Salem, Massachusetts, 1693: Winnie (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) are three not-so-bright but evil witches who tend to eat children’s souls to become immortal. Angry villagers hang them, but 300 years later young protagonist Max (Omri Katz), while trying to impress love interest Allison (Vinessa Shaw), brings the ladies back to life. They waste no time in trying to once again claim victims—in particular Max’s little sister Dani (Thora Birch). The three kids (plus talking cat Thackery and reanimated corpse Billy) team up to put an end to the sisters’ villainy for good.
It’s made by Disney, but as with any Disney film, it’s not all sweetness and light. There are quite a few less than savory for children aspects of the film. The witches have a pretty grim habit, and do manage to actually kill a little girl (though she’s not a main character). Mary excitedly calls Dani “shish-ka-baby.” Thackery gets run over and flattened, but he’s immortal, and re-inflates himself. Billy, the aforementioned corpse, is a little the worse for wear, but not altogether gory or bloody; he looks a lot like the zombies in the “Thriller” video. The word “virgin” comes up pretty consistently, as a virgin is needed to summon the sisters. Sarah has the disturbing habit of wanting to toy with her teenage victims, asking Winnie to “Hang him on a hook and let me play with him.”
Cautions aside, I saw the movie first when I was ten or so, and it didn’t damage me. It was a big part of my childhood, and I still enjoy it. Actually, I work at the public library, and that movie is still in pretty big demand, especially around Halloween. There is nothing scary about the witches’ appearance; it’s their behavior that may scare younglings. There’s also the lesson that Max learns about not taking his little sister for granted. It can be funny at times, like when the witches lose their brooms—Sarah rides a mop, and Wendy rides a vacuum. The special effects aren’t terrible for 1993.