for the drag version, hence explaining his comment.
No matter the case, it seems that Bette Midler is poised to take the stage in Hocus Pocus 2, and historically that means greatness is sure to follow.
What’s more, is that Hannah Waddingham is slotted to play a role in the film. However, mysteriously, she is neither featured in the trailer nor is her character name listed on the IMDb cast list.
With three months to go until this film’s release, this teaser trailer gave us so much and so little simultaneously. September 30th can’t come soon enough.
It Came From Shudder: December Edition
It’s the first Friday of December! You know what that means, it’s time to share a small selection of movies that we’ve watched, or are looking forward to watching on Shudder. Look, we get it, Shudder serves up tons of content and it’s constantly adding new stuff to its catalog. So we’re here to help you with a handful of recommendations.
What to watch on Shudder this Month
A Wounded Fawn
This trailer caught my eye from the start. From what I gather, it’s about a woman who goes on a weekend getaway with a man she’s been seeing who happens to be a serial killer. Starring Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben, this movie looks very suspenseful… and weird? I can’t wait to watch this and get to the bottom of all the weird visuals sprinkled into the trailer.
Christmas Bloody Christmas
Directed by Joe Begos, this movie takes place on Christmas Eve and pits a record store owner against a violent homicidal robot Santa Claus. Yes, I know how that sounds, and yes, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. The trailer looks so colorful, and it immediately transported me to my second most favorite time of the year, Christmas. Robo-Santa Plus looks brutal and over the top, two things I love in my horror. Christmas Bloody Christmas is available to stream on Shudder starting December 9th.
Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge
If you’re a fan of horror anthologies like we, then you’re going to love Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge. The highly anticipated sequel to fan favorite Scare Package follows Rad Chad’s funeral, where attendees must survive death traps based on Chad’s favorite movies.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Shudder outdid themselves this time. Bringing us not just A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the entire collection! Do yourself a favor and rewatch these movies immediately, because I can guarantee you it’s been too long since the last time you did. As a bonus make sure to give Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street a watch. Seeing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 actor Mark Patton’s perspective and experience as a gay actor makes for some of the most touching, compelling TV in recent memory.
Joe Bob’s Goultide Get-Together
Live streaming Friday, December 16th at 9 PM Eastern on Shudder TV. This holiday-themed episode will surely be filled with fun facts, awesome interviews, and a double feature that will have us all tweeting in excitement. As of now, we have no idea which movies will play and that’s half the fun! The other half? Guessing Darcy’s cosplays for the night. If you have never participated in a Joe Bob live stream, make sure you tune in on time and have Twitter ready to engage! It’s a good time. If you happen to miss the live stream, no worries! The episode will be available to stream later on in the weekend.
Next time you’re looking for something to watch on Shudder, make sure to stream these titles!
There’s News Down in Newville: ‘The Mean One’ (Horror-Parody of ‘The Grinch’) Trailer Has Arrived
As the release of The Grinch horror parody draws near, The Mean One trailer is finally here!
David Howard Thornton, who has recently skyrocketed in popularity due to his fantastic performance as Art the Clown in the Terrifier films, plays the titular “Mean One.” Given his previous success with making a monster that can be as entertaining as terrifying, he is a perfect match for the role of the antagonist in this Christmas horror comedy.
Directed by Steven Lamorte, the film follows a grown-up Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) who witnessed her mother be murdered by the Christmas-hating green monster years prior. As the trailer shows Cindy arming herself with weapons, Krystle Martin’s character promises to make for a badass female lead.
One marked difference between this film and its source material is that it gives us a monster amongst humans rather than a creature amongst other creatures. Judging by the trailer, that will be far from the only difference offered by the horror parody of the Dr. Seuss Christmas favorite.
He may not stop Christmas from coming, but he will make it his own.
Check out The Mean One in theaters on December 9th!