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Things You Forgot Happened In Hocus Pocus

"It's all just a bunch of hocus pocus." That may be true, but 1993's fantasy comedy film "Hocus Pocus" is the seasonal treat that's just as sweet decades later. Each year as the spooky season approaches, horror fans sing its praises and push play on the movie yet again. Each viewing is just as pleasant as the last –– yet there's always something new to pick up on.

"Hocus Pocus" follows the Sanderson Sisters, a wacky group of wicked witches who face execution in 1693 Salem at the beginning of the film; to escape their fate, they curse themselves to outlast the townspeople by allowing themselves to be resurrected in the future. Three hundred years later, they're inadvertently summoned back to the world of the living on Halloween night by teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz). Max, who recently moved to Salem, Massachusetts from Los Angeles, California, teams up with his Halloween-loving sister Dani (Thora Birch), his crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and a cursed, immortal black cat who was once human, Thackery Binx (voiced by Jason Marsden), to stop the witches.

Even though "Hocus Pocus" is a popular film during the Halloween season, there are still plenty of occurrences that are easy to forget –– given, of course, that the film was released in the early '90s and that even modern fans tend to go a year between each ceremonial viewing. For anyone who'd like a refresher, we're here to reacquaint you with the events of "Hocus Pocus" you might have forgotten.

The Sanderson Sisters' book is pretty demonic

"Hocus Pocus" is a pretty whimsical, PG-rated film, so it's not always easy to remember the truly dark aspects, especially when you're not actively looking for them. Viewers, for example, might not remember how demonic the Sanderson Sisters' book really was. When you think about it as an animate object with a real eyeball placed on the front, and bound with human flesh for good measure ... It's pretty disturbing. The book can even float when called. The capper is that it's supposedly a gift from the devil himself.

But seriously, a sentient, blinking book that can, in a sense, read you as well as you can read it? That's the definition of creepy. And considering that the contents are cursed, all this could easily have been the makings of a worse-than-PG-rated horror film. "Hocus Pocus" is a cult classic worth singing about that has fans of all ages, but let's not forget that this book, complete with its mysterious lore, is a portrayal of something truly unholy.

At the same time, Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson (Bette Midler) treats the spellbook like her pet, which is somehow eerie yet endearing — an example of how this film routinely defuses horrific elements with comedy. She seems to prize this possession than she values even her own two sisters, Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy). Although movies tend to be dated with their special effects, the spellbook in "Hocus Pocus" remains sinister to this day when you really think about it.

The Sanderson Sisters curse themselves

At the beginning of the film, the Sanderson Sisters are caught in a vile act by the townspeople. Just before they're executed, the witches put a "curse" on themselves so they won't die (at least not for good) when they're hung. While we're not trying to pick any nits, if they had this kind of magic at their disposal, it seems like they could have just as easily cursed the town itself or escaped the execution altogether. Winifred alone shoots what appears to be lightning out of her hands.

Nevertheless, on October 31, 1693, in Salem, Massachusetts, the Sanderson Sisters cast a spell that will allow them to be resurrected during a full moon on All Hallows' Eve when a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle inside their cottage. Although the sister witches could have seemingly escaped their execution in a plethora of other spooky ways, their self-induced curse sets up a perfectly splendid Halloween tale. Whether audience members recall the movie starting with this malediction or not, the magical act makes it possible for the sisters' story to continue –– and ultimately allows a virgin, Max, to light the candle 300 years in the future.

The witches' modern-day knowledge is contradictory

The Sanderson Sisters are afraid of everyday things in modern life — such as a black road, water coming out of ceiling fire sprinklers, and a fire truck — because they've been gone for 300 years and aren't used to living in the 20th century. At first, they think firefighters are witch hunters, and they don't even know what a bus is. They're also afraid of the trick-or-treaters dressed up in costumes because they don't understand that they're dressed up for Halloween. After all, the concept of Halloween has changed quite drastically since they last walked the earth. And this is all well and good.

But because comedic elements need to be pumped into the film, for the sake of laughter and plot, the witches also somehow know about specific modern fixtures such as driver's licenses despite their gaps in knowledge elsewhere. Although Winnie is just making a joke by asking to see Max's driver's permit while riding her broom next to his car, she shouldn't have any concept of a driver's permit at all, given that the witches were banished for 300 years. She thinks that roads are "black rivers," but somehow knows you need a license to drive on one?

In one of the most memorable scenes of the movie, Winnie also knows the lyrics to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 1956 hit "I Put a Spell on You." While viewers will likely be able to recall that detail, as Midler's rendition is a treat, they might not remember enough to question the witches' knowledge of certain modern-day technologies and occurrences and not others.

The witches can't set foot in the graveyard

Thanks to the Black Flame Candle raging on, the Sanderson Sisters are immortal for a night –– and this immortality will last beyond Halloween if they take the souls of children on All Hallows' Eve. The temporary immortality is also how they survive being burned alive in the school's kiln: Nothing can harm them on this night. However, there's apparently one exception — the witches can't set foot on hallowed ground. This means they can't set foot in the graveyard and survive.

But for some reason, they can get around this stipulation by simply flying above the graveyard. And they can have plenty of indirect interaction with the burial ground: Winifred at one point resurrects disloyal lover William "Billy" Butcherson (Doug Jones) as a zombie so that he can do her dirty work for her and chase Max, Allison, Dani, and Binx through the cemetery. (Though this eventually backfires when Billy, who's in phenomenal shape for someone who has been dead for centuries, switches teams.)

The witches, therefore, can still influence the dead and living lurking within the graveyard, and they can soar above it, but their bodies can't physically be on the graveyard's soil. While these minute logistics might be easily overlooked, especially if you haven't seen this comedy-fantasy film in a while, it does foreshadow what's to come by the movie's end ...

Children dressed like the Sanderson Sisters steal the real Sisters' brooms

Because it's overshadowed by ensuing events, it's not always easy to remember that three trick-or-treating children, who are dressed like the legendary Sanderson Sisters, take the real witches' brooms after they leave them outside. Unfortunately, we don't see the brooms nor the little witches again.

Letting the imagination run wild, it's hard not to wonder what happened. Were the children able to fly on the brooms, or is that a talent only witches have? This event alone could have led to a kooky spin-off production, and one will always wonder what happened after the three children took the magical brooms. But this does set up another funny scene: In lieu of her pilfered broom, Sarah uses a mop to fly, and Mary is left with a vacuum on which to cruise around in the night sky. Winifred, of course, still gets to use a broom.

Serving more as a brief opportunity for comedy than a fully elaborated-upon event, this is a small detail that's easy to forget, nestled inside the broader events of "Hocus Pocus."

The witches pay a visit to Old Scratch

The Sanderson Sisters are invited into what they believe is the actual devil's house. Unknown to them, this version of Old Scratch isn't the real devil –– as previously mentioned, the witches aren't always aware of common modern-day realities and traditions, such as the knowledge that humans dress up in costumes on Halloween. This devil is nothing more than a man dressed up as Satan on the spookiest night of the year.

The Sanderson Sisters apparently take their orders from the real devil, so naturally, they go into the man's house. While this man, who's played by Garry Marshall in an uncredited role listed simply as "Devil (Husband)," is infatuated by the three witches, the "Master's Wife" (Penny Marshall) is rightfully unimpressed — especially after she catches Sarah dancing with her husband.

In keeping with the joke about the sisters not understanding modern times, Winnie hilariously thinks the kitchen is a torture chamber, and Mary is enthralled by the TV remote as it somehow magically changes what's on the screen. Finishing off the scene, the Master's Wife commands her small dog, who is dressed as a demon, to chase the witches out of the house.

Because this scene doesn't provide much to the actual plot (the actors aren't even credited, after all!), it's easy to forget –– but it's worth remembering for providing absurd comic relief to an already far-fetched film.

The kids trick-or-treat unsupervised while the parents throw a rager

While the scene where Winifred performs "I Put a Spell on You" at a Halloween party is a rather memorable aspect of the movie –– not to mention essential to the plot as it allows the witches to put a spell on the parents so they can lure the children to their cottage –– it's easier to forget that the children seemingly trick-or-treat unsupervised while the parents are at this party.

And this is before the spell was cast upon them! Apparently, even when not under magical influence, the parents are negligent enough to throw a rager while their kids wander the streets alone. Salem has a dark and haunted history revolving around witch trials that horror fans eat up, so one would think the parents would supervise their kids on the scariest night of the year in this infernal town.

Nevertheless, it might take a second viewing of this Halloween classic to notice that parental supervision isn't prioritized in "Hocus Pocus." Luckily, Max accompanies his little sister during the festivities. Unluckily, this also leads to Max eventually trying to impress Allison by lighting the Black Flame Candle –– and madness ensues.

Winifred is really mean to her sisters

After a second or third course of "Hocus Pocus," it's impossible to ignore how mean Winifred is to her sisters. She is, at the very least, quite selfish: She gets the best broom, wants the potion all for herself at the beginning of the movie, calls all the shots, and dominates as the lead singer in the "I Put a Spell on You" number. Even though Mary uses her talents to smell out children, and Sarah obediently follows her commands, Winnie constantly puts her sisters down despite all the help they give her. Sarah and Mary walk on eggshells around Winifred throughout the entire film.

As a whole, these aren't the brightest witches — or maybe they're just hindered by their own conflicts. On countless occasions, they have the chance to use their powers to get what they want. Their bickering and Winifred's dominance over her sisters are portrayed as a joke, but these things genuinely get in the witches' way! Mary and Sarah deserved better from their sister, although we'll forever root for Winifred. And while witches are portrayed as evil in this movie, we can't help but lament that if Winifred hadn't been so selfishly hell-bent on consuming Dani's soul, the Sanderson Sisters could have lived to curse another day –– and we definitely would have been all for watching these witches maneuver the trials and tribulations of everyday life in the 20th century.

Winifred turns to stone

Before the sunrise ultimately kills her, Winifred turns to stone because she steps foot in the graveyard. Her sister witches, on the other hand, explode while they're in the air, above the graveyard. This is an important detail, yet easy to overlook because so much happens at once at the climax of the film.

Paying off the information that the witches can't step foot in the on hallowed ground, Winifred turns to stone when she falls onto the premises of the cemetery during a scuffle with Max. This works out great for him, as he's just swallowed the witches' potion that would allow his soul to be stolen. If Winifred were in the air, she wouldn't have turned to stone, and his soul would've been successfully sucked up by the witch just before the sun rose, granting her immortality beyond Halloween night.

Luckily for Max, Winnie tumbles onto the graveyard grounds and turns to stone before she can finish taking his life force, and she's blown up by the sunrise shortly after as the Black Flame Candle goes out.

The spellbook is still very much alive

Whether you remember it this way or not, "Hocus Pocus" ends on a cliffhanger. Sure, the witches are stopped by the expiration of the same curse they put on themselves, but their spellbook remains. In case viewers don't remember, the movie ends with the book's eye opening ominously. There have been countless fan theories surrounding this event since 1993: Many people believe the book is now in Allison's possession, who is also rumored to be a white witch herself. The biggest indicator? Winifred actually calls her a "white witch," so we at least know that good witches are potentially part of the "Hocus Pocus" universe; whether Allison is actually one of them or not, we hope we'll encounter them in the sequel.

For all it's worth, when "Hocus Pocus" ends, the bullies are still locked in the cages at the Sanderson Sisters' cottage, which is the place the spellbook is last seen opening its sinister eye. This is also something that can easily go over the heads of audience members, and now that we think about it, we really hope none of those bullies got their hands on the book. Whatever the case, the Sanderson Sisters have been stopped, and though the spellbook may be awake and waiting to be opened, the film ends on a pleasant note — for now. Fans are waiting patiently to see what happens next when "Hocus Pocus 2," at long last, curses the theaters.