I was a worker in Walt Disney Productions when I was young, and let me tell ya, I got paid REALLY good. Too bad that the project for the comedy horror fantasy film, Hocus Pocus, was a big hassle. It was typically not a critical, or commercial success when it was first released, but it became a cult film. Largely from annual airings on Disney Channel and Freeform (formerly ABC Family). But what a lot of people didn't know that this was just a pilot for the original, just to hide it's real potential, and cover up the horrors of the very first project of Hocus Pocus. Never heard of it? Don't worry. I can't find a single person online who has.
The original version was due to be released in 1984, the very same night the movie theaters were playing the horror film, Nightmare On Elm Street. And when the people there sat down to watch our first screening, what they saw scared the ever living shit out of the viewers.
It started in 1693 on October 31, near Salem Massachusetts, Thackery Binx (Originally played by Stephen Geoffreys) sees his little sister, Emily, spirited away to the cottage of three witches, Winifred (Originally played by Anjelica Huston), I remember her having long stringy hair, pale corpse-like skin thinly stretched over a lanky skeleton, she had one empty, soulless, black eye, and sharp jagged teeth, like those vampires have in the movie Fright Night. She spoke in a horrible high-pitched screeching voice, that sounded a lot like that horrible screaming sound red foxes made, except forming words. Then there's Sarah (Originally played by Jane Horrocks) and Mary (Originally played by Kathleen Turner).
Winifred, Sarah and Mary cast a spell on Emily to absorb her youth and regain their own, killing her in the process. Thackery confronts the witches, but Winifred dug her sharp nails into his face, tearing into the skin on his face like five knives, and told the other two witch sisters to hold him still.
Then came on screen was some sort of pale-skinned obese being that had no facial features other than a pair of black, jelly blob eyes and an enormous wide mouth filled with sharp teeth, that made a screaming/laughing sound like a demonic Donald Duck, as it crawled on its big round belly and tried to grab at Thackery's feet with his sharp, metallic claws, trying to eat him. But Winifred shooed it away. She then called her spell book and it floated towards her. Speaking of which, that's another thing I remember quite vividly. The book is similar to the 1993 version. The thing is, we forgot to change the book, but that's alright. People love the 1993 version better than the nightmarish version we made. As Winifred grabbed the book, and flipped through pages, she found a spell to turn him into an immortal black cat. As she did this, the transformation from human to cat was one of the most cringy moments people had ever seen! In the 1993 version, Thackery's transformation was off screen and was in his eye view of the witches. But in the 1984 version, it was similar to the werewolf transformation in Hemlock Grove, but more bloody and too grotesque for younger viewers. In the theater, I saw a man immediately get up from his seat and ran into where you dump your trash in, and vomited in it.
Thackery's cat form was the same size of his human self, and he became frantic at the site of what became of him, and started crying and begging for Winifred to turn him back. But she spat into his face with no remorse. The townsfolk, led by Binx's father, capture the witches. But before being hanged, Winifred's spell book casts a curse that will resurrect the witches during a full moon on All Hallows Eve when any virgin lights the Black Flame Candle. Thackery guards the cottage to ensure no one summons the witches.
300 years later, on October 31, 1993, Max Dennison (Originally played by Fred Savage) is feeling unsettled from his family's sudden move from Los Angeles to Salem. While exploring the town, he and his sister Dani (Originally played by Margaret Whitton) meet Allison (Originally played by Amber Barretto), whose family owns the Sanderson cottage as a museum. Max suggests that they go there and impress Allison, but is forced to take Dani trick-or-treating. The rest of the film was just like the 1993 version, only more like another episode of The Goldberg's, only THAT show came years later in 2017.
Investigating inside the cottage, Max lights the Black Flame Candle and inadvertently resurrects the witches, who plot to continue their plan to suck out the souls of all of Salem's children, beginning with Dani. Escaping, Max steals Winifred's spell book on advice from Thackery, who yelled and threatened him for lighting The Black Flame Candle, becoming more of an unlikable character throughout the movie. Spoiler alert, Thackery's the side antagonist in the 1984 version! During his days as a big cat, he met the Devil himself, who is nothing we had ever seen in the film. He's not your typical red man with Devil horns and a pitchfork. No. He is like the Horned King from The Black Cauldron. Instead, he wore a black hooded robe with eyes that resembled two balls of fire, and spoke like Hannibal Lector.
He told him that he'd turn him back into a human. In one condition. Thackery would kill the virgin who would bring back the Sanderson Sisters. He agreed and waited for Max to light The Black Flame Candle. During the film, Thackery would run along with the three kids, stalking Max with crazed intentions. He became more like Gollum from Lord of The Rings, because of two reasons.
1. I think after he was transformed into a giant black cat, he went insane (Just my theory).
2. His character quickly changed into more of a unlikable character after he met Max, Dani, and Allison.
The movie progressed. The witches pursue them to a cemetery, where Winifred raises her unfaithful lover Billy Butcherson as a zombie to chase them on foot. The witches try to acclimate to the 20th century, but are horrified when they discover Halloween has become a holiday, and their broomsticks are stolen. The witches plan to achieve their goals or they will be disintegrated on sunrise. They pursue the children across town using Mary's enhanced sense of smell. Max, Allison and Dani find their parents at a Halloween party at the town hall, where Winifred enchants the partygoers to dance and sing until they die. At Jacob Bailey High School, the children trap the witches in a kiln to burn them alive.
While celebrating, Thackery laughed a maniacal, evil laugh and revealed his true intentions. He knocked Max down and tried to maul him. But Dani and Allison threw beer bottles and soda cans from the trash barrels at the beast, who ran off in the alleyways. They held Max up and ran into the cemetery gates.
Back at the cemetery, Max runs into Billy, who cuts open his stitched up mouth and insults Winifred, joining Max to protect Dani. The witches attack and Winifred attempts to suck out the soul from Dani with the single vial of potion she retrieved from her cauldron. Dani takes the potion from Winifred and threw it to Max. Rather than smashing the vial, Max drinks it and apparently makes himself a sacrifice. As the sun rises, Winifred is unable to drain Max's life force from him after falling into the hallowed ground, and soon turns to stone and is disintegrated to dust along with her sisters.
Thackery comes back and attempts to maul Max once again, and this time, he bites into his neck, holding him like this till he went limp. Dani, Allison and Billy are shocked as the monster does this in front of them, and the beast turns to them and collapses. He is turning back into a human, but in a last attempt to end the evil forever, Dani screams in fury and violently plunges the wooden end of Winifred's broomstick down Thackery's mouth during mid transformation. Thackery chokes and gags as he tries to pull the broomstick from his throat. But he turns back into a naked human and dies. His body sat and laid on the tombstone reading, "Here lies: Emily Binx", it read when she was born, and when she died.
As the satisfied Billy returns to his grave, Dani wept over the body of her now, dead brother. As the end credits begin, the exhausted partygoers are freed from the spell and return home. Meanwhile, at the Sandersons' cottage, Jay and Ernie, two male bullies who earlier tormented Max and Dani, remain imprisoned in their cages while passing the time singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". The film ends with Winnie's spell book opening its eye, implying that Winnie's last words re-activated the resurrection spell.
It was finally over, and the people walked out of the theater knowing they're going to have nightmares tonight. The children there were already crying, some of them were pale as a corpse. The film was forever locked in the Disney Vault, then every piece of information of the 1984 version of the film sort of, vanished from existence. Right before I wrote this down, I asked the workers in Disneyworld about the 1984 version of Hocus Pocus, and they said that they watched it with their parents, proving that I did not imagine or dream it.
If you see any evidence of the 1984 version, please, post parts of it as footage on YouTube, or download a snapshot of it on Google. Provide some proof of it, just so I can show the world that Disney's most nightmarish film ever really did exist.