It’s been 300 years, or so it feels, but the Sanderson sisters are finally back… and there’s hell to pay. The original Hocus Pocus, which premiered in 1993, opened to critical condemnation and flopped at the box office. Yet, over the years, the kooky trio has amassed quite the cult following, and the film has become a most-beloved family-friendly Halloween flick.
It’s surprising Disney took almost 30 years to capitalize on the fandom’s obsession and release a sequel. When is Disney one to shy away from a likely moneymaker? Yet, Hocus Pocus 2 is finally available on Disney Plus and all three witches — Bette Midler’s Winifred, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sarah, and Kathy Najimy’s Mary — snap back into character seamlessly, casting a spell on us once more.
The sequel includes many references— some subtle, others more overt — to the original film, and Creepy Catalog is here to address them.
“Amok, amok, amok”
One of Sarah’s most famous lines in Hocus Pocus is a response to Winifred stating, “All Hallow’s Eve has become a night of frolic, in which children wear costumes and run amok!” Parker’s Sarah, overjoyed by the amusing choice of words, utters “amok” over and over again with a childlike elation…until Winifred, growing agitated, elbows her in the gut.
This time around, Winifred uses the phrase when articulating her plan. She says, “We must fly to our ancestral cottage, get book, and brew our potion…Then we run amok in Salem!” Sarah repeats, “amok, amok, amok” as she zig-zags on her WetJet (more on this later) until Winifred yells “Stop That! Don’t make me come over there with this broom.”
Winifred Sanderson uses a sing-songy voice to call for her famous one-eyed spellbook in both Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2. Not only does the musicality of the summoning sound exactly the same, but the book looks unchanged between the two movies. While cinematography has no doubt improved — and Hocus Pocus 2 benefits from such improvements in technology — this book remains just as appropriately aged and mystical as the 17th-century witches calling for it.
The black flame candle
In the 1993 movie, lighting a cursed candle brings the Sanderson sisters back to life. The flame is not red, but black as night. Max lights the candle believing all the stories of the Sanderson Sisters to be no more than innocuous “hocus pocus,” but he’s in for quite the surprise.
In Hocus Pocus 2, two friends light the candle in the woods, bringing the sisters back once more to wreak havoc on the town of Salem and all its inhabitants. Now, the sisters face 21st-century technological roadblocks. They’ve grown accustomed to concrete roads, but what about convex security mirrors and retinol-based skincare products?
Rousing musical numbers
Who could forget Bette Midler singing “I Put a Spell on You,” with SJP and Kathy Najimy on backup vocals in Hocus Pocus? In the first movie, this is the song the sisters use to cast a spell over the town of Salem, turning all its residents into their obedient zombie-like servants.
30 years later, we get Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and a widescale choreographed dance that rivals the likes of Time Warp, as well as a take on Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back,” (appropriately renamed “The Witch Is Back”). Both musical numbers are upbeat and perfect for a sing-a-long session.
“Twist the bones and bend the back. Itch-it-a-cop-it-a-melaka-mystica. Trim him of his baby fat. Itch-it-a-cop-it-a-melaka-mystica. Give him fur black as black. Just. Like. This.” It’s the enchantment that curses Thackery Binx to immortality as a black cat in Hocus Pocus. All three sisters face the young boy and utter the spell with nefarious delight, turning the boy into a hissing feline before their eyes. (Thackery Binx’s original tombstone also makes a quick, blink-and-you-miss-it appearance).
In the sequel, the Sanderson sisters once again fix this jibberish-filled rhyme into their spells, as do the three young girls who become their own coven at the film’s conclusion. They use the enchantment to return Winifred to the sisters she has unknowingly sacrificed for strength and immortality via the “Magica Maxima” spell.
The Sanderson stride
They lift up their dresses. They stand side-by-side (bodies virtually touching) as they walk. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot — and a menacing huff to accompany each step forward. It’s the highly recognizable Sanderston stride — melodramatic and maniacal. It’s seen in both films, and it’s just as deliciously deviant 30 years later. In Hocus Pocus 2, we even see the three best girlfriends who face the Sanderson sisters adapt the stride as the movie closes. Do we have a new coven of witches prepping to run amok?
“Come Little Children”
In the 1993 film, Sarah sings this lullaby-esque tune to lure children so she and her sisters can suck their souls and seize their youth. The sequel opens with the Sanderson sisters as children, and an elder, wiser witch (portrayed by Hannah Waddingham) can be heard singing the tune — calling to the three budding sorceresses.
The calming circle rears its head again in Hocus Pocus 2. A ritual Mary suggests in times of tension, the calming circle first features in Hocus Pocus when Winifred begins to doubt their potential for success — right after Max kicks over the cauldron filled with life potion.
In Hocus Pocus 2, Mary first suggests the circle when the Sanderson sisters are children (after they run into the woods to escape angry townsfolk). This brief origin snippet reveals just how long the Sandersons have been relying on this method of squelching anxiety.
Take to the skies…on whatever you can find
Sometimes, a broom isn’t exactly handy. And, in Hocus Pocus, when children steal the witches’ broomsticks, Mary is forced to ride a vacuum and Sarah takes to the skies on a mop. This time, the three sisters find themselves led to a modern “apothecary” (AKA Walgreens). When it’s time to fly, Mary is forced onto two rumbas and Sarah grabs a bubbling Swiffer WetJet.
“I Smell Children”
Mary is known for her nose in both films, and she can always smell children lurking in the shadows. Thus, her famous phrase —“I smell children” — makes its way back into the sequel as the witches search for the innocent virgins who summoned them, Izzy and Becca.
There are several references to the original film via the townsfolks’ costumes. Once again, there’s a man dressed as a devil whose wife has the same curlers in her hair that Penny Marshall did in the first film. There’s also three women in red referencing The Supremes, which harkens back to the three women who wore similar outfits when the Sanderson sisters performed “I Put a Spell on You.” And, in a blink and you miss it moment, there’s a woman wearing the same Madonna-like getup with the cone-shaped bra that Max and Dani’s mom wore in the first film. And these are only the most memorable costumes taken from the film’s predecessor.
Sunrise? Nope. Just a small bus
In the original Hocus Pocus, Dani, Max, and Allison use the headlights of a pick-up truck to imitate a sunrise and escape the witch’s grasp. The sequel nods to that moment when Mayor Trask pulls up in his driveway and the Sanderson sisters are awaiting him in the garage — trapped by salt. At first, Mary thinks it’s a sunrise and utters “I don’t want to die.” Yet, she soon comes to her senses and says, “Oh oopsie. My mistake. It’s just a very small bus.”
Sarah and Mary bid Salem farewell…again
Who could forget Mary’s famous last line that she utters right before turning to dust in Hocus Pocus? “Buh-bye.” She says this once more when she fades into oblivion in the sequel, and Sarah once again gives audiences a pensive and elegant “goodbye.”
More nods to 1993’s Hocus Pocus
- Hocus Pocus is playing on someone’s television in the sequel.
- Billy Butcherson calls himself a “good zombie” — the same way Max described him to Allison in the first film.
- There’s a new black cat named Cobweb that may also be a trapped spirit like Thackery Binx, but the movie doesn’t confirm this.
- The Sanderson sisters’ cottage is repurposed as a modern magic and witchcraft shop.