Hocus Pocus star, Vinessa Shaw, recently explained that the original draft of the Halloween comedy was initially much scarier. Released in 1993, Hocus Pocus centered on the Sanderson Sisters, a trio of mischievous witches portrayed by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. When Max Dennison (Omri Katz), his sister Dani (Thora Birch), and Max’s classmate, Allison Watts (Shaw), inadvertently summon the Sanderson Sisters, the three children must work together to vanquish the witches before they steal Dani’s life force.
Although the film did not do well at the box office and received mixed reviews from critics, Hocus Pocus found new life on home media and annual television broadcasts. The family-friendly comedy rapidly developed a cult following, sparking Disney to develop a sequel nearly 30 years after the original movie’s release. Hocus Pocus 2 was released in September and quickly became Disney+’s most-viewed film on the streaming service.
In a recent interview with EW, Shaw recalled that the original Hocus Pocus script was initially much scarier. The actor revealed that the first draft she was given had more traditional witches similar to The Wizard of Oz instead of the slapstick humor present in the final film. Read what Shaw said about the original Hocus Pocus screenplay below:
Although a darker and more scary approach to Hocus Pocus would no doubt be intriguing, such a take would probably not have been as impactful with audiences as the more family-friendly version. What Hocus Pocus lacks in story, the movie makes up in charm. Midler, Najimy, and Parker’s undeniably strong chemistry captured the hearts of viewers both young and old, bringing them back year-after-year to relieve the hilarious tale of the Sanderson Sisters’ brief resurrection.
Due to Hocus Pocus‘ family-friendly nature, the film’s demographic is incredibly broad. Halloween already has tons of frightening and violent movies to watch including the graphic Nightmare on Elm Street franchise to Halloween Ends, a horror movie that concludes the tale of one of Hollywood’s most iconic slashers. A Halloween-themed film for the whole family only gives the movie more staying power. If Midler, Najimy, and Parker were never cast and the tone of Hocus Pocus was kept darker, the movie would likely have never become a Halloween cultural phenomenon, sparking decades of costume ideas and a massively popular sequel.
Next: Hocus Pocus 2 Proves The Sanderson Sisters’ Songs Still Don’t Make Sense