Twenty-nine years ago, Disney released a movie that I think even surprised them because it became so successful and popular so quickly. Hocus Pocus, has over the years attained a kind of cult following, and I have to say I am one of those followers, with the movie being essential viewing at Halloween, for myself and my children, well that family tradition has now been passed onto to them and their children, and Hocus Pocus is probably a film that we all just love unconditionally. It seemed as soon as the end credits began to roll in 1993, audiences all over the world were crying out for a sequel and let’s face it , it deserved to have one.
Alas after hearing so many times that a sequel was in the works, I as did many gave up on Disney. But they say that all good things come to those who wait, and now streaming on Disney + is Hocus Pocus 2, I thought it strange that it should be released a full month before Halloween, but Disney know what they’re doing right? After watching the movie, I did feel that it was a little less affecting as the original, and there were certain scenes and lines I also felt were a little hammy. But its Hocus Pocus guys, its fine. The Sanderson sisters are back, and its about time.
Returning to reprise their original roles are Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson, Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson and Doug Jones as William Billy Butcherson who was Winfred’s sweetheart and apparently cheated on her with her sister Sarah. Sadly, as you’ll find out when you see the movie, these are the only original characters that have survived, there is no Thackery Binx, no Dani, who was played by Thora Birch, Omri Katz who played Max or Vinessa Shaw who portrayed Allison are nowhere to be seen, but there is a black cat in the cast called cobweb.
There is however a fresh cast of faces and characters, that ably carry on the legacy and the atmosphere that has been established by the original film. I did feel at times that the set piece songs were not necessary, especially when we see the Sanderson sisters resurrected in the forbidden wood, which kind of cheapens the whole coming back to life thing and the witches returning to impose their evil on Salem, turning it into a cabaret. They also perform One Way or Another, (I hate that song) but that is kind of a clever inclusion to the film’s storyline. Ok, Hocus Pocus (1993) purists, will probably be thinking what’s happened here, but like I always say its horses for courses, and it is an effective updating of the Hocus Pocus franchise.
Three hundred years pass in the movie, with the story opening in the town of Salem in 1653, which I thought worth doing as it tells us more of how the Sanderson sisters became witches, giving us more of a background to their relationship and how it was that Winnie became the prominent one in the trio of spell makers.
Hocus Pocus 2, has to it all the comedic and dramatic content that the original had, plus it has a degree more sensitivity, showing an emotional side to certain characters, let’s just say that you will believe a witch has a heart, even feel sorry for her and that a spell book can shed a tear.
It also effectively opens a new Hocus Pocus chapter as it introduces us to another trio of young witches, and that I hope will be another story that Disney might explore in the future (hopefully before 2051). Could this be the end of the Sanderson sisters? What do you think? Trick or Treat?
The musical score is by the Hocus Pocus composer John Debney, who has rekindled many of his original thematic material to enhance and support the three witches’ new adventure, he also works into the fabric of the new score the haunting theme as composed by James Horner, Come Little Children, as performed by Sarah Jessica Parker back in 1993 as her character Sarah Sanderson calls to the children of Salem.
John Debney has fashioned a wonderfully mischievous, sweeping, and raucous sounding work for the sequel. The now familiar central theme becoming the foundation and the mainstay of the work, the string section working overtime driving the work at pace, whilst the composer adds percussive elements, rasping and powerful brass flourishes and stabs, and heart felt woods.
There is darkness and light purveyed by the music, drama, tension and a jaunty and comedic air. The composer coloring and adding depth, atmosphere, and emotion to the proceedings. The soundtrack album we are told will be getting a compact disc release, but it is already available on the likes of Spotify, a twenty-eight-track recording, which consists of eighteen score cues, and nine songs, some of which are originals such as The Witches are Back performed by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. But it is without a doubt John Debney’s music that shines within this movie and makes for great listening away from it. The film and the soundtrack are highly recommended.