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

new york robots Awards Tour toy story richard e. Grant Shondaland CBS All Access Columbia Pictures news science fiction Sundance TV Universal renewed TV shows BAFTA heist movie YouTube Premium TV movies rotten Best and Worst Endgame crossover 24 frames Amazon Prime Legendary First Look Paramount Network composers Peacock Opinion Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt romance 93rd Oscars mockumentary superman BBC America The CW Superheroes Red Carpet Dark Horse Comics marvel cinematic universe Photos Film Festival Funimation criterion hollywood sequels Amazon zero dark thirty video on demand docuseries Schedule based on movie remakes Sci-Fi worst movies ABC Signature parents Biopics black twilight 4/20 all-time Watching Series foreign indiana jones 2020 Mary Poppins Returns ID WGN politics New York Comic Con witnail australia women cancelled MSNBC independent theme song E3 Mudbound dogs sag awards 71st Emmy Awards The Academy finale Star Trek Comic Book Extras harry potter spanish Thanksgiving book adaptation stop motion HBO Go Hallmark DC Universe TV Land Horror blockbuster CNN Starz Trailer festivals RT21 Netflix Christmas movies fresh kong Mary poppins dragons tv talk Fall TV nbcuniversal FOX laika Spectrum Originals FX Countdown PBS YouTube Red indie Emmys cinemax sports documentary high school superhero reboot Lionsgate cancelled TV shows versus American Society of Cinematographers BET Awards Ghostbusters Academy Awards true crime Shudder series Stephen King obituary NYCC Spring TV adventure Rocketman BBC One Christmas 2018 nfl Travel Channel a nightmare on elm street halloween Anna Paquin TCA 2017 Masterpiece razzies franchise movies The Walt Disney Company canceled TV shows what to watch Election 2021 cartoon prank casting blockbusters japanese Freeform zombies Film aliens USA Network Quiz Trivia OWN jamie lee curtis rt archives APB die hard natural history ABC Family Captain marvel werewolf Fox News Hear Us Out Calendar binge Food Network Video Games south america The Walking Dead international sitcom E! 72 Emmy Awards scary movies 2019 Certified Fresh Cannes mission: impossible CMT Marvel Oscars mutant spanish language Pride Month scorecard Creative Arts Emmys comiccon Crackle psychological thriller breaking bad political drama green book emmy awards YouTube DGA Tarantino BBC zombie FXX Trophy Talk diversity jurassic park TruTV deadpool chucky IFC boxoffice Black Mirror godzilla HBO Chernobyl Musical Vudu crime drama Fox Searchlight Musicals name the review ghosts Crunchyroll classics Warner Bros. MTV telelvision target cults Winter TV directors latino VICE Cosplay Grammys hidden camera cops Paramount cars San Diego Comic-Con elevated horror Star Wars anime Acorn TV Amazon Prime Video comic OneApp GLAAD transformers HBO Max rom-coms Spike History 99% Reality new zealand Rock AMC worst ITV ABC video spinoff Action Women's History Month A24 football TIFF Logo Toys Paramount Plus universal monsters Holiday SDCC Turner Discovery Channel thriller cats asian-american X-Men 20th Century Fox trailers CBS Sony Pictures Binge Guide Disney streaming service The Arrangement television TV ViacomCBS free movies TCA Awards Marvel Studios Writers Guild of America adaptation Box Office boxing facebook kaiju ESPN award winner Interview Mystery dramedy Rom-Com Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comedies biography Polls and Games crime thriller rotten movies we love serial killer medical drama Bravo Elton John Tomatazos Pixar talk show Syfy spain child's play Apple strong female leads Pet Sematary Exclusive Video Ellie Kemper Television Critics Association Television Academy Infographic SundanceTV discovery Reality Competition fast and furious cooking vampires scene in color Heroines 007 Marvel Television Super Bowl Song of Ice and Fire Pirates book popular Pop reviews Sundance TBS Music animated Comedy Family Esquire SXSW nature stoner dceu Disney Holidays critics hispanic lord of the rings unscripted italian Lifetime Christmas movies Apple TV Plus Broadway Brie Larson singing competition streaming Emmy Nominations The Purge Adult Swim Turner Classic Movies Tubi Disney Plus El Rey DC Comics Cartoon Network TV renewals children's TV 2016 technology war Sundance Now hist golden globe awards james bond GoT screen actors guild festival Disney Channel slashers Avengers 2017 Ovation Hallmark Christmas movies blaxploitation Lucasfilm Premiere Dates know your critic comic books french TNT satire MCU saw concert TCA Showtime Baby Yoda Tumblr monster movies Pacific Islander VOD social media TLC TV One Awards venice historical drama USA VH1 Disney+ Disney Plus Rocky Epix The Witch spy thriller golden globes LGBTQ Year in Review disaster Teen Mindy Kaling supernatural streaming movies ratings Alien NBC space 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards docudrama Arrowverse WarnerMedia spider-man Animation pirates of the caribbean President best new star wars movies joker Apple TV+ Martial Arts Walt Disney Pictures miniseries First Reviews dark kids Fantasy Character Guide toronto christmas movies romantic comedy YA 45 archives live action teaser screenings crime Set visit justice league A&E DC streaming service cancelled television game show See It Skip It Netflix Country LGBT RT History BET travel GIFs PlayStation movie quibi Amazon Studios king kong Britbox Valentine's Day Comics on TV Black History Month cancelled TV series Summer canceled 2015 Podcast Drama TCA Winter 2020 Comedy Central Marathons dc Nickelodeon game of thrones IFC Films Hulu batman sequel Nat Geo stand-up comedy Sneak Peek comics 21st Century Fox documentaries Mary Tyler Moore anthology CW Seed films DirecTV Lifetime police drama revenge halloween tv Pop TV Winners doctor who Nominations psycho FX on Hulu period drama Image Comics Superheroe Kids & Family Classic Film TCM National Geographic Western PaleyFest aapi