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  • J.H. Fleming

Hocus Pocus -- Winifred Sanderson's Achilles Heel


Watching Hocus Pocus every year around Halloween is a bit of a tradition for me. It's part of the regular yearly line up along with The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow (the Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci version). I remember as a kid that was the only time of year I could watch it, because we didn't own the movie. I never knew when it would come on, so normally I would just happen upon it, and it would already be several minutes in. Because of this, I never saw the beginning of the movie until I was older and purchased it for myself.

I adore this movie and absolutely love the Sanderson sisters. On the one hand you see their selfishness and "evil" (sucking the lives from children and murdering ex boyfriends). On the other hand, you see three very human women, with their sisterly teasing and fighting and their initial fear of a modern world with modern technologies. They want what many of us might want, under the right circumstances: to live forever (so long as our loved ones lived forever, too).

*spoiler*

Ultimately, the sisters fail in their quest, and with the sunrise the three turn back into dust. But I am of the opinion this happened for a very specific reason, and if not for that, the sisters would've totally succeeded in their plan, and there would've been nothing Max or the others could do about it.

Let's consider the witches' main goal. When Max lit the black flame candle, it brought the sisters back for a single night. According to IMDB, "From there on out, it's a non-stop, fun-filled chase as the witches pursue the children, determined to make sassy-mouthed Dani the subject of their next youth spell, which must be performed before dawn or else the witches will be gone forever!"

Also from IMDB, "The sisters discover they have been tricked and devise a plan, since the candle only brings them back for one Halloween night, they plot to suck the lives out of children before sunrise, so that they can stay alive and youthful forever, but need to find Max since he has stolen the book."

So at first their goal is to take back the book, which Max stole. But they manage to do just that, and Winifred is able to create another cauldron full of the elixir needed to steal the lives of children. Sarah even manages to provide plenty of children by singing her famous siren song, "Come Little Children."

So what's stopping them? Winifred Sanderson's Achilles Heel: her fixation on Dani.

There's no rule or law that says Dani has to be the one they steal the life from. But because she called Winifred ugly, the eldest Sanderson sister is determined to make her their first victim. It is for this reason and this reason alone that the sisters failed in their quest.

They could've stolen the lives of all the other children in Salem. Even one child would've been enough, and then they could "stay alive and youthful forever." Sarah's song provided more than enough children. All they had to do was force another child to drink the elixir, suck the life from said child, and then the rising of the sun would've had no effect on them. They could then make more of the elixir and go after Dani and the others at their leisure, with no fear of a time limit or of being turned to dust.

Is this the ending I want? Not exactly. I think if the story had gone this way, it would be more of a horror story than a family friendly holiday movie, and Disney doesn't work that way. I just think it's fun to analyze where villains go wrong and what they could've done differently to succeed in their plans. (You should hear my thoughts on the TV show Once Upon a Time. One of my friends has said that if our lives were a fairy tale, she would hate to be my enemy.)

What are your thoughts? Would you have liked to see the Sanderson sisters succeed, or do you prefer the movie as is? Have you spotted any other mistakes that could've cemented the sisters' victory? I would love to read your opinions in the comments.


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Not everyone gets a happy ending