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Movies You Missed: 'Hocus Pocus'


BETTE MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) Oh, look. Another glorious morning - makes me sick.


Oh, but I love mornings. They can only mean one thing.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) I smell children.

SIMON: Actually, that's why I come in here. It's that time to talk about our favorite movies that we may have somehow inadvertently missed.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) I've missed you. Did you miss me, too?

SIMON: And since it's October, it's time for our favorite Halloween movies.


OMRI KATZ: (As Max Dennison) Oh, come on. It's just a bunch of hocus pocus.

SIMON: How did you know? "Hocus Pocus" begins on All Hallows Eve in Salem, Mass., in 1693. Three witches, the Sanderson sisters - this is going to hurt now - suck the life out of a small child and turn her older brother into a cat. They are hung for their crimes. Have a good time dunking apples. Three hundred years later, they're brought back from the dead by a virgin named Max Dennison who's a nonbeliever and lights the black flame candle, and thus begins an all-night struggle to keep the Sanderson sisters from stealing the lives of all of the children of Salem.

Jeffrey Pierre is a producer on our show called MORNING EDITION. He had not seen "Hocus Pocus" until we found him and made him. Mr. Pierre, thanks so much for joining us.


SIMON: And let's get this straight, you were accosted by our editor in an elevator, weren't you?

PIERRE: Well, I don't know if I'd use that word exactly. But I was in an elevator, and she noticed that I had a "Hocus Pocus" pin. And her next question was, well, you know, what did you think about the movie? Do you love it? And I was like, well, I've actually never seen the movie. And she asked me why I had the pin. And it was a gift that just looks good on my denim jacket, and - yeah.

SIMON: Well, what did you think of "Hocus Pocus?"

PIERRE: So I obviously saw it as an adult. And I was asking myself, you know, does this movie have the fundamental elements of something that would - I would have liked as a kid. And the answer is yes. I did like it. It had your classic, you know, parents-just-don't-get-it moment. It had, you know, kids running around the city, no adult supervision. I like that. You know, and a young Sarah Jessica Parker - I - you know, it was nice to see her before her stint in "Sex And The City." But I did like it. Yeah, it was a really good movie.

SIMON: It is a great cast with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Bette Midler, also a young Thora Birch.


SIMON: But it's one of those - it was made 1993 but didn't exactly take the world by storm then I gather.

PIERRE: I really - I can't see why, you know, because when I was - I was three years old in '93, you know? But I saw movies like the Olsen twins' "Double, Double, Toil And Trouble." And you know, movies like that were like a classic for me always growing up. So I can't really understand why it would take so long for it to catch on. But you know, I guess they're making a second movie pretty soon, so they must have done something right.

SIMON: Yeah. Bette Midler is terrific, isn't she?


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) Thank you, Max...

PIERRE: Yeah, she's great. Yeah.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) ...For that marvelous introduction.


SIMON: And we also get to hear her sing.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) I put a spell on you, and now you're mine.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) You can't stop the things I do. (Singing) I ain't lyin.

PIERRE: Yeah. That - see, that was another great thing about the movie is that, you know, you get a nice classic singalong. And it works with that parents-just-don't-get-it because now they're in like a transfer. They have to dance for the night, you know? So that was pretty good.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) (Singing) And now you're mine.

SIMON: I mean, it has its dark moments.

PIERRE: It does. It does. The thought of eating kids - and there was this one gruesome moment where the cat...


KATZ: (As Max Dennison) Binx, look out.

PIERRE: ...Gets run over and then it comes back to life. And I just remember seeing the cat's, like, mangled body in the street. And I was like, dear God.


KATZ: (As Max Dennison) Oh my god.

PIERRE: Is this something that kids would be able to see? But you know, it does have its darkness to it.


SEAN MURRAY: (As Thackery Binx) I hate it when that happens. What? I told you I can't die.

SIMON: You enjoyed the movie a lot.

PIERRE: Yeah. It's got all your classic elements. And then I think that will do well with any crowd. And one thing about this button, I will say, Scott - and this was...

SIMON: Which is of the three...

PIERRE: ...The three - yes, the three sisters on a pin. I have been everywhere around the city. It doesn't matter if I'm in northwest D.C., southeast D.C., southwest D.C. Somebody will come up to me. And they'll be like, oh my god. You have a "Hocus Pocus" button on. And I'll be like, oh, yeah. It's a button. And they're like, no, no, no. You don't understand. This movie, it matters to me. Or this movie was amazing. And they'll tell me the story about how they love "Hocus Pocus" and how, you know - how every Halloween they have to watch it. And I'm just like, oh my god. So even before I saw this movie, I guess I was already moved by the fact that so - and when I say so many different types of people, Scott - so many different types of people, people that I wouldn't even expect to come up to me in the store and comment on the pin. So I don't just think it's a great movie. Apparently, all of D.C. does as well, so - yeah.

SIMON: Jeffrey Pierre is a new movie critic. And he's a producer at MORNING EDITION. Thanks so much for joining us.

PIERRE: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Hope we talk to you again.

PIERRE: Yeah, of course.


MIDLER: (As Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson) (Singing) I put a spell on you, and now you're gone. My whammy fell on you, and it was strong. Your wretched little lives have all been cursed 'cause of all the witches working, I'm the worst. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.