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The Sanderson Sisters are the main antagonists of the 1993 live-action film Hocus Pocus and its 2022 sequel Hocus Pocus 2. They're a trio of witch sisters who were the most powerful coven that ever lived, thanks to Winifred's book of spells.[1] In the first film, they were accidentally revived by Max Dennison in modern-day Salem and attempt to become immortal by consuming the life force of children using their Life Potion. In the sequel, they sought to cast a spell that would make them all-powerful so they could have their revenge on Salem.

Appearances

Hocus Pocus

In 1693, the Sanderson sisters had Sarah lure Emily Binx from Salem, Massachusetts to their cottage in the woods. Her older brother, Thackery, followed in an attempt to rescue her. However, he failed and was quickly dispatched by the Sanderson sisters, who brewed a Life Potion and used it to kill Emily on Halloween night.[1] After stealing her life force, the sisters were rejuvenated and made younger. After Thackey calls Winifred a hag, she decides not to kill him as punishment, and, to their amusement, she and her sisters transform him into a black cat who must live forever with his guilt of failing to save Emily. The townspeople, led by the Binx's parents, arrived and seized the sisters. On that same night, the three witches were hanged by the Salem townsfolk. But not before they cast a curse: if a virgin should light the Black Flame Candle on All Hallow's Eve with a full moon in the sky, the Sanderson vowed they would one day return to take revenge on all of Salem.

In 1993, a teenager named Max Dennison, his sister, Dani, and crush, Allison, visit the Sanderson sisters' cottage, now a former museum, on Halloween night. While there, Max finds the Black Flame Candle and lights it, which causes the house to suddenly come to life; this culminates in the sisters reentering the front door for the first time in 300 years. Mary quickly finds Dani with her power to sniff out children, but Max interrupts before they can partake in a long overdue dinner. He tricks them into thinking he is a wizard using a lighter to summon the "Burning Rain of Death" (the fire alarm system) in the house. Before he can leave, however, Thackery, who can now talk as a cat, makes him grab the spellbook so the sisters can't create their life-stealing potion. They soon give chase and Thackery leads them to a graveyard, telling them stories of the sisters, Allison deduces who he is. As the sisters can't set foot on hallowed ground, and air assaults are useless to the quickly moving children, Winifred summons her ex-boyfriend, Billy Butcherson, a zombie whom she caught cheating on her with Sarah and whose mouth was sewn shut with a dull needle, so he can't divulge her secrets, to chase them. They escape through the sewers and Max knocks Billy's head off.

The sisters encounter a bus and Sarah is driving it when Thackery emerges from the sewers. Max and the others witness his death and resurrection due to the curse that he can't die. Meanwhile, unable to track Max and the others, the sisters encounter trick-or-treaters, furthering their confusion of Halloween night. After an encounter with a man dressed as Satan and mistaking him for their true master who is wed to Medusa (a woman with snakes for hair), Winifred realizes the truth of Halloween, while their broomsticks are stolen by children dressed as them. Max and the others try to tell the police but find a man dressed as a police officer instead. They go to warn their parents, but the sisters arrive and in a big song and dance number, discredit their claims and curse the adults to dance until they die. The kids lure the sisters to the high school and into a kiln where they are apparently burned to death. They are resurrected and return home defeated, Winifred is unable to remember the ingredients to the potion and they fall into despair as it was earlier established that the candle only brought them back to life for that night, and unless they can use the potion on children by sunrise, they are dust and cease to exist. As Dani and Thackery rest, Allison and Max, despite the warnings that nothing good can come from the book, open it to find a cure for his immortality. It signals the sisters who use a corn broom, a mop, and a Hoover vacuum cleaner to fly to its location. They secretly invade the house and grab the book, Thackery and Dani before violently exploding from the house, but not before Winifred reveals the nature of the spell that brought them back to Allison. Sarah uses her power, a siren song, to lure the children of Salem to the house.

Max and Allison give chase and Max manages to trick the sisters again, using the headlights of his parents' car to simulate sunrise. In the confusion, he frees Dani and Thackery and they return to the graveyard to hold out against the sisters. They encounter Billy and after using a knife to cut the stitches on his mouth, he apparently breaks the control Winifred has over him and joins the kids against them. They hold out well to start with, but Dani exits her protected grave plot when Winifred kicks off Billy's head and uses it to her advantage, swooping down and taking Dani. Thackery saves her by knocking the last vial of the potion out of Winifred's hand, which Max catches and drinks it to take her place. Winifred drops Dani and picks up Max to drain his life force, but Allison, Dani, and Billy cause a distraction using Sarah and Mary, which gives Max the opportunity to knock both himself and Winifred to the ground as Sarah and Mary fly up into the sky out of control. Winifred recovers and tries to steal Max's life force, but because she is standing on hallowed ground, she turns to stone. As the sun comes up, Mary and Sarah bid their goodbyes dramatically before exploding, followed shortly after by Winifred's statue exploding. With the sisters gone, the spell over Thackery is broken, and his soul reunites with Emily's spirit in the afterlife.

Meanwhile, back at the Sanderson's cottage, the eye of Winifred's spellbook opens up and looks around, hinting that perhaps the sisters aren't completely gone after all.

Hocus Pocus 2

In 1653 Salem, a young Winifred Sanderson is banished from Salem by Reverend Traske after she defied the authority of the church by refusing to marry John Pritchett. Rather than let her sisters Mary and Sarah be taken away from her, Winifred escapes with them to a nearby forbidden forest. There, they make the acquaintance of Mother Witch who gifts Winifred her magic book for her sixteenth birthday but explicitly warns the sisters against casting a spell known as the Magicae Maxima, which makes the user all-powerful. Mother Witch also teaches the sisters to kill other children to keep their youthfulness.

In 2022, twenty-nine years after the Sanderson sisters were resurrected by the Black Flame Candle, Salem teenagers Becca and Izzy prepare to celebrate both Halloween and Becca's sixteenth birthday but turn down a party invitation from their estranged friend Cassie Traske. Becca and Izzy visit a magic shop (formerly the Sanderson cottage) run by Gilbert, who gifts Becca a candle for their annual birthday ritual. Becca and Izzy light the candle and discover that it is another Black Flame Candle. As there is a full moon and the girls are both virgins, the candle resurrects the Sanderson sisters once again.

The girls manage to outwit the sisters in a local Walgreens and then escape to the magic shop where they discover that Gilbert tricked them into reviving the sisters, having seen them on Halloween back in 1993 and being taught how to make the candle by Book. The sisters catch up to the girls and see a campaign flyer belonging to Mayor Traske, Cassie's father and Reverend Traske's direct descendant. Winifred decides they will cast the Magicae Maxima spell to eliminate Traske and take revenge on Salem. The sisters trap Izzy and Becca in the basement and leave to hunt down Traske, whose blood is needed to complete the spell. They force Gilbert to collect the other ingredients.

The girls escape and head to the Traske house to warn the mayor while the sisters find their way to the town's Halloween carnival and enchant the citizens to help them find the mayor. Meanwhile, Gilbert digs up Billy Butcherson, who has been awake but entombed since 1993. Gilbert needs Billy's head for the spell but tricks Billy into helping him collect the other ingredients first.

The girls reunite with Cassie and manage to trap the sisters within a salt circle in Cassie's garage before Mayor Traske returns home. The three teenagers make amends with one another but their reunion is interrupted when the sisters escape the circle and kidnap Cassie to use her blood instead. Becca and Izzy follow them to the forbidden forest where Gilbert has assembled the ingredients and soon discovers that Becca is also a witch. The sisters partially cast the spell and increase their power, but Becca distracts them while Izzy rescues Cassie. Becca manages to convince Book that it does not have to answer to Winifred, and Becca and Book flee further into the forest. The book shows them a warning about the Magicae Maxima spell, stating that whoever casts it must give up what they cherish most.

The girls agree to warn Winifred of the price of the spell but are too late: Winifred becomes all-powerful as Mary and Sarah fade to dust. Winifred grows despondent and begs the teenagers to use their newfound powers to save her sisters. While they cannot save the two, Becca, Cassie and Izzy join together in a coven and cast a reuniting spell and Winifred happily fades away to be reunited with her sisters.

The girls are joined by Gilbert and Billy while Billy starts to fade away, realizing that all of Winifred's spells have been undone and relieved to finally be headed to his eternal rest. The girls decide to give Book a new home and continue practicing their magic as they walk off into the night in a similar manner as the Sanderson sisters. As they leave, a crow identical to the one that Mother Witch had shapeshifted into flies overhead.

Other appearances

The Sanderson Sisters made a cameo appearance in The Owl House episode, "Thanks to Them". In Willow's scrapbook, there is a photo of her with Luz and Amity having a movie night, watching Hocus Pocus. The Sanderson Sisters can be seen on the TV screen.

Disney Parks

The Sanderson sisters make their Disney Parks debut as the stars of the new Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. They add ingredients to their party potion and are aided by various Disney Villains including Doctor Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Hades, Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook, Jafar, and Lady Tremaine. At the end of the show, the villains join the sisters in singing "I Put a Spell on You".

In the show, their worship of "the master" (the Devil) is changed to worship of Maleficent. This is ostensibly to make the show more family-friendly. That being said, Maleficent is established as having her powers come from H--- ("Now you shall deal with me, oh prince, and all the powers of H---!").

For the 2022 Halloween season, the Disney Cruise Line will debut a meet and greet with classic Disney characters dressing as the Sanderson Sisters with Minnie Mouse as Winifred, Clarabelle Cow as Mary, and Daisy Duck as Sarah.

Trivia

  • The sequel confirmed Winifred was born in 1637. Thus in 1693, she'd only be around 56 years old. The fact that she and her younger sisters appeared to be old hags prior to draining the life out of Emily Binx implies that their use of dark magic may have accelerated their aging process, causing them to grow older and uglier much faster than normal. However, their capacity to restore their youth by draining life may compensate for this.
  • The sequel confirmed that the person referred to as "mother" in the first movie was the Witch mother and not her biological mother. Most of the first movie talked about the things that were done were typical of a witch.
    • In addition to the sequel, they mention their father for the first time, which according to what they mentioned when they went to a pharmacy, they mention that he had a small apothecary in the old Salem.

Gallery

Promotional Images

Photography

Miscellaneous

References

v - e - d
Hocus Pocus logo
Media
Hocus Pocus (soundtrack/video) • Hocus Pocus 2 (soundtrack) • Hocus Pocus 3Disney Emoji BlitzHocus Pocus & the All-New SequelChibi Tiny TalesHocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween BashIn Search of the Sanderson Sisters: A Hocus Pocus Hulaween Takeover
Disney Parks
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular
Characters
Original: Sanderson Sisters (Winifred/Mary/Sarah) • Max DennisonDani DennisonAllisonThackery BinxBilly ButchersonDave DennisonJenny DennisonEmily BinxErnieJay TaylorMiss OlinThe DevilThe Devil's Wife

Sequel: BeccaIzzyCassie TraskeMikeGilbertMayor TraskeThe Witch Mother

Songs
Original: Come Little ChildrenI Put a Spell on YouWitchcraft

Sequel: The Witches Are BackSkeleton SamPlanet ClaireGhostedSomebody's Watching MeHocus Pocus Voo DooAfraid of the NightOne Way or Another

Locations
MassachusettsSanderson Sisters' CottageOld Burial HillSalemOlde Salem Magic ShoppeWalgreens
Objects
Black Flame CandleManual of Witchcraft and AlchemyLife Potion
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