Original ‘Hocus Pocus’ Script Was ‘Much Scarier’ Before Becoming ‘Three Stooges’ Witch Story

"It was more like the Wicked Witch of the West in 'The Wizard of Oz.' It had a darker, 'I'll get you, my pretty' quality," original cast member Vinessa Shaw said.
HOCUS POCUS, Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, 1993
"Hocus Pocus"
©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Hocus Pocus” with a more horror focus? Sounds like a plot running amok.

The beloved 1993 film centers on a trio of witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, who must suck the lives out of children to remain eternal. While the Disney film is decidedly family-friendly, original cast member Vinessa Shaw recalled the script having a more sinister quality.

“I remember reading an original draft that was much scarier, and that was the draft we auditioned with,” Shaw, who played Allison, told Entertainment Weekly. “It wasn’t them fumbling around and bumping into each other, it was straightforward. It was more like the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz’; it had a darker, ‘I’ll get you, my pretty’ quality. They’re a trifecta and can’t do anything without the other, which was stronger in the second draft.”

Shaw noted that once production began, however, it was clear “Hocus Pocus” had an innate comedic element.

“When we started shooting, it became a funny version, much lighter. It had the female ‘Three Stooges’ element in it, and all the choreography that was added lent itself to a much more comedic movie bringing out the strengths of the actresses,” Shaw said of the Sanderson Sisters onscreen.

Shaw added, “I think that’s why the movie is beloved. Obviously, the witches and what they’re doing — sucking the lives out of children — is scary, but the fact that it’s done in a comedic fashion is palatable.”

Sequel “Hocus Pocus 2” premiered earlier this year on Disney+, making history for the streamer as the most streamed movie on the platform. IndieWire’s Jude Dry wrote in their review for the long-awaited sequel that the core “trifecta of divine divas” is what the franchise hinges on.

“Unfortunately, their mean streaks seem to have softened over the years, and the movie relies on a manufactured sisterly bond to wrap things up,” Dry penned, however later adding, “It was only a matter of time before ‘Hocus Pocus’ got resurrected. It’s the witches’ world; everything else is just scenery to get these three back on broomsticks together.”

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