- Original Movie: 1993
- Sequel: 2022
- Streamer: Disney+
Horror movies tend to be Halloween classics during the spooky season, but one film franchise has risen above the rest in the past three decades to show off a bit of comedy: Hocus Pocus. The movie was originally released theatrically in 1993, and a sequel to the movie about witches in Salem, Massachusetts, was released in 2022 on Disney+. Watching Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 has grown in popularity as a way for families to celebrate Halloween, with the franchise’s varying cast contributing to the admiration.
Hocus Pocus began as a starring vehicle for singer and actor Bette Midler, joined by her on-screen sisters Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. Staples of the 1990s, the three actors play the Sanderson sisters, a witchy coven from the 1600s that are brought back to life by a teenage virgin who lights their black flame candle.
Hocus Pocus 2 revolves around a similar premise but introduces viewers to a more modern and diverse cast, fitting for a female-led sequel in 2022.
Both films have varying degrees of appreciation from critics and audiences, but regardless of the overall reception, the Hocus Pocus franchise cast seems to be its best asset. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks 1993’s Hocus Pocus with 38% on its Tomatometer, but the film has an Audience Score of 72%.
While the first film made over $45 million at the box office and became a cult favorite over time, Deadline reports that Hocus Pocus 2 is the most-watched film on Disney+ in the streamer’s history.
Here is a look at the Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 casts:
THE HOCUS POCUS CAST IS LED BY THE SANDERSON SISTERS
Bette Midler – Winifred Sanderson
Global singing sensation and Academy Award-nominated actor Bette Midler leads the Hocus Pocus cast as Winifred Sanderson, the eldest and wisest of the Sanderson sisters. Born as witches in 1600s Salem, the Sanderson sisters put a spell on the Massachusetts town as they are burned at the stake for being witches and trying to eat children. While the town sends the witches to their death, Winifred remarks that they will be back to take revenge on Salem.
In the original 1993 film and again in 2022, the sisters are accidentally brought to modern-day Salem. Winifred is determined to enact her revenge and is foiled by a group of teenagers both times, but she learns some valuable lessons along the way. At the heart of Winifred’s authority is her love for her sisters, Sarah and Mary, a bond that can never be broken in life or death.
Kathy Najimy – Mary Sanderson
As the middle sister and the only one who has the unique ability to smell children, Mary Sanderson is portrayed in the Hocus Pocus franchise by Kathy Najimy. After a stellar part in Sister Act alongside Whoopi Goldberg, Najimy uses her comedic roots to define the character of Mary Sanderson with wit and a bit of hilarious nonsense.
The first film sees Mary riding a vacuum rather than a clichéd broom to take flight, while the 2022 sequel shows Mary on an updated version of the vacuum as she flies on a Roomba.
Sarah Jessica Parker – Sarah Sanderson
Equally attractive and dimwitted, Sarah Sanderson is embodied by Sex and the City‘s Sarah Jessica Parker as part of the Hocus Pocus main cast. Reprising the role in the sequel, Sarah is notable for her past relationship with Billy Butcherson, as well as her magical ability to use her voice as a siren song to lure children to the sisters.
Her silly antics tend to be a burden for her sister Winifred, and her thirst for men makes her one of the more unique characters in a Halloween comedy for families.
Doug Jones – William “Billy” Butcherson
Depicted as a zombie in both Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2, contortionist and actor Doug Jones is cast as Billy Butcherson. Winifred poisons Billy in the 1600s because he loves her sister Sarah rather than Winifred, and Billy is resurrected in both films of the franchise as a way to help the sisters with their earthly needs.
Despite Winifred’s wishes, Billy tends to go against the sisters and join forces with the modern-day humans attempting to stop the witches from carrying out their demonic plans.
Sean Murray (actor) and Jason Marsden (voice) – Thackery Binx
In an attempt to save his sister Emily in 1693 from the Sanderson sisters, who steal her soul, young Thackery Binx is cursed and forced to live into infinity as a black cat. Actor Jason Marsden voices Thackery in 1993’s Hocus Pocus, and future NCIS actor Sean Murray portrays Thackery in human form.
Thackery is instrumental in helping Max, Dani, and Allison in stopping the Sanderson sisters from kidnapping more children, and ultimately gets sent to his death to see his sister Emily once again.
Hannah Waddingham – Mother Witch (2022 only)
The 1993 film Hocus Pocus may have been released to entertain families during the Halloween season, but the movie’s most significant plot hole seems to hide how the Sanderson sisters became witches in the first place. The 2022 sequel seeks to answer that question by showing flashbacks to the sisters’ childhood and subsequent ostracizing from Salem society.
Ted Lasso actor Hannah Waddingham plays Mother Witch in Hocus Pocus 2, and her inclusion in the franchise cast brings an origin story to the Sandersons as it demonstrates how Mother Witch gifts the infamous spell book to the younger sisters.
HOCUS POCUS CAST – MODERN-DAY HUMANS (1993)
Omri Katz – Max Dennison
Currently-retired actor Omri Katz plays Max Dennison in Hocus Pocus, and his role is pivotal to the cast of characters, as Max is the virgin teenager who lights the black flame candle and resurrects Winifred, Mary, and Sarah Sanderson.
A know-it-all transplant from California along with his sister Dani, Max tries to fit in at school and look cool in front of his cute classmate, Allison. The three youngsters band together to help save the town of Salem from the clutches of the Sanderson sisters on Halloween night.
Thora Birch – Dani Dennison
Max’s younger sister and eventually Thackery’s caretaker, Dani Dennison is embodied by Thora Birch in 1993’s Hocus Pocus. Joining the cast before her days opposite Annette Bening and Wes Bentley in American Beauty, Birch plays Dani as a precocious and entertaining child who is perfect for the Sanderson sisters to ultimately claim.
Dani loves Halloween and uncovers a lot about the town their family moved to, and she uses that knowledge to help stop the witches from controlling Salem once again.
Vinessa Shaw – Allison Watts
The teenage infatuation of Max, and Dani’s new friend, Vinessa Shaw plays Allison Watts, a high school student in Salem. Allison gets roped into attending her parents’ annual Halloween soiree at their house but chooses to join forces with Max and Dani to prevent the Sanderson sisters from continuing to run amok. After their efforts are proven successful, it is implied that Allison and Max get together in the end.
Larry Bagby – “Ice”
Future Father Stu actor Larry Bagby costars as part of the Hocus Pocus cast as Ice, the main bully and an antagonist in the first film in the franchise. Ice’s main target is Max because he is new to school and Salem, and he bullies Max for being different.
Ice gets his just deserts from the Sanderson sisters when he and his friend Jay are kidnapped and held hostage in the sisters’ historic home.
Tobias Jelinek – Jay
Tobias Jelinek plays Jay in Hocus Pocus, Ice’s best friend who gets tangled up in many of his friend’s schemes. This includes terrorizing children and new kids in town on Halloween night, which ends poorly when the two friends meet up with the Sanderson sisters.
Jay and Ice sort of fall into the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern side character trope of the Hocus Pocus franchise, initially starting as antagonists but resolving to be funny minor characters by the end of Hocus Pocus.
HOCUS POCUS CAST – MODERN-DAY HUMANS (2022)
Sam Richardson – Gilbert
As Gilbert, the fun-loving owner of The Olde Salem Magic Shoppe, television comedy actor Sam Richardson joins the Hocus Pocus 2 cast. Gilbert’s magic shop is on the same grounds as the Sanderson sisters’ home, and it is revealed that he’s become obsessed with the sisters since watching their demise by Max, Dani, and Allison in 1993. It is Gilbert’s goal to bring the sisters back, but he regrets this decision once they return in 2022.
Whitney Peak – Becca
Ugandan-Canadian actor Whitney Peak takes the modern Hocus Pocus 2 timeline and adds her two cents in by starring in the cast as Becca, a high schooler in Salem who wants to be a witch one day. Like Max in 1993, Becca accidentally brings the Sanderson sisters into the present day using the black flame candle along with her crafty friend Izzy.
When her hands glow a blue color, it’s uncovered that Becca actually has witchcraft abilities and uses the powers she receives on her 16th birthday to help the Sanderson sisters transcend into the afterlife.
Belissa Escobedo – Izzy
Izzy is Becca’s best friend and is played by Belissa Escobedo in Hocus Pocus 2. Adding to a growing cast that was not alive when the first film premiered in theaters, Escobedo portrays Izzy as part of the friendship group with Becca and Cassie.
A visitor to Gilbert’s shop, Izzy is inspired by Mary Sanderson and accidentally brings the witches back to life along with Becca, but she does what she can to protect the children of Salem.
Tony Hale – Jefry Traske & Reverend Traske
In a dual role, Veep actor Tony Hale plays Reverend Traske in flashback scenes to the 1600s, as well as current Salem mayor Jefry Traske and ancestor to the Reverend.
Silly in the modern day but villainous in the 1600s, the Traske family is responsible for the Sanderson sisters turning into evil witches when they were very young. Winifred, Mary, and Sarah target Jefry when they return to 2022, noting that he looks the same as his ancestor.
Lilia Buckingham – Cassie Traske
In her feature film debut, internet personality Lilia Buckingham plays Cassie Traske, the daughter of Jefry and the former friend to Bella and Izzy. Not wanting to participate anymore in her pals’ endeavors to become witches, Cassie becomes popular at their high school and agrees to help her former friends stop the Sanderson sisters when they come back to Salem.
Now a popular kid in Salem, Cassie’s love interest is her boyfriend Mike, although Froy has his own set of problems.
Froy Gutierrez – Mike
The newest addition to the Hocus Pocus franchise cast, Teen Wolf alum Froy Gutierrez plays Mike. As Cassie’s boyfriend, he inadvertently offends her friends Becca and Izzy on a number of occasions but often finds himself in the right place at the right time when the girls need his help. While Mike is depicted as being incompetent in Hocus Pocus 2, he is also a likable character for Gutierrez to play.
NOTABLE GUEST APPEARANCES
Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall – Master Devil and Medusa Lady
Veteran directors, producers, and real-life siblings Garry and Penny Marshall originally played husband and wife in a hilarious scene in 1993’s Hocus Pocus. While the film icons made their cameo scene memorable, the two have since passed away before the sequel could be filmed.
In a beautiful tribute moment in Hocus Pocus 2, director Anne Fletcher splices the scene into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment while a couple watches the scene on television.
Ginger Minj, Kornbread Jeté, Kahmora Hall – Drag Queens
1993’s Hocus Pocus has Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker in an extended campy musical number as the Sanderson sisters, bewitching the town of Salem and all of the parents who attend a large party.
In 2022’s Hocus Pocus 2, the musical number has been replaced with a drag queen competition on Halloween night, which features real-life drag queens Ginger Minj, Kornbread Jeté, and Kahmora Hall playing drag versions of the Sanderson sisters.
Minj, Jeté, and Hall are notable contestants from various seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and have become quite popular in the LGBTQ+ community.
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They’re back and ready to eat your kids!