As "Hocus Pocus" fanatics patiently wait for its long-awaited sequel to arrive, we have a treat that could make them sick.
In 1993, movie critics, including our own, would have never guessed the film following the Halloween night resurrection of the Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) would become a cult classic – and nearly 30 years later followed up with a second movie.
USA TODAY's then-film critic Susan Wloszczyna wrote a damning review of "Hocus Pocus" when it first hit theaters, with the headline "Nothing much stirred up in 'Hocus Pocus' brew."
In honor of "Hocus Pocus 2" arriving on Disney+ Sept. 30, read the full review.
'Hocus Pocus 2' review: Beloved Halloween cult classic loses its magic in wretched sequel
'Hocus Pocus 2' trailer: See the first look at the Sanderson Sisters in the new sequel
'Hocus Pocus' 1993 review in USA TODAY
"Hocus Pocus" goes to the toil and trouble of conjuring three of the most amusing sorceresses this side of TV's Endora.
Then, POOF! The movie turns into a toad, thanks to a moldy plot that's been around since Steve McQueen tussled with "The Blob." Yes, it's the old teens-warn-the-townfolk-but-no-one-believes-them trick. This time, it's not quite a treat.
Looking like a cross between a rabid ferret and Marie Antoinette on a bad hair day, Bette Midler is the chief rhymes-with-twitch. Joining her are twisted sisters Kathy Najimy (the dumpy one with a wicked bark) and Sarah Jessica Parker (the bimbo one with a wicked libido). Awakened on Halloween after 300 years, this Salem trio hungers for children, so they can gobble them up and regain their youth.
'Hocus Pocus 2': Here's what you need to know about the sequel
Unfortunately, director Kenny Ortega ("Newsies") and his writers leave the Andrews-Sisters-from-hell behind to concentrate on the puppy-love pangs of the new kid in school (Omri Katz), his pneumatic crush (Vinessa Shaw) and his bratty sis (Thora Birch, who pitches fits of precociousness). After much smirking about "yabows" – breasts to the rest of you – and virginhood, they go through the labored motions of putting the kibosh on any kiddy-kabobs.
The witches puzzling over 20th-century inventions is strictly stale candy corn. Some effects border on the special, such as a talking cat. But the film blows its one surefire scene – the Divine One cackling "I Put a Spell on You."
Yes, Bette is a howl as she calls a cheating beau raised from the dead a "maggot museum." Parker eyes comely boys and meaty spiders with equal relish. But poor Najimy, such a scene-snitcher in "Sister Act," hardly gets to do anything but ride a Hoover for laughs.
And what to make of an appearance by sibs Garry and Penny Marshall as marrieds. What is this – cameo incest?
One should approach "Hocus Pocus" as if it were one of those households that plunk toothbrushes instead of Snickers into your goody bag. Skip it.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Before 'Hocus Pocus 2,' we recall our frightful review of first film