A look at the movie’s actual ties to Salem

There is no other place that creates an exciting witch plot like Salem, Massachusetts. With its integral connection to witchcraft and a true obsession with Halloween, the city of Salem provides the perfect backdrop to Disney’s iconic 1993 classic. Hocus pocus. For many millennials, watching Hocus pocus every October is a ritual; as inseparable from the season as latte with pumpkin spices and trampling on crunchy leaves. Best of all, the Sanderson sisters are back and going crazy all over Salem in the recently released Disney sequel, Hocus pocus 2.


Hocus pocus and its sequel opens with a flashback to 17th-century Salem, a place where you should clearly stay out of the woods and in the favor of the local people. Apart from Puritan bonnets and Old English, or Salem z Hocus pocus resemble history? Is Halloween in Salem as big of a deal as Max’s teacher seems to be? Although Hocus pocus is a fantasy, the movie has ties to the real Salem including the lead actress who is related to the accused witch! So leave your laid back Californian dyed point of view at the door as we’re delving into the world Hocus pocus and as it relates to Salem, then and now.

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Were the Sanderson sisters based on real witches?

In the 17th century, Salem was a really scary place. The threat of disease, attack from neighboring tribes, fear of the devil, and family feuds were all part of Thackery Binx’s daily life. In 1692, a Salem village doctor claimed that two girls had fallen victim to witchcraft and sparked a period of mass hysteria known as the Salem Witch Trials. As accusations of witchcraft began to circulate around town, single women like the Sanderson sisters were the easiest target of social prejudice. Add a mole (considered a sign of the devil) and any associations with a cat or small animal and it will probably go to the gallows. In a year, more than 200 people in Salem were charged with witchcraft, on the basis of everything from forced confessions to dreams and visions. Although Sarah, Mary, and Winifred in Hocus pocus not directly based on actual numbers, 19 accused witches were hanged in Salem, usually in public executions such as those of the Sanderson sisters.

What started as a dark and complex chapter in American history, filled with fear, turned charming and campy Hocus pocus. The film interestingly refers to the history of Salem; where towns and villages were considered blessed by God, and in the woods, witches danced freely. From black cats to brooms, Hocus pocus it also contains many famous images related to witches, so much so that Kathy Nijimy initially feared perpetuating stereotypes by taking on the role of Mary Sanderson. And yet, with a bit of Disney magic, draining the lives of young children somehow combines with Garry Marshall in a devilish costume to create a beloved family movie.

Related: Hocus Pocus and child-friendly horror art explained

Sarah Jessica Parker’s ancestor was accused of witchcraft in Salem

When Sarah Jessica Parker first put on her corset and performed serenades in Salem, she was unaware of the ghastly relationship she shared with her Hocus pocus character. During his 2010 appearance on NBC Who do you think you are?, The actress learned that she was a tenth-generation descendant of Esther Elwell, a woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Esther was not found eating spiders or dancing with Satan, but was accused of “various acts of witchcraft” by 17-year-old Elizabeth Hubbard. In November 1692, Elwell was taken to Ipswich, MA Jail, where she was to await trial.

Fortunately, in late 1692, the mass hysteria of the witch trials began to loosen the grip on Salem. Courts could no longer convict people on the basis of “spectral evidence” from dreams or visions. Elwell was released from prison and escaped as one of the innocents executed on witchcraft charges. Following her family’s roots, Parker was relieved to discover that her relative had survived the incident. Not to doubt Elwell’s innocence, but Parker was quite a convincing witch. The Sex and the City the star even told Stephen Colbert (via ET) that she felt great on a broomstick. But she also ate that spider.

Related: Hocus Pocus fans can spend their vacation at the Salem Sanderson Sisters’ cottage

You can visit Allison’s house in Salem

At the beginning Hocus pocus, Max Dennison is clearly a new baby to Salem. Complaining about Halloween invented by candy companies will surely not make him any friends. In the movie, Salem takes Halloween seriously – who wouldn’t want to go to this amazing Town Hall party? It turns out that the portrayal of Salem as a historic witchcraft center, whose inhabitants today are definitely obsessed with Halloween, is perfectly accurate. In real life, Salem has taken its infamous place in history, with countless witch-themed attractions and epic Halloween events throughout October. The city’s travel website even dedicates a page Hocus pocus filming locations you can visit.

Have you ever wanted to follow in the footsteps of Thackery Binx? Or admire the splendor of Allison’s house? Many of the most memorable scenes in Hocus pocus were filmed in Salem. Before meeting his feline fate, Thackery sets off on a cold morning searching for his sister in a scene that was filmed in Pioneer Village, Salem’s living history museum. Max and Dani experience a fraternal bond in front of Allison’s house, filmed at Ropes Mansion, a famous home in Salem. You can even take a photo in front of Max and Dani’s house. Salem enjoys a relationship with the movie and only asks for one thing Hocus pocus fans visiting the city: don’t run amok!

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