Back2Stonewall’s Annual 31 Days of HOMO-ween! – Bette Midler In “Hocus Pocus” Backstory and Trivia! (1993)

Okay, okay. Hocus Pocus is a children’s Halloween film released by Disney. But its loved by all and it stars the Divine Miss M. which always makes it a gay old time.

Hocus Pocus started life as a script for a special original movie for the Disney Channel, to be produced by one of the smaller studios owned by The Walt Disney Company, but the script caught the eye of Walt Disney Studios who decided that the film was strong enough to carry well-known names and to attract a cinema audience. The movie was released in the United States in June 1993 (which may have been the major reason for its lackluster box office success) but it has enjoyed immense success as a rental and television movie becoming almost the Halloween equivalent of A Christmas Story.

The idea to cast Bette Midler was partly inspired by Midler’ performance  Walt Disney Company’ first R Rated movie in its Touchstone Pictures line, Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

It’s hard to doubt HP’s gayness when Bette takes to the stage to sing “I Put A Spell On You,” after all the homoerotic bullying, old queen bickering and hot fireman (You’ll want to freeze-frame to capture that last bit) Not to mention the Sanderson sisters’ amazing group number/spell (“dance [parents], dance until you die!”)  where we have Diana Ross and the Supreme costumes and one parent is dressed as Madonna.

If you haven’t seen the movie in a while, now is the time— grab a martini, cast a salt circle and have a watch. 



* The executioner who was responsible for hanging the Sanderson sisters is wearing a leather outfit with metal spikes, a get up a tad too modern for late 17th century Salem. (Perhaps he was looking for the bear bar and got lost in time?)

* A kid wearing a Michael Myers Mask and Clown Suit is seen out the front of the “Devils” house.

* Brother and sister Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall play husband and wife. He’s the one dressed as Satan.

* Several scenes appear in the original trailer that are not included in any theatrical, VHS, or DVD version of the film. They include the kids attempting to push the witches into a pool, the witches being surrounded by trick-or-treaters holding out their hands, and Mary snacking in a grocery store only to be dragged out by Winifred.

* Although the movie features a wild amount of anachronisms, one thing the movie does get right is that the Sanderson sisters would not know what blacktop was, as paved roads didn’t become a thing until the early 1800’s. Macadam roads, which used stones and pebbles to simulate pavement, weren’t introduced until the 18th century. Accuracy hi-five!

* During a 20th anniversary screening of Hocus Pocus, Doug Jones (“Billy Butcherson”) revealed the moths that come out of his mouth at the end of Hocus Pocus are real and not CGI.

* The role of Max Dennison was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio, but was given to Omri Katz when DiCaprio turned it down to appear in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

* When Bette Midler takes the stage at the town Halloween Party, she says “Hello Salem, my name is Winifred. What’s yours?”. This is a take-off of the famous line, “Hello world, my name is Rose, what’s yours?” that is spoken by Mama Rose in the musical “Gypsy”. Midler played Mama Rose in the television version, Gypsy (1993), the same year this film was released.


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