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Small Details You Missed In Hocus Pocus

1993's Hocus Pocus has become a millennial classic. This Halloween romp tells the story of the Sanderson sisters: Winnie (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker). The trio were executed for witchcraft 300 years prior, but modern teen mischief resurrects them just in time for the spookiest holiday of the year. The sinister sisters set about sucking the souls out of Salem's children before the sun comes up, but their plans are thwarted by teenager Max (Omri Katz), his crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and his little sister Dani (Thora Birch).

Hocus Pocus wasn't an immediate success. Given the fact that it's a Halloween movie that premiered in July, this isn't too much of a shock. But it's still managed to become a touchstone for '90s kids everywhere, who are now introducing the movie to their own spawn. Even the most eagle-eyed viewers might not have noticed every detail packed into Hocus Pocus' shadowy corners, however. We're here to take a look at those details you might have missed.

The movie takes place after the witch trials had already ended

Timing is everything. As we learn at the beginning of the film, the Sanderson sisters were hanged for witchcraft on October 31, 1693. The filmmakers no doubt chose that date because they wanted to make their return occur exactly 300 years after they died — and on an appropriately creepy holiday, of course. It's a cool choice, but unfortunately, one that makes the movie slightly anachronistic.

The infamous Salem witch trials mostly took place in 1692, the last trial taking place in May, 1693. By October, no more witch trials were taking place. This isn't a huge problem, really — Hocus Pocus is already taking liberties with history, given the fact that the Sandersons are, well, actual witches. It's easy to believe townsfolk would have taken matters into their own hands upon being confronted with their powers. And anyway, the villagers hanged the sisters the morning after they sucked the life out of little Emily, so no real trial even occurred. Still, the film depends upon its association with the infamous Salem witch trials ... despite taking place after they'd wrapped up.

Halloween 1993 was a Sunday, and not a full moon

Max is the new kid in school, having just moved to Salem, MA from Los Angeles. He spends his first New England Halloween learning about the Sanderson sisters in class. In Salem, Halloween is definitely a fun day, even if you spend half of it in school: Max's teacher sports a witch's hat, the classroom is colorfully decorated, and every student (except Max) is in a festive mood. When the bell rings, the older kids start TP-ing the place and the little kids head out to get ready for a night full of candy and costumes.

The only problem is, October 31 in 1993 fell on a Sunday, so the gang wouldn't have been in school that day. There also wasn't a full moon that night either — it would take another eight years for the full moon to fall on Halloween, in 2001. It's okay though, as the classroom set-up is really just a way to introduce Max and Allison and establish his new-kid bonafides. Really, though, who moves at the end of October?

Allison basically says she's not a virgin

For a Disney movie aimed at kids, there sure is a whole lot of talk about virginity in Hocus Pocus. Watching Hocus Pocus as an adult, there's a definite ick-factor when it comes to this conversation — teenagers seem a lot younger once you're older than they are. It's also incredibly judgmental: Max's virginity is noted as a negative aspect of his personality. His "lack of experience" is constantly mocked, at one point even by an adult. His virginity, the movie makes clear, is something he should be embarrassed by. Teenage dudes of this era weren't supposed to be virgins — but of course, teenage girls absolutely were, lest they be shamed. It's interesting, then, that when Max asks his crush Allison if she wants to light the Black Flame Candle, she sheepishly declines. The Sanderson sisters can only be brought back by a virgin lighting the candle, after all ... suggesting something that flies right over kids' heads about Allison's experiences.

Binx couldn't speak until the candle was lit

At the beginning of the movie, after the Sanderson sisters have killed Emily and turned her brother, Thackery Binx, into a black cat, the townsfolk rise up against the witches. Thackery and Emily's dad asks the sisters what they've done with his son, but Winnie only says, "Cat's got my tongue!" It's at that point that the camera cuts to a black cat rubbing up against Mr. Binx, trying to get his attention. But of course, Thackery's dad doesn't realize that this cat is his son, and kicks the cat away. It's a pretty sad moment, but fans have always wondered why Thackery doesn't talk to his dad here the way he talks to Max, Dani, and Allison later in the movie.

There are a few possibilities here. The first is that Binx had just been turned into a cat, and hadn't yet learned how to speak with a set of feline vocal chords. Another theory considers the idea that Binx is only able to talk to children, because their minds are so open to the idea of magic. The most probable theory, however, is that Binx couldn't talk until the Black Flame Candle was lit. After all, if it was just the children thing, Binx would have verbally warned them about the candle beforehand, instead of just pouncing on Max.

Binx the cat wasn't voiced by the actor who played Thackery

Early in the film, 17th-century teen Thackery Binx (Sean Murray) gets turned into a black cat by the Sanderson sisters. Though Thackery is a cat for most of the film, Murray was actually on set with the main actors the whole time, saying his lines and interacting with the cast. "There was just a lot of fun. A lot of camaraderie. We had a good time," he has said of acting with Katz, Shaw, and Birch.

Despite this, Murray's voice was dubbed over with that of Jason Marsden's ... even when he's in human form. As Murray recalled, "'They weren't exactly sure what they wanted to do with Binx. They originally wanted a sort of California vibe with the voice, and then at some point thought [they] should do it Olde English. I'm not a voice actor; I couldn't do an English accent, I'd never been trained to do that, and I was young." Still, he doesn't have any regrets regarding the vocal replacement, saying Marsden is "a great guy."

Siblings play a married couple

The devil is in the details. And in this instance, the details are that real-world siblings play a married couple in Hocus Pocus. Dearly departed Garry Marshall plays some guy dressed up as Satan for Halloween that the Sanderson sisters mistake for being the actual devil himself. Naturally, when they make themselves at home in his Salem house, his wife gets a little jealous ... especially when Satan starts dancing with the very sultry Sarah. Said wife is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking woman, whose hair curlers convince the sisters that Satan has married Medusa. The wife isn't cowed by this, however, staunchly asking them, "Aren't you broads a little bit old to be trick-or-treating?"

Satan's wife is actually played by the late, great Penny Marshall, Garry's sister. It's a little weird that a legendary brother and sister comedy duo play husband and wife in Hocus Pocus, but really, who better to channel the realities of an annoying spouse than an annoying sibling?

Billy Butcherson is way more famous now

In an effort to track down the kids while they hide in the cemetery, Winnie resurrects Billy Butcherson, an old flame. Super fans will know that this decaying ex is played by the incomparable Doug Jones, an actor whose physical abilities and character work have seen him portray some of the coolest movie characters ever put on screen.

Notably, Hocus Pocus was actually one of the first few films that Jones performed in — he's way more famous now than he was in 1993. In the intervening years, he played multiple aliens in The Outer Limits, the lead Gentleman in the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush," Abe Sapien in Hellboy, the Faun and the Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, the Amphibian Man in the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, and Commander Saru on Star Trek: Discovery. Jones' extensive career is filled with some of the most visually interesting characters of the past few decades, and his brilliance in Hocus Pocus helped start it all.

The witches know too many modern things

The Sanderson sisters sure are familiar with modernity for people who died 300 years prior. For example, Mary references cooking with margarine, when margarine wasn't actually invented until 1869. Mary also says she's going to turn Dani into a "shish-kababy," implying that she knows what a shish kebab is, despite never having eaten one. She also flies a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom, having stumbled upon one in the closet. This implies she'd understand that a vacuum is something like a broom, only more advanced, which its design really wouldn't convey to someone from 1693.

Winnie is also guilty of a few modern anachronisms. First off, despite the fact that the three sisters are unfamiliar with paved roads, town buses, and any kind of automobile, Winnie flies up on her broom alongside Max's getaway car and asks to see his "driver's permit," implying that she knows what one is, why he needs one, and how a cop would ask for one when pulling someone over. But Winnie's biggest modern insight is knowing the music and lyrics to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 1956 hit, "I Put a Spell On You." Sure, they know magic, that could be a factor here. But let's be real: The movie needed an excuse for Bette Midler to sing. And really, we're not too mad about that.

The movie references Midler's career

Hocus Pocus is jam-packed with references to star Bette Midler's career. Before she begins "I Put a Spell on You," Winnie says to the audience, "Hello Salem, my name's Winifred. What's yours?" This is a nod to the line "Hello world, my name's Rose. What's yours?" from the famous musical, Gypsy. Midler starred in a TV movie version of Gypsy that came out in 1993, the very same year that Hocus Pocus hit theaters. Gypsy aired on TV later that year in December, but Gypsy was shot before Hocus Pocus, so Midler may have decided to throw the reference in herself. The whole musical number was also staged and interpreted to mimic Midler's legendary performing style. Additionally, there's also a moment in Hocus Pocus when Mary says, "Oh, Winnie, thou art divine," giving a nod to Midler's nickname and her 1972 debut album, The Divine Miss M.

Binx dies on Emily's grave

The Sanderson sisters are ultimately defeated, their bodies exploding in the light of the rising sun. As they didn't achieve their goal of sucking the life from a child before the sun came up on November 1, all their previous curses are broken. This includes the one placed on Thackery Binx, turning him into a cat for all eternity. Binx the cat doesn't just lie down anywhere to take his final rest, however: He purposefully heads straight to his little sister's 300-year-old grave.

It's a sad moment when Dani finds him lying there, but a tender tribute indeed to the girl he couldn't save. Binx no doubt regretted what happened to Emily for 300 long, lonely years — being able to save Dani became his ultimate redemption. Thankfully, Binx's spirit does get to bid our heroes a final farewell, and is ushered into the afterlife by Emily. All's well that ends well, even if it took three centuries.

Jay and Ice just get left hanging

Hey, remember the bullies, Jay and Ice? Remember how they're just kind of left to die? When Max returns to the Sanderson sisters' house to save Dani and Binx, he finds that his tormentors have been captured by the witches. But instead of letting the guys out of their cages, even when they plead for help, Max just takes his stolen shoes back and leaves them there.

Look, they're probably fine. Someone probably came and got them after the Sanderson sisters were taken down. But when Max left them there, the witches were still alive and totally capable of sucking Jay and Ice's souls away. So not only did Max leave Jay and Ice to fend for themselves, leaving the two there could have allowed the Sanderson sisters to succeed. Being bullied is terrible, but of all the times to take one's revenge, this probably wasn't the best.

The spellbook is still alive at the end, and belongs to Allison

At the end of Hocus Pocus, the Sanderson sisters are dead, Billy is back in his grave, and Binx has traveled to the afterlife to be with his sister. So all is well, right? Not so fast. The spellbook, as we can see in the closing credits of the movie, is still alive. Does it have a new master? 

Very possibly, yes. Throughout the movie, Allison is drawn to the spellbook. She knows all about Salem's history, after all, is a Sanderson sister expert, and, as she tells Dani, is really into witches. She is also able to use magic, albeit in small ways, like circles of salt. Still, she's adept to the point that Winnie calls her a "clever little white witch." Is Allison, in fact, a white witch? She definitely has the potential to be. Even when the sisters are burned in the kiln, she knows that something didn't quite work, meaning they're all still in danger. Maybe a Hocus Pocus sequel could explore the idea of Allison going on to become a powerful white witch in her own right? Time will tell ... as the Sanderson sisters know quite well.