It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus: In Defense of the Villains

In honor of Halloween. Originally posted October 29, 2013.

A few weeks ago, I was telling Gail about my Game of Thrones marathon. I tried to explain that, no matter how drawn out the storyline was, it was entirely worth it to keep up with the Khaleesi.

Gail: “Okay. Wait. Are you sure she’s the heroine? Because, you really don’t have the best track record with that.”
Me: “Hey. Like 14 people liked my Facebook status defending the witch against Hansel and Gretel. Those little shits vandalized her house. She was the victim, damn it!”
Gail: ::silence::
Me: “.. but, no. Everyone else thinks the Khaleesi is the heroine, too. Even the people who can’t see that Cruella de Vil was doing her part to curb over-breeding.”

cruella
She’s practically an activist.

So, it came as no surprise to Gail that, for my next blog post, I was going to make my case for the Sanderson sisters… particularly since I’ve watched Hocus Pocus nine times this month and have been quoting it on Facebook daily. Actually. Best thing about living alone: the dog doesn’t care that I can (and do) recite that movie as it plays. Now, just to clarify, my argument isn’t so much that the Sanderson sisters were innocent and/or wronged. It’s more that their actions were justified. The kids in the movie deserved to have their souls sucked dry. Happy Halloween, y’all.

hocus pocus soul sucking

We all know the story. In 1693, the Sanderson sisters were tried and convicted of witchcraft, after punishing some young trespassers. Perhaps the girl was lured into the yard; perhaps not. We never got to hear the details of the case, over the sounds of angry townspeople. We do, however, know that Thackery Binx was was doomed to live forever as a cat. Wait. Doomed? Being an immortal cat would be fucking awesome!

schrodingers cat meme

Regardless, the witches cast one last spell, just before they were hanged.

Three hundred years later, in not-so-modern-day Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison and his “laid-back, California, tie-dyed point-of-view” have relocated with parents and little sister Dani. Though he lives in the aparent Halloween capitol of the United States, Max isn’t buying into this whole “Sanderson sisters” bit. His enthusiasm for his new school and town is further lessened, by the bullies who steal his shoes.

ice
His name ain’t Ernie no more.

Disgruntled and frustrated, Max goes home in socks, only to flop on the bed and masturbate to the thought of Allison, the pretty girl in class, who totally shot him down. Fortunately, little sister Dani leaps from the closet before Max unzips, demanding to be taken trick-or-treating. Max puts up a fight, declaring that she’s eight and can go by herself.

dani screaming

Ultimately, Max ends up escorting his little sister, leading them to a luxurious house, owners unknown. Finally, we begin to see the true character of these little delinquents as they knock on the door of this stranger’s home, and upon receiving no answer, stroll right on in. Alright Dani, I’ll forgive you for this. You’re eight. There’s candy involved… but what the fuck Max?!?! You’re 16/17 years old! You’re on your way to a fucking B&E!

Fortunately for Max and Dani, this just happens to be the home of Max’s mastubatory heroine, the one and only Allison… and she is simply delighted that the boy she turned down earlier in the day is standing in her foyer uninvited and stealing candy. At this point, Dani embarrasses Max by declaring that he loves Allison’s “yabbos.” Rather than asking her obvious stalker to leave, the teenage model in a $200 Halloween costume laughs at the fact that the rude and awkward new kid has been talking to his kid sister about her tits.

allison hocus pocus

Allison seems taken with Dani and tells her that her mother used to run the museum dedicated to the Sanderson sisters. Max immediately suggests they break in.

boy that escalated quickly

I told you he was on his way to a B&E. Despite the protests of both Dani and Allison, the three criminals soon find themselves in the old Sanderson house… setting shit on fire.

just a bunch of hocus pocus

Okay, I get that this was just a candle with a mystical warning, but this place is a damned tinder box. Look at it! It’s made of 300 year old wood! It’s best not to start fires, y’all. Also, why the hell is all this stuff still here? Doesn’t someone own the merchandise? I mean, maybe they can’t just sell the Occult shit to tourists, but the lighters and the candy? If this place was so haunted that the workers had to just desert everything inside, I’m pretty sure Satan’s Damned Candle isn’t just sitting around with an “I dare you” sign on a box of matches. Just sayin’.

Max reads the inscription and Dani does not ask what a virgin is. I’m sorry, but this is the one thing that I just don’t buy. I’ll allow for the suspension of disbelief for everything else, but as much as I adore this movie, Dani was eight. They just said so! It was 1993 and her parents scolded Max for saying “sucked.” There is no way she knew what a virgin was. Anyway… just as Max lights the Black Flame Candle, the electric lights burst and… wait, wait, wait. If someone’s paying the electric bill, surely this place is better guarded than this!

Ahem…

Green lights flash as the witches strut in and marvel over who lit the Black Flame candle. Upon discovery of the children… wait. Hold it. In 1693, a boy Max’s age was considered a man. He likely had a wife and kids. What, exactly, are the parameters for “child?” Anyway… apparently Max and Allison both qualify as children, because the Sanderson sisters want to eat them as well. I’m a little confused as to whether or not they were, indeed, cannibals and feel Disney has done me a great disservice by not clarifying. Case in point: “Let’s barbecue and filet him.” – Mary

In an effort to flee, Max sets off the sprinkler system, insisting it is “the burning rain of death.” Okay, so at this point, this kid has not only broken into two houses and risked burning the latter to the ground, but now he’s flooded it? Three hundred year old wood is going to be seriously damaged by that much water! Eat him Winifred. Eat him and scratch your back with his spinal column, for destroying your home. Before Max can escape, Binx the cat leaps onto his chest, calls him a fucktard, and instructs him to steal the sisters’ spell book

1. Breaking and entering… twice
2. Lighting the Black Flame Candle
3. Flooding the house
4. Stealing the priceless Occult artifacts

How is Max the protagonist? Why is Max the protagonist? He asked for all of this.

Sidenote: Did anyone try to blow the Black Flame Candle out? I mean, it’s at least worth a go, you know?

After robbing a museum, the derelicts and cat seek refuge in a cemetery… after dark. That’s right. The cemetery was closed.

5. Breaking into a cemetery

In contrast, the Sanderson sisters did not break in. They just hovered over the ground for awhile. Eventually, events lead the witches, desperately trying to reclaim their rightful property, to a neighborhood filled with trick-or-treaters. In the meantime, Max leads Binx into the street, with no idea that he’s immortal, ultimately getting the cat run over. Even if he doesn’t die, we know it hurts, because he complained of pain later, when he was held over an open flame.

6. Killing/inflicting immense pain upon Binx

As the witches seek out children, the main ingredient in the potion that will allow them to live forever, they come upon a creepy old man dressed as Satan and think he’s the real deal. They figure their “master” can help them reclaim their book. Let’s just hope it’s not like the books get back, covered in urine. Who knows, though. Max clearly has no regard for anyone else’s property. The Sanderson sisters consult with Fake Satan, while Max and company try to convince a cop (psych) and eventually his own parents that they’re in danger. The sisters realize they’re mistaken about their master and leave to find that their brooms have been stolen by three children dressed as our “villains.”

stealing brooms

What?!?! 

Who the hell just steals a bunch of brooms that clearly belong to someone?!?! No wonder the Sanderson sisters want to kill children! It’s not like they’ve had any pleasant experiences with them!

The witches chase the “protagonists” to a town party, where Max has been unsuccessfully trying to convince his parents that he’s being stalked by the supernatural. No shit. Really? After the sisters put on a lovely performance, encouraging overweight Americans to get some exercise with “dance until you die!”, the children hatch a plan to burn the witches in the school kiln… in the middle of the night.

7. Breaking into a government building in the middle of the night
8. Operating highly volatile and expensive equipment with no experience
9. Burning school property in the form of a boombox used as bait

The witches burn as the children cheer… sadistic little shits. But, wait! They’re not really dead. Binx is fully aware that this may be the case, instructing them not to open the Sanderson sisters’ spell book. Allison, however, is enjoying her bad boy phase and declares “What harm could it do?”

hocus pocus book

For realz, yo?!?! It’s made of human skin and has a working eye. What the hell kind of harm do you think it can do?!?!

While Max was making out with Allison, the Sanderson sisters acquired some more children…

ice
Seriously. What is a child? On what are they basing this?

… and are currently waiting for death, when they look out the window and see the beacon sent out by the book. You know what? I’ve about decided that this is just the story of a woman desperately fighting censorship. We’ve got another activist here.

book burning

Belatedly, Binx the cat tells the kids that “nothing good can come from this book”… because it is made of human skin. Seriously. These kids fucking asked for it. There’s a final showdown in the cemetery…

10. Breaking into the cemetery again

… and sadly, Max survives, though Winifred had him in her clutches.

soul sucking hocus pocus

Not only does Max survive, but the Sanderson sisters perish. The worst part? The only intelligent and good being in the entire movie is officially killed. That’s right. Binx the Immortal Talking Cat is turned back into a stupid boyWhat the fuck, Disney? First you take the awesome talking furniture in Beauty and the Beast and turn it into boring ol’ people and then you kill Binx the Immortal Talking Cat?!?!?

The movie ends on this tragic note, but we see in the sequel that Max and Dani got theirs for leaving the bullies to slowly starve to death in cages. Though it’s never addressed in Hocus Pocus, the brief soul sucking leads to Max’s eventual demise. His parents no longer mention his name, their marriage crumbles, and Dani grows up to seek refuge from that tragic night, through the comfort of the deeply disturbed neighbor boy in…

american beauty

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Why I would not survive the horror movie.

When I was in high school, I was really into horror movies. Even now, it’s understood that Malik and I are slasher movie buddies, though I am more into picking them apart these days. For example…

Why is Carrie White suddenly an ultrasound tech?

Stanley Kubrick, I really don’t think you fully understand basic human anatomy.

I’m sorry, but those zombies would’ve completely decomposed in this heat. I’m not buying it.

This analytical frame of mind might not make me the best overall movie pal, but it certainly entertains me. It’s also allowed me great introspection into the question of whether or not I would survive a horror movie. Sometimes I’m 100% sure I would, because fuck that guy, I’ll totally shoot him in the foot as bait. Other times, I’m not so certain. So, in honor of Halloween, here are the top reasons why I wouldn’t survive a horror movie.

My Priorities

Spring in the Midwest is a terrifying time. I’ve written about my tornado adventures before, but even when we don’t have Hell funneling down from the sky, we do have some epic storms. Frankly, winter can be even worse. Whereas everyone north of my home state gets snow, we get ice. Ice sucks. It tears down power lines far worse than any rain storm. Regardless of the cause of a power outage, in every single instance, I am faced with a choice: I have time to charge my phone or my Kindle, before the storm gets bad. It seems like I’d be able to do both, but in the past, there has always been something keeping me from it. Perhaps, it’s that I’ve had to buy a new phone charger three times, and have been left with my Kindle charger when it’s out of commission. Each time, however, I end up with a fully charged Kindle and 18% on my phone, until the power comes back. I mean, that phone was only going to amuse me for so long, ya know? My Kindle battery lasts for 30 hours. It just made more sense.

samsung galaxy s3
Call for help?
kindle
… or pretend this isn’t happening?

Not only do I prefer reading over communicating with other people (why wouldn’t I?), but I also prefer my dog to most of humanity (why wouldn’t I?). It’s a recurring them in horror movies to kill or threaten the pet. There’s always some scene where the group goes into the room, sees that the family dog has been killed, its blood spelling out a warning, and they just sort of forget about the defenseless animal and fight for their own survival. I would become completely engrossed in the fact that my McSqueezybear had been harmed. I’d run to the scene of the crime to see if he could be helped, putting myself out in the open and completely vulnerable for the taking. If I wasn’t killed at this point, I would not care about fighting for my survival, anyway. The movie would suddenly become all about my effort to avenge/save my puppy, my safety becoming secondary. Naturally, that awesome and totally valid number one priority would get me super murdered.

Also, there are my princess tendencies. You know that scene in the horror movie, where the woman is crawling through the rat infested tunnel to-


No.

My Observational Skills

I worked at my first library for approximately two years. At about 20 months, I realized that one of the librarians was missing a thumb. I did not notice for two fucking years. I worked with this man every day! It’s not like our paths never crossed.

Me: OH EM GEE. I am the most self-absorbed person on the planet. I seriously JUST noticed that Joe is missing a thumb.
Gail: Wait. How do you not notice that? It’s a THUMB. 

Alright. Maybe that was a fluke.

Me: I am a horrible human being.
Gail: WHY?!?!
Me: I just realized Regina is not only missing a finger on one hand, but the fingers of the other are all severely deformed.
Gail: What is so dangerous about working in a library that these people are all missing appendages?!?! 

When I wrecked my car, back in June, my uncle asked if I’d been texting. I informed him that, no, I hadn’t. I’m just a terrible driver and wasn’t paying attention. I do not notice shit around me. In a way, this is an admirable trait. Regina holds her hand in a delicate way that betrays her discomfort with her disability. I didn’t even fucking notice. I overheard a regular favorite customer talking to a coworker about his “accident” about a year ago. It was then that I noticed his missing legHe wore shorts all the time and I never even realized he was bionic. He was just my friendly, cheerful customer.

NA/BIONIC
Accident? What accident?

However… this is not a benefit in a horror movie. I don’t even watch the news. I am 100% certain that the known serial killer, with the very specific pattern of raping and butchering librarians who look like Velma from Scooby Doo, could walk into my library and I’d greet him with a smile and ask how I could help. Then I’d follow him into the stacks alone. Gaily’s big source of contention with my online dating habits is that I’m not cautious or observant enough. Only during her lecture did I realize that most of the guys I’d dated had, in fact, been left alone with my drink. WHAT?!?! I had to pee.

Me: “Oh, come on, Gail. No one’s going to rape me in a Chili’s.”
Gail: “Stop leaving your fucking drink alone!”

As I’ve said before, I’ll get caught up telling Gail why I didn’t like a guy. She’ll tell me I’m being ridiculous. Then I’ll remember that teensy weensy detail.

Me: “Well, he did say one thing that might have been kind of weird, but I think I was reading into it.”
Gail: “What did he say?”
Me: “Well… um… nevermind. It sounds worse than it is, when I say it out loud.”
Gail: “What did he say?!?!”
Me: “Well, when I texted to ask what intersection we were meeting at, he responded with ‘the restaurant or my apartment?’, but I think he just misunderstood what I was asking.”
Gail: imitating my voice… poorly  “Ell oh ell! You don’t know how words work!”

killer clown
“Certainly, Sir. I’d be happy to help you take your books to your van. Behind the library? In the alley? Alrighty. Lead the way.”

My Coordination

Scene: I’m in a hurry to make dinner, because I’m going to miss the football game between my alma mater and our biggest rival. I don’t want to waste time getting out the cutting board, so I just hold the onion and slice it. There is blood.

Scene: I’m stepping out on the patio to get something out of my storage closet. I trip over the watering can, which gets stuck in a groove of the wooden planks and does not budge. The spout gouges out a chunk of my shin. There is blood.

Scene: I’m making Oreo Balls. I mix the cream cheese and Oreos in a food processor, but can’t get the resulting dough out. Naturally, I try to scoop it out with my fingers. There is blood.

I really don’t think I need to continue. You know the scene in Scream, where Drew Barrymore sneaks around the house with a chef’s knife? I’m pretty sure I’d save Ghost Face an awful lot of trouble by impaling myself on it, before he ever even found me. At the very least, I’d disable myself by dropping the knife on my foot or somehow stabbing myself in the eye while trying to scratch my ear. Forget about running from the killer. I tripped going up my own stairs just a few days ago. I almost landed on the dog. Working the phone quietly in the hallway, while the killer searches for me? I have an Otterbox on my phone, because I literally have an “Oh, shit. Did I crack it this time?” moment five or six times a week. I am not even going to have to baby proof my house when I have kids. I, myself, am already deeply endangered by sharp corners.

drew barrymore scream
=
edward scissorhands

My Mouth

There are many things at which I excel, such as not ending a sentence in a preposition. My impulse control, though? Nope… it sucks. In my defense, I can say that I don’t have a buying addiction. That’s all I can say, though. It was even worse when I was a kid. One day, my second grade teacher used the phrase “workbook.” I felt inclined to correct her and let her know it was just a “book.” I thought “workbook” sounded babyish. I made her so angry that she went to the third grade hall to get a math textbook. This very even-tempered woman shoved the book in my face, in front of the entire classroom, and told me that this was a math book and it was hard. My response? I rolled my eyes. The was my favorite teacher throughout elementary school. I just drove her to rage that day. In the 6th grade, when the principal told me that she’d never met anyone with the nerve to poor milk on a bully’s head, I thanked her sweetly. My first day of freshman year, my biology teacher made the obvious joke about my last name, which I’ve heard my entire life, and I responded in a deadpan voice “Oh my gosh. You’re the first person to ever notice that.” Wait. How did I get through high school without detention?!?!


Meanwhile, in Great Britain…

As an adult, I’ve improved. I realize that this kind of behavior is self-destructive and keep my “Well. I’m sorry you chose to take it that way.” apologies to a minimum. But in a horror movie? Under terrible duress?

anthony hopkins
“Bite me.”

F*#% you, I’m festive.

halloween tantrum

“Have you put up any (fall/Halloween/Christmas) decorations, yet?”
“Oh, I don’t decorate, since it’s just me. You really put up seasonal decorations?”

I have had that conversation at least 20 times, since my divorce. I’m aware that there are several reasons not to decorate for the holidays. Maybe you’re working 11 days a week and you’re neither home enough to put up decorations, nor are you around to enjoy them. Maybe you’ve just announced your divorce by knocking on your dad’s door and blurting “I’mgettingadivorceI’msorryIruinedChristmas” and you don’t feel like tainting such a wonderful season with bad mojo. Maybe you don’t already have those decorations and really don’t have the funds to devote to something with no function. Maybe you just don’t enjoy the holidays, because you have no soul. Fine. Whatever. You know what’s the worst fucking reason ever, though? That you’re single.

Lack of seasonal decor is not the only scenario in which I’ve heard people use their solo relationship status as an excuse for missing out on something. I hear it when someone didn’t get the chance to see a movie in theaters, eat at that new restaurant, go to the state fair, or see that live show. Being single has stopped these people from going shopping, having a night out on the town, and attending that reunion. Maybe your distaste for eating alone at a restaurant has nothing to do with embarrassment and you just think that sounds impossibly dull. Maybe the fair is expensive and makes you fat. Fine… but if the reason you’re not enjoying yourself is because you think everyone is staring in horror at the single person buying a Christmas tree, I assure you, they’re all equally self-absorbed and probably don’t even realize you exist.

I’m not preaching the virtues of being single over being in a relationship. Far from it. I want to write the “Did I really just agree to get married again!?!?!” and “Holy shit, I’m someone’s mom!” blog posts, eventually. Statistically speaking, as long as I’m trying, I will. So… I’m going to enjoy being single while it lasts. I love the fact that I can curl up underneath my favorite chair, suck my thumb, and write a blog post, without anyone there to tell me how incredibly weird that is. If I want to shout “POTTERTHON!” and tearfully sniff the words “Emotion should be hidden like the last fucking horcrux!” when Cedric’s dad yells “That’s my boy!”, I’m not interrupted to share the TV during Duck Dynasty or whatever stupid boy show someone wants to watch. I can sing and dance to songs about how awesome the dog is, while blaring 50’s Pandora and no one gets a say. I’m even going to do so with some fake pumpkins and cheap garland in the background, damn it!

If I’m not supposed to decorate for the holidays, because I’m alone, at what point do I get to start enjoying myself? Are we still so stuck on the archaic idea that life does not truly begin for a woman until marriage? That’s a silly question, because we sure as hell are in the South. Is it not enough that I go on all of these awful dates, but I also have to sit staring out the window alone on Halloween night, longing for the days I get to dress my kiddos up in cute costumes they hate? Horseshit. In 10 years, I’m going to be trudging up a sidewalk, sleepy toddler on my hip, freezing my ass off to beg for candy I’ll probably trash and replace when Gail convinces me it’s all poison and razor blades. I’m not going to be regretting the time I spent wishing my life would start. I’m going to be remembering the night I spent watching Everwood on DVD with Gaily, while we ate far too much candy and she kept snapping at me to stop swearing, because children existed and could be just outside the metal door that was at least 10 feet away from me.

razor blade apple
Geez. They were so much subtler when we were kids.

In 10 years, I’m going to listen to screams and giggles and arguments in the living room and remember that time I tried to teach myself the Thriller dance from YouTube… and failed. I’m going to stay up all night wrapping my presents with special Santa paper and bitching about how creepy Elf on the Shelf is, while longing for the days of my hot pink Christmas tree and half naked, semi-drunken, over-analyses of the claymation Rudolph movie.

“There are more important things than comfort: self respect! Santa can’t object to you now.”

Being single isn’t better than having a family of your own. It’s just a completely different and equally valid stage of life. Even if you want to find a long-term relationship, you’re here right now, regardless. You might as well enjoy it. I spent enough time wishing the world could spin faster, to know now how much I was missing in that moment. I almost missed all of this by getting married at age 12, so I’m not turning down the opportunity to enjoy it today and not just by going on bad dates or dancing with douche bags in bars, either. I’m going to watch Hocus Pocus before September even hits, dress up the dog, and decorate my purple foil Halloween tree, all for myself, because fuck you, I’m festive.