Bette Midler Comments On Lasting Legacy Of Hocus Pocus

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Can you believe it’s been 25 years since Hocus Pocus was gifted to the world? It wouldn’t be Halloween without this Kenny Ortega classic, a tale of three ancient witches who are accidentally resurrected in the ’90s and the children that attempt to thwart their plans to gain immortality. Star Bette Midler, 72, reminisced on the negative reviews Hocus Pocus originally received at her annual Hulaween charity event on Monday.

“It was like an ugly duckling,” said Bette. “A little creature that nobody thought could do anything and now it’s a swan. It’s found its wings and it’s just flown away. I think it’s fantastic.”

It may be surprising to current fans just how bad the original reviews were for a film that has become a beloved holiday tradition. The Chicago Tribune called it “dreadful” and described it as “about as much fun celebrating Mardi Gras under the influence of candy corn” (which sounds awesome to us but was clearly meant as an insult). In their defense, the film was released in August, when most people aren’t exactly in the holiday spirit, but reviewers who found it “hard to imagine it finding a broad audience” were clearly proven wrong by the test of time.

Bette has been getting into the Halloween spirit this year, posting 25 throwbacks to Hocus Pocus on her Instagram to honor its anniversary and admitting that she recently rewatched the cult classic for the first time since the ’90s.

“I watched it the other night, the night before the [25th] anniversary, because I said, ‘You know what, I better look at this again.’ So I watched it, and I loved it! I loved it!”

Seeing the film with fresh eyes gave Bette a new appreciation for the film’s cast and the work they did on the project.

“The first time I watched it I was only watching myself. But this time I saw everybody,” said Bette. “And I tell ya, those girls in the back — they were going full blast! They were giving me a run for my money. The kids were great, everybody was great!”

Bette isn’t the only Sanderson Sister who’s taking a look back during the film’s quadricentennial. Sarah Jessica Parker, 53, described her shock at the dark tone of the Disney film during Freeform’s Hocus Pocus anniversary special.

“I was surprised that the goal was to get a child and basically destroy them, but because it was done in a really heightened, ridiculous way, it was a lot of fun,” Parker reminisced.

The anniversary special on October 20 brought together SJP, Bette, Kathy Najimy and Thora Birch in a celebration of the film’s enduring legacy after Disney received backlash from the stars for developing a “cheap” sequel without the involvement of the original cast and creative team. We’ll take it!