By Kelsey Williams, the Walt Disney Archives
‘Tis time! 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the spooktacular film
Hocus Pocus. To celebrate the occasion, prepare thyselves to view some of the most bewitching props and costumes from the Walt Disney Archives collection. Don’t be frightened; remember “…it’s just a bunch of hocus pocus!”
“This is the spell book of Winifred Sanderson. It was given to her by the devil himself. The book is bound in human skin and contains the recipes for her most powerful and evil spells.”
Three variations of Winifred’s iconic spell book were created: two practical books—eye open and eye closed—and one book with a moveable eye manipulated via remote control. Details on the book include human fingers on the spine, six metal serpents adorning the front and back, a claw closure clasp, and stitching.
The practical spell books don’t just have visually stunning covers, the inside is filled with some of the witches’ most sinister spells and recipies. Contained in the Manual of Witchcraft & Alchemy is the life potion formula to make the Sanderson sisters live forever by stealing the souls of children.
Winifred’s beloved book laid to rest in this case in the Sanderson Witch Museum. The detailed stand was custom built to sit in the Sanderson house.
What good is the perfect formula without a cauldron to contain the concoction? The recipe for the Sanderson sister’s life potion is “Bring to a full rolling bubble. Add two drops oil of boil. Mix blood of owl with the herb that’s red. Turn three times, pluck a hair from my head. Add a dash of pox and a dead man’s toe… newt saliva… One thing more and all is done. Add a bit of thine own tongue.”
Never insult a Sanderson. This is one of two cages that were used to contain bullies Jay and Ernie after they called Winifred, Mary, and Sarah “ugly.” This scene, along with all material filmed inside the Sanderson’s house, was shot on Stage 2 at The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank.
Designed by famed costume designer Mary Vogt, each Sanderson sister has their own personal style to reflect the character. Winifred’s costume is timeless with an air of medieval style, showcasing deep velvet green to compliment her red hair. Mary’s costume is very natural, made of homespun fabric in rich and deep colors. Sarah’s costume is light, airy and ethereal. Vogt choose this color pallet to help distinguish them from previous on-screen witches.
“Broom, ho!” With two simple words the Sanderson sisters take to the skies. Sarah Sanderson (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) rode this double ended broom early in the film while chasing after Max, Dani, and Jenny in the cemetery.
After their brooms were taken by young trick-or-treaters, the sisters had to be resourceful when it came to taking flight. Winifred used a household broom, Sarah a mop, and Mary (portrayed by Kathy Najimy) had the honor of utilizing this vacuum to soar through the air. “Come! We fly!”
Before closing due to a lot of spooky activity, this lighter was sold as a souvenir in the Sanderson Witch Museum. Max Dennison used the lighter on All Hallows Eve to light the Black Flame Candle, summoning the Sanderson sisters from the dead.
Not all witches are bad. This hat was part of 8-year-old Dani Dennison’s (played by Thora Birch) Halloween costume in the film.
The Black Flame Candle’s magic only brought the Sanderson sisters back for Halloween night. In the words of Bette Midler’s character Winifred, they had to “suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise. Otherwise, it’s curtains! We evaporate! We cease to exist!” This statue showcases Winifred’s final moments, grasping Max while trying to consume his life force after falling off her broom onto the cemetery ground below.
Before becoming Hocus Pocus, an early working title for the film was The Halloween House. The Walt Disney Archives has a few variations of the script on file, including this one from 1987 which showcases the earlier title.
Many of these spellbinding pieces will be on display at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood starting October 11, and be sure to go see them before the sun rises on November 1 and they turn to dust. Dost thou comprehend?