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

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