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

Binge Guide Funimation lord of the rings popular SDCC BBC Esquire TCA Awards italian japanese HBO Go cinemax comic book movies dramedy young adult witnail AMC Plus interviews Grammys Writers Guild of America Baby Yoda saw toy story movies Neflix rt archives Travel Channel discovery unscripted south america comic GIFs streaming cancelled target Mary Poppins Returns fast and furious San Diego Comic-Con aliens nfl high school X-Men Marvel Television adventure Fargo USA Network Hallmark Christmas movies travel 4/20 FX strong female leads black comedy TV Winners TLC dragons Turner Classic Movies Comic-Con@Home 2021 godzilla kong Adult Swim legend WarnerMedia Image Comics Amazon Studios Reality Competition cats Chilling Adventures of Sabrina adaptation Pacific Islander mockumentary hidden camera BBC America serial killer foreign Creative Arts Emmys The CW chucky mutant venice series australia MGM a nightmare on elm street Marvel Studios Set visit posters Epix BAFTA james bond Extras streaming movies laika vs. art house feel good Ghostbusters ID 72 Emmy Awards award winner what to watch anthology HBO Max politics Endgame 93rd Oscars transformers Spike critics Lionsgate criterion concert Bravo Trophy Talk emmy awards Tubi ghosts LGBT ratings indie Schedule dexter scene in color film series scene in color teaser diversity obituary TIFF Wes Anderson cults Fall TV DGA all-time zombie sopranos Marvel marvel cinematic universe richard e. Grant broadcast gangster IFC Nat Geo blaxploitation 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Oscars The Walt Disney Company Tokyo Olympics Infographic Apple TV+ GoT Oscar facebook franchise indiana jones Food Network video on demand NBC Thanksgiving DirecTV child's play joker psycho Ovation new york CNN TCA 2017 rom-coms finale Warner Bros. binge live action free movies justice league 2017 20th Century Fox TCA Winter 2020 Cannes FXX medical drama Sci-Fi Polls and Games films OWN streamig dark YouTube Red 007 vampires Nominations YouTube Premium pirates of the caribbean scary worst zero dark thirty scene in color series BBC One hispanic Fox Searchlight technology Elton John Year in Review leaderboard jurassic park theme song 45 Discovery Channel Calendar stoner Mudbound superhero El Rey Indigenous Trivia mcc The Purge blockbusters Winter TV green book PaleyFest WGN TCM Lifetime Christmas movies Election 2020 Freeform Nickelodeon heist movie LGBTQ CW Seed festivals kaiju The Academy Rocketman Western stop motion Black Mirror TV One 24 frames MCU Box Office Cosplay rt labs critics edition Country Heroines french documentary Paramount Pictures Opinion DC Universe basketball cancelled television Video Games Sundance ABC Cartoon Network Ellie Kemper Dark Horse Comics spanish canceled suspense 94th Oscars BET Awards Fox News SundanceTV Toys BET SXSW 2022 superman anime 73rd Emmy Awards spider-verse Pop The Arrangement latino 99% monster movies book 2015 sequel spanish language social media Television Critics Association Disney Plus Syfy CMT fresh IFC Films debate Spring TV singing competition 79th Golden Globes Awards wonder woman Fantasy nature canceled TV shows Pet Sematary Watching Series obi wan Classic Film Martial Arts olympics Instagram Live 1990s elevated horror Disney+ Disney Plus independent dc Best and Worst Countdown Star Wars Celebration MTV spain Stephen King toronto football satire critic resources Star Trek talk show doctor who genre period drama Christmas halloween Best Actor Broadway DC Comics Interview disaster Exclusive Video adenture deadpool Starz IMDb TV international PlayStation RT21 romance Reality Superheroe Television Academy kids best cooking golden globes Amazon Prime South by Southwest Film Festival spinoff hist Columbia Pictures Arrowverse Hollywood Foreign Press Association telelvision USA japan Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt king arthur hispanic heritage month Comic Book Comics on TV Red Carpet DC streaming service Music Quiz Sony A&E royal family dogs Biopics sitcom ITV rotten movies we love game of thrones CBS biography werewolf 21st Century Fox American Society of Cinematographers TBS Focus Features Alien jamie lee curtis composers ViacomCBS cancelled TV series Photos summer preview Family OneApp AMC TV Land Pop TV sports ESPN Masterpiece spy thriller remakes Lifetime Disney Channel tv talk Trailer Apple die hard breaking bad spider-man Netflix The Walking Dead trophy Tomatazos Hear Us Out Captain marvel HBO NBA new star wars movies asian-american twilight hollywood Shudder natural history true crime name the review miniseries cops Emmys History Chernobyl mission: impossible ABC Family Mary poppins MSNBC Mindy Kaling Shondaland Musical sag awards NYCC trailers festival Holiday summer TV video Universal slashers Rom-Com The Witch National Geographic crossover Podcast Native documentaries Pixar Best Actress VOD prank police drama golden globe awards Avengers Legendary Premiere Dates CBS All Access cancelled TV shows Women's History Month Hallmark Emmy Nominations 2021 Film Festival stand-up comedy Comedy Lucasfilm Superheroes Turner Holidays Best Director robots mob docudrama Geeked Week quibi dceu king kong cars Acorn TV Horror historical drama political drama razzies First Look 2019 Spectrum Originals Prime Video Black History Month comic books Sundance Now Peacock women Showtime GLAAD comics Crunchyroll Tarantino target scene in color Musicals 90s Netflix Christmas movies E3 movie zombies Walt Disney Pictures FOX E! Vudu action-comedy summer TV preview New York Comic Con Valentine's Day animated children's TV FX on Hulu black book adaptation Amazon television Drama Pride Month Rocky Disney streaming service boxoffice thriller crime crime thriller worst movies YouTube rt labs biopic VH1 TruTV harry potter Summer war renewed TV shows screenings APB scary movies Star Wars classics A24 psychological thriller reboot Academy Awards RT History boxing sequels President First Reviews Sony Pictures Pirates halloween tv news christmas movies See It Skip It based on movie Universal Pictures Awards marvel comics directors romantic comedy space Disney Mystery Hulu YA supernatural dreamworks live event Awards Tour Kids & Family Sundance TV nbcuniversal Paramount Network Sneak Peek Britbox Teen Amazon Prime Video Brie Larson docuseries Apple TV Plus versus scorecard Marathons Paramount Plus Mary Tyler Moore Logo TCA 2016 screen actors guild Action PBS Character Guide aapi ABC Signature rotten archives parents Super Bowl revenge Best Picture 2018 reviews batman Tumblr comedies VICE science fiction Rock Certified Fresh comic book movie game show blockbuster slasher universal monsters know your critic Tags: Comedy Animation cartoon comiccon TNT Paramount Song of Ice and Fire HFPA SXSW Anna Paquin Comedy Central new zealand TV movies crime drama Crackle 71st Emmy Awards TV renewals Film casting