At Halloween, Hocus Pocus reigns supreme over Halloweentown


Choosing between Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown for your All Hallows’ Eve movie night? Sorry, Grandma Aggie, The Sanderson Sisters have you beat.

When the Halloween season rolls in, there are certain movies that are basically required watching. Hocus Pocus and the Halloweentown movies are at the top of that list. But who really deserves the top spot?

It’s not a trick question: Hocus Pocus.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Halloweentown as much as any 90’s kid. I’d never suggest it’s a bad movie. But, as I’ve watched and rewatched (and rewatched again) these films over the years, I’ve come to see the light — thanks to the black flame candle.

Spook Factor

Okay, confession: I didn’t watch Hocus Pocus in its entirety until I was in the back half of my teens. I know, I was running amok, amok, amok. But this is solely because I was always a bit scared of the movie. Hocus Pocus may be a comedy, but it has no shortage of eery moments.

The opening scene alone is enough to make any kid nervous. As Sarah Sanderson sings Emily Binx into a trance and lures her into the woods, the reality of the witches’ darkness sets in. Throughout the film, similar moments are spread out, but there’s enough in there for those easily scared to need a bit of moral support.

In comparison to Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus is almost an actual horror movie. The witches are all evil, albeit hilarious, two out of three heroes find themselves near death, and the zombie in this one isn’t all that friendly.

On its own, Hocus Pocus strikes a perfect balance. But, even for kids, Halloween always needs at least a little bit of creepy, spine-chilling moments.


Storytelling aside, Hocus Pocus has one of the best casts, probably ever.

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy brought the Sanderson sisters to life with ease, and had fun doing it. In fact, all three have supported the idea of returning to their roles in a Hocus Pocus sequel. (Though with a remake in the works, that seems less likely now.)

For the movie’s heroes, filmmakers turned to lesser known actors, who were brilliant all the same. Omri Katz, Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw played Max, Dani and Allison, respectively.

Behind the camera, Hocus Pocus nabbed one of the best directors in the game: Kenny Ortega. Yes, the guy who brought us the High School Musical franchise also brought us Hocus Pocus. (Winifred’s big showstopper makes more sense now right? More on that shortly.)

Of course, it can’t be overlooked that Halloweentown scored Debbie Reynolds. In fact, she took the part for her granddaughter, Billie Lourd. But in comparing the casts as a whole, Hocus Pocus wins out.

Iconic Moments

The beauty of both Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown is that they’ve survived the test of time. And really, how could they not? Grandma Aggie taught us:


And Max reassured us:


There won’t likely be a Halloween in the near future where we aren’t quoting these movies. I concede Halloweentown might have the best quotes, but nothing can touch Bette Midler’s performance in Hocus Pocus.

Take a moment to relive it:

Somehow, this cover still isn’t on iTunes, but if it were, you can bet it’d be on almost every Halloween playlist.

It became so popular that it’s now the central element of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in Walt Disney World. During the nightly show at the castle, the Sanderson sisters return and recruit some of Disney’s most nefarious villains.

Even the costumes of the Sandersons have become a favored trio option when Halloween itself hits.

At the end of the night, both Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown are great movie choices. But if you can only pick one, pick Hocus Pocus.

Next: Why you should watch The Others this Halloween

Come little children, I’ll take thee away…