It's been more than 25 years since Hocus Pocus came out in 1993, yet the love for this Halloween cult classic seems to grow every year. Have you ever wondered what happened backstage on the set of the iconic film? We've collected some facts about Hocus Pocus that will shed light on what it was like filming the spooky movie.
Fans are so passionate that there's a dedicated audience interested in small details about the film as well as offscreen stories that give Hocus Pocus even more life. Aside from being hilarious, the Disney picture is a fall favorite for generations of kids for many reasons - from the incredible actors to the spooky set to the one-of-a-kind costumes. Read on to learn some fascinating stories from behind the scenes of Hocus Pocus.
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A 'Wall Of Cats' All Played Thackery Binx
Vinessa Shaw, who played Allison, spoke during a 2021 interview about her experience with the cats that played Thackery Binx:
What was so cool about the cats was there was literally a wall of cats that all could do one thing... So if they jumped on your shoulder, that was the one thing they could do. Or if they slept on you while you were holding them, that was the best cat for that job. And the cat who like slammed the Book closed when we were trying to figure out a spell, when we were running from the sisters...
I just loved the fact that every cat had one thing that they could do and we basically had a buzzer in our pocket when you see the scenes with us and a cat.
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Real Moths And Dust Flew Out Of Billy Butcherson's Mouth
In a 20th anniversary interview with the cast, Doug Jones, who played reanimated corpse Billy Butcherson, reminded us that the film used no CGI. He explained how the crew created the effect of dust and moths exploding from his mouth when the stitches sewing his lips shut came loose. In the movie, witches aren't allowed on sacred ground, so Allison, Max, Dani, and Binx all flee to a graveyard to escape their wrath.
According to Jones, the special effects artists created a dental dam just for him, as any moisture can harm or kill moths. Then, an animal expert individually placed each moth in his mouth, along with some dust. In the scene, Billy has been brought back to life by his vengeful ex, Winifred Sanderson (Bette Midler), who had killed him and sewed his mouth shut for cheating on her with Sarah Sanderson, her youngest sister, played by Sarah Jessica Parker.
In the scene, he cuts open his mouth for the opportunity to call Winifred a wench after centuries of wanting to get her back. Jones said that on the first take of the moth scene, a stage light went out, so he was left with a mouth full of moths and dust while they fixed the issue. They had to reshoot the scene, but it was well worth it.
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Crew Members Followed Bette Midler Around With A Dictionary To Learn Creative Curse Words
The eldest Sanderson sister, Winifred (Bette Midler), hurled colorful and wacky insults throughout the film, such as "maggoty malfeasance" and "trollimog." It turns out these insults weren't completely unusual for a witch from Winifred's time.
According to Thora Birch, who played Dani Dennison, members of the crew would trail Midler to supplement her lines with ancient insults. Birch recalled in a 2013 panel interview, "Bette had two people running around behind her with dictionaries of old curse words."
Where can the rest of us get one of those dictionaries of ancient insults?
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The Sanderson Sisters' Costumes Were All Based On Specific People
The Sanderson Sisters' iconic costumes were created by master costume designer Mary Vogt, who has also worked on films like Men in Black and Naked Gun. When asked about the process of designing costumes for the sisters, Vogt said the personalities of the three actresses and their characters played a huge role in the way the costumes turned out. In an interview with Glamour, Vogt explained:
When I talked [to director Kenny Ortega] about my vision for Bette, I said, "You can’t put her in some black witch outfit. You have to put her in something that’s colorful and fun and has a little sparkle to it."
Knowing that as Winifred Sanderson, Bette Midler's hair would be bright red in the film, Vogt chose a green costume for color contrast, with purple accents.
Sarah Sanderson, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, influenced her costume with her childlike personality, both as an actress and in her role. She was the most princess-like of the three witches, so Vogt got her inspiration from Sleeping Beauty.
For Mary Sanderson, played by Kathy Najimy, Vogt was inspired by a classic "baker" look:
Kathy was more like an alchemist, the one who was always mixing the potions. So she looked like the cook witch - she was busy doing things. Her outfit was meant to look like a witch baker.
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Kathy Najimy Decided Her Witch Was Bloodhound-Like
Kathy Najimy played a big role in the personality of her character, Mary Sanderson. In a 2018 panel interview to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, she talked about the inspiration behind the character: "I said how about if her wig is the top of a pumpkin? Like the stem."
When talking about Mary's trademark silly smile, she said, "One day in rehearsal I just sort of went to the side. We decided she was a like bloodhound, so this sort of sniffy thing sort of happened."
That's why her character is always tasked with sniffing out the children throughout the film!
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Sarah Jessica Parker Loved Flying And Stayed In Her Harness Longer Than Necessary
According to a 2020 interview with E! News, Doug Jones, who played Billy Butcherson, discussed the use of harnesses to create the effect of flying. According to Jones, appearing to fly in the harnesses was way harder than it looked, and extremely uncomfortable. The other two witches, Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy), and Winifred Sanderson (Bette Midler), disliked the harnesses and tried to get out of them as quickly as possible when a scene was completed.
Unlike the others, Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Sarah Sanderson, loved being in the harness. Jones said she had so much fun, she would even stay in the harness longer than she had to, and seemed "comfy and happy" when flying.