Disney's Version of The Evil Dead?A
couple of nights ago, I decided to re-watch Hocus Pocus, and for whatever reason, something OH SO OBVIOUS suddenly dawned on me. Tell me if all of these elements sound even vaguely familiar:
Undead hags threatening to suck the souls out of people.
The living dead having their heads knocked off and their limbs severed.
Kids unwittingly unleashing demonic forces from the woods.
And oh yeah, an EVIL BOOK BOUND IN HUMAN FLESH containing more unholy passages than Sarah Palin's autobiography.
Do those four elements sound familiar? Well, if you are even a medium sized fan of horror, you would know that all of those aspects can be found in a film that came out ten years before
Well, it only took me twenty freaking years to figure it out, but NOW, it's crystal clear: Disney's Hocus Pocus is really nothing more than a PG rated version of Sam Raimi's legendary The Evil Dead.
Of course, it ISN'T a scene-by-scene remake, obviously (even though you have to wonder, with all of that animation know-how at Disney, the tree-attack scene would have been something AWESOME here.)
Although Hocus Pocus lacks either chainsaws or Bruce Campbell, it still shares a startling number of similarities with The Evil Dead. As a matter of fact, I have pinpointed five commonalities the films share, which, as we all know, just HAVE to be coincidental, right?
BOTH FILMS CONTAIN A FAIR NUMBER OF HAGS
The Evil Dead is a movie about three somewhat normal looking chicks that get turned into supernatural hags. Conversely, Hocus Pocus is about three supernatural hags that get turned into somewhat normal looking chicks. And if you ask me, there is just a smidgeon
of similarity between the make-up design for one of the Evil Dead monsters and pre-transformation Bette Midler, no?
BOTH FILMS CONTAIN SCENES OF TOTAL BODY DISMEMBERMENT
One of the great gimmicks behind the Evil Dead was that the only way to kill the eponymous Dead was to hack them limb from limb. This, in turn, results in a WHOLE lot of arms, legs and heads rolling throughout the duration of the film. Surprisingly, Hocus Pocus is a movie that shares this recurring motif, as the Sanderson Sisters conjure up a zombie that has a nasty habit of being decapitated and squashed at the most inopportune of times.
BOTH FILMS ARE ABOUT SOUL STEALING DEMONS
In The Evil Dead, dumb ass college kids get possessed by Sumerian demons, which leap from host body to host body, with the intent of sucking up the spirits of whoever's body they're inside for sustenance. Hocus Pocus is about pretty much the same thing, only once the demons get a hold of you and kill you, you are just plain dead from here on out. That, and I would have to say the methods in Hocus Pocus are a LOT grosser than they are in the Evil Dead. I mean, really, what fate could be worse than having Bette Middler try to suck your face right off your skull?
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL... IF YOU WANT TO DIE, THAT IS
This is perhaps the most OBVIOUS similarity between the two films. In The Evil Dead, a bunch of kids accidentally unleash demonic spirits from their slumber after messing around with a book made out of human skin. In Hocus Pocus. . .well, pretty much the EXACT same thing serves as the catalyst for the story, only with some extra nonsense about virgins lighting candles thrown in for good measure.
THE CONCLUSIONS BOTH INVOLVE SUNLIGHT AND LOTS OF ICKINESS
In The Evil Dead, the monsters of the film are killed when the morning sun finally breaks through the night sky, resulting in the demons transmogrifying into puddles of clay and peach cobbler. In Hocus Pocus, the ending is virtually identical, with the sun turning the monsters of the film into statues that explode into rays of light that just so happen to match the colors of the dresses they have been wearing throughout the entirety of the film. But hey, did you really expect Disney executives to vouch for one of their movies ending with a shower of blood and Sarah Jessica Parker guts?A
nd if you look at the bigger picture, there are even MORE similarities, if you can believe it. Both films are about people turning into non-human things (zombies in The Evil Dead and cats in Hocus Pocus), and both films have their fair share of dark humor thrown into the mix. Even the directors of the film share a few commonalities, as both Sam Raimi and Kenny Ortega went on to have their careers defined by non-related trilogies (in the case of Raimi, Spider-Man and for Ortega, High School Musical).
I'm pretty sure I'm missing out on a lot of other similarities, too. This Halloween, if you're still looking for a double bill, why don't you try screening these two flicks back to back, and see if you uncover any other additional parallels?
James Swift is a freelance writer and author of two books, How I Survived Three Years at a Two-Year Community College: A Junior Memoir of Epic Proportions and Mascara Contra Mascara: A Tale of Two Masks.
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