The virtual Hulaween benefit, “In Search of The Sanderson Sisters, A Hocus Pocus Hulaween Takeover,” took place Friday, with stars of the cult classic Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy reprising their roles (and outfits) for the hour-long witchy event.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the horror hostess depicted by Cassandra Peterson, emceed the mockumentary show, which explored the three sisters’ history, answering questions about their ancestry, education, music careers, fateful love affairs and more. Fellow castmates Thora Birch, Omri Katz and Doug Jones also joined the reunion.
Along for the ride were Glenn Close, Billy Crystal, Jamie Lee Curtis, Samantha Diaz, Todrick Hall, Jennifer Hudson, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Michael Kors and his husband Lance LePere, Adam Lambert, George Lopez, Alex Moffat, Vinessa Shaw (who played Allison in “Hocus Pocus”), Martin Short, Sarah Silverman, John Stamos, Meryl Streep, Kenan Thompson, Sophie von Haselberg, Bella Hadid and Mariah Carey.
The 1993 Halloween classic follows a trio of witches who are resurrected three centuries after their execution by a curious boy named Max (Katz) in Salem, Mass. As the witches try to acclimate to the 20th century, they find to their horror that Halloween has become a holiday. Before they can succeed in wreaking havoc, Max must save his town from falling under the witches’ spell.
Set in 2020, the virtual benefit kicked off with an introduction from Elvira, who has been attempting to bring back the Sanderson sisters during quarantine with the help of her talking grimoire (Lopez). In the meantime, she debuts her documentary, featuring grown-up versions of characters from the film, along with made-up characters such as Harry Potter’s “brothers” Garry (Alex Brightman) and Barry Potter (Billy Eichner), discussing their horrible experiences with the three sisters.
From Streep calling the sisters “bats–t” to the Potters brothers accusing the Sandersons of scamming their way into Hogwarts in a direct dig at the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, each interviewee calls for them to not be reincarnated. As Binx the Cat (portrayed by Moffat) says, 2020 is already faring poorly.
After enlisting help from Max, who is still a virgin and can light the Black Flame Candle to bring back the trio of witches, Elvira conjures the Sandersons, who are ready to wreak havoc at the behest of the eldest sister, Winnie. But upon encountering Master Devil, portrayed by Stamos, who adopts President Donald Trump-like rhetoric, she finds out much to her disgust that she must commit a good deed, lest she wants there to be no Earth left to haunt and render herself obsolete.
At the conclusion of the Sandersons’ benefit, Winnie is shown knocking on Carey’s door, who informs her that Halloween is over, and it’s her “turn” now, as “All I Want for Christmas Is You” begins playing.
— Charmingchestnuts (@Charmingchest) October 31, 2020
Throughout the viewing, audience members were shown clips of the work being done by Midler’s foundation and were prompted to donate at nypr.org. The virtual benefit, which was executive produced by Midler and filmed from more than 70 locations, also featured symbols encouraging people to vote.
In recent years, “Hocus Pocus” has solidified its place as an annual must-watch during the month of October, amid the likes of “Halloweentown” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” As a result, the fan-favorite has garnered a sequel, which is currently in the works at Disney Plus. Adam Shankman, best known for “Hairspray,” “Step Up” and “A Walk to Remember,” is directing the sequel from a screenplay by “Workaholics” writer Jen D’Angelo. At this time, it’s unknown if any original cast members will return.