The Bechdel Test: Hocus Pocus, the Halloween classic

Each week, staff wrtier Em Leonick will analyze classic and current movies to see if they pass the Bechdel Test, which gauges female representaion in film.

Halloween season always comes with a few things that make people look forward to that time of the year. People enjoy the chance to dress up, eat some candy, and maybe go to a haunted house or two. For a lot of people, however, the Halloween season means it is the time of the year for some of their favorite movies. People every year re-watch the same movies they watched as kids and get to relive some of the magic.

One of these movies is Hocus Pocus. Released in 1993, this movie is about the Sanderson sisters: Winnie (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and their quest to collect the lives of children before they die forever at sunrise after Halloween night. Each sister has a specific power that helps them find children. Winnie has the knowledge, Mary can smell children, and Sarah can sing a siren song that mesmerizes the children. They were summoned by a candle lit by Max Dennison (Omri Katz). Max, his little sister Danni (Thora Birch) and his crush from school, Alison, (Vinessa Shaw) visit the Sanderson sisters’ cottage, located in witch central itself, Salem, Massachusetts, which has become a museum dedicated to the legend of the sisters.

With the help of Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), who has been cursed by the sisters and forced to live as a black cat that can never die, they spend their Halloween trying to rid the world of the Sanderson sisters once and for all. The witch trio does not take this lying down, and sends all sorts of magical things the kids’ way. This is a Halloween movie that seems to have it all: a legend about witches, magic, a talking cat, a whole lot of people in costumes, a great musical number, and even a zombie. There’s a reason many consider it a must-see in the Halloween season.

Hocus Pocus does certainly seem to have it all. By the Bechdel Test’s standards, it definitely does not disappoint. It fills all the qualifications of being a good representation by the test’s standards. The film has a whole host of female characters that have been named. To make things even better, with the exception of Allison, they all have both a first and last name. These women characters talk to each other often, and more often than not, it is not about a man.

Outside of the Bechdel Test, I would argue this film is a decent representation of women. There are many different types of female characters in the movie. It is not just the evil Sanderson sisters in the movie. There are women characters that are meant to be seen as heroes. Unfortunately, the film lacks any real diversity. Not only are none of the main characters people of color, there are not really any people of color seen at all throughout the film.

Hocus Pocus has its place in the Halloween season. It certainly has reasons to be loved by so many, though it still had potential to be more inclusive.