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Hocus Pocus in Focus: The Thinking…

Hocus Pocus in Focus: The Thinking Fan's Guide to Disney's…

by Aaron Wallace

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831,448,378 (4.33)3



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I admit that strange as it may sound, I didn’t count myself among the millions of ‘’Hocus Pocus’’ fans until last autumn, when I watched the film for the first time. You see, Halloween isn’t among the ‘’officially established’’ holidays in Greece, but a) it gains more and more ground every year, and b) who cares about what is ‘’official’’? So, for the last four years, me and my mother have this special ‘’film festival’’ starting at October 2st, when we watch a Halloween-themed film or a ghost movie every weekend up until the first days of November. Last year, I thought ‘’let’s see what the fuss is all about’’. And we watched ‘’ Hocus Pocus’’. And we were smitten with it at first sight.

This beautiful film isn’t just creepy, funny and somewhat daring for its time. Speaking strictly for me, it causes a deep surging of nostalgia for a more innocent, more carefree era. When we didn’t know what Halloween was (unfortunately….) but we were able to walk in our own neighborhood with safety in those dimly lit, crispy afternoons and early evenings. The reason why our time is different isn’t relevant so I won’t discuss it here. That was also a time when movies were better, in every sense. When you still had films that were atmospheric and interesting and fun and this is how I view ‘’Hocus Pocus’’. It’s not a cultural masterpiece but a creepy and entertaining creation that demonstrates everything we have come to love about autumn and the glorious festive period of Halloween.

The companion is true to its name, because it prompts you to think of the film’s value through the years, even though its journey to the box-office at the time of its release was far from satisfying. To tell you the truth, look at the films that rise to the 1st place in our days. If these are the future of cinema, I’m glad I don’t consider myself a movie-buff. But, anyway...Aaron succeeds in demonstrating the distinctive Salem atmosphere that was beautifully depicted in the 1993 film. There are numerous interesting essays covering many themes and observations about the film, the inspiration behind it and the dynamics of the time of its production.

There is a very interesting -albeit peculiar, I admit- analysis on the issue of virginity and sexuality in a Disney film in the beginning of the 90s. There is an exploration of the strong feministic connotations that are present in the movie, since Winnie is an absolute queen, Mary is the home-caring one, Sarah is the childish seductress and Dani with Allison are the kind-hearted, clever and resilient ‘humane’ witches. We also find references to the inspiration provided by established thrillers and Horror films that helped in shaping the overall tone of ‘’Hocus Pocus’’ with some interesting behind-the-scenes information and suggestions on films of similar interest.

Honestly, I cannot understand why this film received so much hatred and scorn in the reviews at the time of its release. I guess those of us who never trust the film reviewers are somehow justified. Most of the time, they promote whatever they want to serve their own purposes and we end up with garbage like ‘Shakespeare In Love’’ taking the Oscar for Best Film over ‘Saving Private Ryan’’…(I mean, were they on LSD or something during THAT night?) If you want to familiarize yourselves with the fascinating world that is ‘’Hocus Pocus’’ or of you are a die-hard fan, then this companion is a beautiful work for the lovers of the film, the Halloween-crazed fans and any movie-aficionado.

...And for once, let us stop taking every single thing so seriously. Sometimes, all we need to escape the mundane, troubled, bleak reality is a broomstick, a pointy hat, a few pumpkins, and a cat. And a book….And Winnie’s songs….

( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
You'll never find a deeper discussion of "Hocus Pocus" than here. Chapters cover the influence of feminism and real witchcraft, the choices in casting and location, the musical choices, and how the movie flopped upon release but became a cult classic thanks to cable tv.
And then there's an extended discussion about the very weird pivotal plot point for a Disney kid's movie: Max's virginity. That aspect of this movie has always been a quirky mystery to me with so many questions. Who? What? Why?
There's a forward by Thora "Dani" Birch, the little girl from the movie, and it's interesting. If you're a Hocus Pocus fan, you'll want this heavily researched book. ( )
  mstrust | Sep 9, 2017 |
Just in time for Halloween, Hocus Pocus in Focus is the second book in a series of “thinking fan’s guides” by author Aaron Wallace. Keeping true to the formula he developed in The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World (reviewed here), Mr. Wallace closely examines the 1993 film on a variety of levels. While some might be leery that a “campy” 1990s film can warrant an entire book, Mr. Wallace is able to fill his 206 pages with a wealth of information and trivia included with some in-depth analysis to make it worth the read.

Without giving away too many of the details (What fun would it be for you to read then?), Mr. Wallace is able to take apart the plot, settings, and intimate details of the film and allow you to look at it from an entirely new perspective. You can see after reading how this was really an atypical Disney film, even for the “new look” Michael Eisner Disney of the 1990s. By placing itself in the context of Disney trying to branch out and expand to more audiences, Hocus Pocus was actually rather groundbreaking for the company. Learning about the inner workings of the production, how certain elements of horror, suspense, and established movie tropes blended together, and the immense love of the cast for the film really brings the importance and the love for this film “in focus”.

All that said, Hocus Pocus in Focus is definitely a book primarily for the hardcore fans of the film as the smaller details would be lost on a casual fan who had only seen it a few times. However, it is also accessible to those who are interested in film (specifically Disney films!) in general. It’s well worth doing yourself a favor and following the author’s advice to watch Hocus Pocus both before and after reading as both a preparation for the details in the book, as well as being able to look for everything discussed after! I did this myself, as I believe the last time I saw Hocus Pocus was close to 15 years ago and it was well worth it! ( )
  chensel477 | Oct 26, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 099805920X, Paperback)

The Hocus Pocus “BoooOOOoooK” Fans Have Been Waiting For
In the first and only book ever written about the beloved 1993 Halloween movie, Aaron Wallace takes readers deep into the world of Hocus Pocus to learn everything they never knew. He provides a lighthearted but scholarly look at the film in its all spooky-kooky glory.

You’ll learn:
• The fascinating history behind “Come, Little Children (Sarah’s Song)” and “I Put a Spell on You”
• How Steven Spielberg shaped the movie
• Why there’s all that talk about yabbos and virgins
• How Hocus Pocus got away with being the edgiest Disney movie ever made
• Whether a sequel could really happen
• And much, much more

Featuring a foreword by Golden Globe nominee Thora Birch (Hocus Pocus’s Dani), afterword by Mick Garris (the film’s writer and producer), and the largest collection of Hocus Pocus fun facts and trivia ever assembled, this is the ultimate unofficial fan guide for Halloween and movie lovers everywhere. Finally, Hocus Pocus is celebrated as the classic it’s become. You’ll love the movie more than you ever knew you could.

About the Author
Aaron Wallace is a bestselling author, entertainment critic, and attorney with a particular interest in the artistic output of The Walt Disney Company.

His critical interest in entertainment began at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Communication Studies (with a concentration in Media Studies) and English. While there, he taught a recitation course in analyzing children’s literature, with an emphasis on Disney’s adaptations in theme parks and film.

Wallace later pursued an interest in law, earning a Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University. Additionally, he is a professional entertainment critic, having published more than two hundred movie, television, and music reviews to an audience of millions. Since 2004, he’s been a part of the writing staff at DVDizzy.com, one of the internet’s most accessed sites for entertainment journalism.

In addition to writing, Aaron hosts Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Pod, the web’s longest-running podcast dedicated to all things Disney. Apple has recognized the show as one of its “Featured Travel Podcasts,” and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Pod can often be found among the top-ranking downloads on the iTunes Travel charts. Aaron also appears as a regular co-host on The Hub Podcast, another popular show devoted to having fun with Disney.

The author's website is available at www.AaronWallaceOnline.com.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:33:56 -0400)

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