RT Podcast

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... Hocus Pocus

This Rotten Halloween favorite is still conjuring box office magic: Did the critics get it wrong, or are millions of Millennials too bewitched by nostalgia to see its warts?

by | October 22, 2020 | Comments

Hocus Pocus

(Photo by © Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection)

Sometimes we forget what came first out of Hocus Pocus and Halloween itself, so firmly attached has the 1993 film become to the ghoulish October holiday. It seems that every year, as regular as the changing of the leaves, Millennials drag this Disney comedy out from its dormancy like three youth-obsessed cacklers to revel once more in its over-the-top performances, zany musical numbers, and lashings of nostalgia. People still can’t get enough: Just two weeks ago Hocus Pocus was number 3 at the U.S. box office, and a reunion special is set to air shortly.

Back when it first flew into theaters though, the movie couldn’t even crack the top three, opening in fourth spot before disappearing quickly. Reviews too were far from magical, with critics lamenting that while Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy were great fun as Salem’s back-from-beyond Sanderson sisters, all that delicious ham was wasted on a film that was too full of plot and ideas on the one hand (bullies! zombies!), and mediocre at best on the other. (Also: Did two kids just die in the opening sequence!? And what is with all this virginity chat!?)

Listen Now:  Spotify |  Apple Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  TuneIn  |  Google Podcasts | Radio Public | Deezer | iHeart | Art19

Just like Winnie, Sarah, and Mary, though, Kenny Ortega’s film had something of a second life, casting its spell on millions of youngsters when it hit home video and, crucially, the Disney Channel. Those kids grew up and have pushed its Audience Score way up to 71%, just shy of double its Rotten 37% Tomatometer. Which is some divide. And so, with our fire good and caldron bubbling, we’re asking in our latest episode of podcast Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong: Is Hocus Pocus actually a good film dismissed too quickly back in the day? Or is it just as bad as the critics said it was, its fans’ vision fogged up by nostalgia-colored glasses (worn over the top of the two holes in their ghost sheets).

Joining hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis is Syfy Wire Associate Features Editor Caitlin M. Busch, who has some definite thoughts on the beloved, bizarre, and strangely horny Halloween classic.

Be sure to check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”

If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.

Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

a nightmare on elm street christmas movies Box Office psychological thriller dramedy comiccon Fox News Sony Pictures Cosplay Pop TV renewed TV shows The Purge Lifetime Christmas movies science fiction GoT book stoner mutant TLC superhero BBC One criterion TCM Heroines The Arrangement Fox Searchlight ratings toy story Marvel Television Disney NBC Britbox twilight CBS All Access Syfy historical drama Apple TV+ Rom-Com Pop SundanceTV CBS Nickelodeon TV festival Tumblr GIFs Music adventure RT21 Warner Bros. HBO Go blaxploitation Reality Comedy blockbuster YA dogs Universal Year in Review WarnerMedia Super Bowl HBO japanese MCU TNT franchise 24 frames Western Disney Channel Binge Guide TV Land sports Columbia Pictures fresh Rocky casting spinoff joker Alien social media Infographic Television Academy sequel APB cancelled television richard e. Grant Fantasy worst movies singing competition Ovation Starz 21st Century Fox Mystery toronto psycho DC Comics President RT History The CW DGA strong female leads GLAAD American Society of Cinematographers Biopics mission: impossible VOD Fall TV Disney Plus Oscars National Geographic First Reviews Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Marathons cartoon news facebook australia LGBT Tubi BBC America elevated horror stand-up comedy spain hollywood crossover transformers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt screenings The Walking Dead Emmys war Podcast CW Seed Stephen King films composers talk show Marvel Holiday series San Diego Comic-Con reboot screen actors guild cinemax scorecard BAFTA The Witch Hallmark Captain marvel Polls and Games Character Guide cats Writers Guild of America police drama TCA Winter 2020 true crime 2019 A&E Set visit travel 2020 classics Hear Us Out Grammys halloween Elton John Film Festival chucky Esquire Sneak Peek History name the review Amazon Studios El Rey Sci-Fi anime boxoffice independent X-Men indie Valentine's Day Kids & Family stop motion video on demand Musicals adaptation YouTube Premium comedies Showtime Thanksgiving 20th Century Fox doctor who Tomatazos Winners archives zero dark thirty italian disaster Funimation Disney streaming service cancelled TV shows Pixar MSNBC period drama OWN zombie canceled TV shows Pet Sematary Country Amazon what to watch Freeform foreign robots Countdown Sundance rotten movies we love BET Awards zombies aliens diversity PaleyFest 2017 sequels hispanic french comics movie CMT laika crime drama Ellie Kemper Star Wars directors sag awards FOX Holidays CNN Disney+ Disney Plus DirecTV Animation 2018 james bond Crackle Black History Month cults television miniseries 2015 Awards critics Drama cooking FX Brie Larson Mary Poppins Returns romantic comedy biography black serial killer boxing animated documentary game show BBC video breaking bad Toys deadpool space Lucasfilm SDCC Watching Series Television Critics Association festivals DC streaming service Cartoon Network NYCC Arrowverse kids obituary Hallmark Christmas movies Mary poppins Crunchyroll anthology child's play Comics on TV WGN thriller Lionsgate Creative Arts Emmys Nominations Mary Tyler Moore children's TV Discovery Channel Netflix Film TruTV finale ABC Family discovery Lifetime Epix 45 Star Trek LGBTQ venice Mudbound Reality Competition A24 Chernobyl crime thriller sitcom cancelled Cannes Amazon Prime indiana jones Musical Rock Red Carpet teaser 72 Emmy Awards Black Mirror comic books Martial Arts rt archives VICE spider-man Summer based on movie harry potter universal monsters TV renewals medical drama green book PlayStation Certified Fresh Action Sundance TV The Academy OneApp VH1 Anna Paquin dark ITV supernatural golden globes natural history Winter TV spanish die hard versus rotten Netflix Christmas movies Family cancelled TV series Masterpiece unscripted E3 batman 71st Emmy Awards Endgame E! Superheroes 99% quibi Quiz Adult Swim Spike south america Horror cars Extras Classic Film movies Shondaland IFC binge First Look Acorn TV TCA Awards Mindy Kaling Comic Book USA Network 2016 Bravo hist satire FXX Interview Amazon Prime Video New York Comic Con AMC canceled tv talk slashers technology Academy Awards dc Photos comic scary movies jamie lee curtis TCA 2017 007 Ghostbusters Comedy Central vampires ID worst nbcuniversal best Pride Month football romance ABC Rocketman fast and furious remakes Baby Yoda HBO Max Apple TV Plus Superheroe YouTube Red dceu documentaries Premiere Dates Trivia MTV spanish language all-time Paramount Network Nat Geo latino Opinion reviews Women's History Month dragons Tarantino Trophy Talk nature Peacock crime Election Trailer award winner Hulu justice league Vudu political drama docudrama Emmy Nominations Best and Worst cops TBS Shudder ESPN Food Network Logo 4/20 parents halloween tv Turner Classic Movies Travel Channel BET Song of Ice and Fire witnail Awards Tour concert Sundance Now USA Paramount YouTube revenge SXSW Schedule IFC Films FX on Hulu Turner TCA ghosts Marvel Studios Calendar See It Skip It PBS emmy awards theme song werewolf Dark Horse Comics Spectrum Originals asian-american Teen spy thriller DC Universe free movies Pirates mockumentary Apple streaming game of thrones TIFF Walt Disney Pictures Video Games nfl Christmas politics Spring TV Avengers