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Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 Review with Historical Commentary

Hocus Pocus Review with Historical Commentary Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Join us for a fun bonus episode, as we review both Hocus Pocus movies and share our thoughts on the real history of the Salem Witch Trials, as it relates to the films. SPOILER ALERT. We take a deep dive into the details of Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2. We discuss:What we like, as well as what we're not so fond of.How events in the movie compare to events in the real-life Salem Witch Trials and other witch-hunts.The identity of Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestor who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch-Hunt.Theories about the origins of the Sanderson sisters.Easter eggs. Modern-day witch-hunting.The case of Esther ElwellDiscordthoushaltnotsuffer.comTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInYouTubeTikTokSupport the show

Show Notes:

Join us for a fun bonus episode, as we review both Hocus Pocus movies and share our thoughts on the real history of the Salem Witch Trials, as it relates to the films. 

SPOILER ALERT. We take a deep dive into the details of Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2. 

We discuss:

The case of Esther Elwell

Support the show

Hocus Pocus Review
[00:00:00] Josh Hutchinson: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Deuteronomy 22:18.
[00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to a very special episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:00:33] Sarah Jack: Thank you for joining us. 
[00:00:35] Josh Hutchinson: We are thrilled to discuss the Hocus Pocus movies. What a bunch of fun. We'll discuss the entertainment value, and we'll get into the history, as we go along. 
[00:00:46] Sarah Jack: Beware. Major spoiler alert. 
[00:00:51] Josh Hutchinson: We will get into details of the plot, the characters, the whole story. If you have not watched Hocus Pocus and [00:01:00] Hocus Pocus 2, I do suggest you pause us, just for the length of the movies. See whichever movies you haven't seen. Come back to us please.
[00:01:11] I found the movies to be very entertaining. I rather enjoyed both of them. loved the second one. I like the characters. I like the cast, especially in the second one. I like that they begin with a historical element, and they reference that throughout the movie. I'm very interested in the village scenes and the interaction between the 17th century characters. I loved all that. 
[00:01:49] I like a lot about both of the movies. I love the whole legend of the Sanderson Sisters, the Black Flame Candle, [00:02:00] all the elements of their story that's being shared in modern times in both movies. I like in the second one, especially the way they costumed the villagers in the opening scene. I liked that they had most of the villagers wearing semi-colorful outfits. They would've called it sad colors. They're, faded. They're not ostentatious, but they're different colors, which they really wore in real life. The minister's all in black, which is accurate. 
[00:02:36] Sarah Jack: I was so interested and focused on who am I gonna see in these roles? How are they opening this continuation? What's gonna be the first problem here? The first thing that got my attention in the movie was the jello, because it was like a mystery to them. And the writers put that in there. It's one of the first things they use to, [00:03:00] portend that they're going to become witches.
[00:03:03] Josh Hutchinson: The beginning, they're creating new inventions. They've discovered that you grind up pig hooves and mix 'em with water.
[00:03:12] Sarah Jack: In the opening scenes of number two, when the girls are in there, they've talked about the jello, Mary and Sarah are excited about celebrating Winifred's birthday.
[00:03:21] She's just had this argument with Reverend Trask. Anyways, knock. And we're like so pulled into that little room. We're looking at what was their home. You see the table, you see the jello, you see the herbs hanging. You're just, you can see that they're surrounded by things that would cause us to think witches. And they opened the door and the mob is there, and the reverend is like right there He's saying he's not accepting her behavior and response on the marriage arrangement.[00:04:00] 
[00:04:00] Josh Hutchinson: I found the marriage arrangement interesting. It's actually pretty accurate that a girl of that age was marrying age back then.
[00:04:11] At that age, either you're turned out of the house to be a maid in someone else's household. You work as a maid servant or you get married. I know the average age of marriage for both men and women was in their twenties, but there are a lot of cases of girls I've seen as young as 14, getting married to older men, which is disgusting and very creepy. But it is true.
[00:04:44] Sarah Jack: If they were parentless, would the pastor be arranging the marriage? 
[00:04:50] Josh Hutchinson: If they were parentless, they would've been placed in other homes. They'd all be working as maid servants probably in [00:05:00] three different households. You didn't leave children to fend for themselves, and women who lived alone were viewed with suspicion. 
[00:05:09] Sarah Jack: And they were definitely suspect.
[00:05:12] Josh Hutchinson: They're presumably the only children that their parents had, so they would've gotten an inheritance, but not necessarily all of it. Some of it might have gone to any male relatives that they had, and they would've been turned out of their home for sure. 
[00:05:35] Sarah Jack: With Winifred's clash with the reverend, she was arguing with him. She refused the arrangement. And then of course the taking God's name in vain. And, she was happy to ruffle the minister's feathers when they started the story out with that conflict, they gave it a lot of layers and the [00:06:00] opener really built up to something.
[00:06:01] You were surprised maybe, that they didn't want to run into the forbidden woods, but you knew that must be where the story starts out. So what's gonna happen in there? What are they gonna find? So that was very exciting to me for them to run in there. 
[00:06:18] Josh Hutchinson: It starts out even before that, you notice they're oddballs. They're very different than the rest of the community. They love the spider. They're eccentric characters. 
[00:06:33] Sarah Jack: Mary's hair was already shaped like a witch hat as a young girl. 
[00:06:38] Josh Hutchinson: And I loved the child actors they had in the second movie. I thought they did a fantastic job portraying those characters.
[00:06:50] Sarah Jack: Absolutely. I was thrilled with it. You felt that they were the Sanderson sisters. You wanted more of their story at [00:07:00] that age.
[00:07:00] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, it was good to look back at them in 1653, what they were up to, how they had their personalities already developed at their young ages. I loved in general the casting of the second one. I thought they had a stronger overall cast than the first one. I'm a fan of Tony Hale. I love that he was the reverend and the mayor, thought he did a great job, both of those. And the whole spider thing is so funny, the way he reacts, and then you see it on his coat and he doesn't realize that it's back on his coat. And then the girls run into the woods. And you were gonna talk about what happened in the Forbidden wood. 
[00:07:51] Sarah Jack: I think one of the last things that they show the girls doing that portends their [00:08:00] very fast transformation into witches, one of the very last things that you see them do that can be looked at as innocent is they form the circle, but they call it the calming circle. 
[00:08:13] Josh Hutchinson: And then, that mysterious bird comes around. Becomes Mother Witch, which explains a reference in the first movie, where they say something like, "Mother would be so disappointed." Now we find out who Mother is. It's not their birth mother, it's their mother witch who gave them their powers and the book. 
[00:08:42] Sarah Jack: And I think they left you wanting more there. 
[00:08:47] Josh Hutchinson: They did. The way the Mother Witch disappears all of a sudden, and Sarah comically believes she turned into the leaves that are still there. "She turned into leaves." [00:09:00] Sarah's a crack up. 
[00:09:01] Sarah Jack: Sarah's character was so great. It was just so great, her excitement, and you look at her as the most innocent, even though she's just as interested in eating children as her sisters, but she's so playful. I love the dynamic of the three personalities.
[00:09:19] Josh Hutchinson: And I liked, in the opening in both stories, you have this mob come to their house and they're supposed to be quiet, and then Sarah calls out, "we're not here." In both movies, she gives them away. So I liked how they did all these callbacks in the second one, referencing the first one. They brought so much of it back, the magic of it. And then, I love the way they introduced Book in the second. You get the backstory on where Book came from. 
[00:09:59] Sarah Jack: And I found it [00:10:00] interesting that it said "Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy."
[00:10:03] Josh Hutchinson: It was interesting that it had alchemy in there, because alchemy largely was exempted from witchcraft legislation and accusations. The alchemists believed very much that you could be a Christian and an alchemist at the same time, that they went hand in hand. 
[00:10:26] Sarah Jack: That's a really good point, Josh. 
[00:10:28] I noted that, Winifred saw it and it's like, "oh, this is apothecary, like Father," so like she felt a familiarity with what she was looking at.
[00:10:43] Josh Hutchinson: And it reveals a little bit of their parentage and their upbringing, that they grew up with their father running this apothecary shop. Wish they would've had some more about their birth parents and what happened to [00:11:00] them. 
[00:11:00] Sarah Jack: What if the story had included that they had been hanged witches also/ they purposely left it a question mark with just a little tease of the apothecary.
[00:11:15] Josh Hutchinson: Witchcraft was believed to be passed down in family lines.
[00:11:21] So you see in Salem, a lot of the accused, the finger was pointed at them because their parents or other relatives had previously been accused. Like Book, there really were magical texts. There were a lot of alchemical texts. In real Salem, Dorcas Hoar is supposed to have something of a spell book or a book in forbidden arts, such as divination. 
[00:11:58] Sarah Jack: And what if that[00:12:00] book come from Europe with her?
[00:12:04] Josh Hutchinson: It likely would've, and you get a reference in one of the Connecticut trials to one of the witches getting a book from a famous astrologer while she was in England before she came over to the colonies. 
[00:12:22] Sarah Jack: Interesting. we do know that there were astrologists accused of witchcraft in Europe. 
[00:12:28] Josh Hutchinson: There were some, definitely. They were exceptions, but we we've discussed with one of our guests, a case in Great Yarmouth, England, where an astrologer named Mark Prynn was accused of witchcraft multiple times, based on a book that he had of astrology that was recast as a book on raising spirits.[00:13:00] 
[00:13:00] Sarah Jack: I just wanted to note that the book was first used by the Sanderson Sisters for revenge.
[00:13:07] Josh Hutchinson: I like the spell that they cast first. Fire was a major concern back then. Burning the minister's house was a particularly wicked act. And the part where they bring in the bucket brigade is realistic. That was their way of fighting fires back then. 
[00:13:30] Sarah Jack: Let's talk about the cauldron. 
[00:13:32] Josh Hutchinson: The cauldron. I liked it. Doesn't come up often in the witch trial cases we've studied, but it does in a Connecticut case of Elizabeth Seager. She and others are accused of gathering around a kettle in the woods, which would've been seen as [00:14:00] a cauldron, as a place where you could mix together magical potions.
[00:14:05] And they were seen celebrating. They were really out there celebrating Christmas. They're drinking alcohol. They're partying, having a good time. But they're accused of cavorting with devils around a cauldron.
[00:14:22] What was going on with the cauldron at the beginning?
[00:14:24] Was in their house. It's in the first movie, as the central place where they make the life potion. And in the second movie, they don't get to it until much later after they returned to their house, which is now a magic shop. 
[00:14:40] Sarah Jack: So my next note on Hocus Pocus 2 is just two things. I loved how they've just talked a little bit about this, birthday tradition that happens on Halloween, and their friend is letting them down, but they still wanna, continue it, but it's not [00:15:00] the same, the begrudgement that's there. and I just loved that she said she expected the teacher to give them a quiz. Cause he is not nice. 
[00:15:09] Josh Hutchinson: She made an inference because he's a jerk, and he would of course give a pop quiz on Halloween. You already see them as mysterious figures in the beginning. She has the little blue stone that she has on her desk for luck. The three, Becca, Izzy, and Cassie, are all wearing the same necklace.
[00:15:33] Sarah Jack: Identical charms on their necklaces. And the word charm, of course, is very witchy.
[00:15:39] Josh Hutchinson: And the way Becca goes on to recite the names of vegan foods. And Mike does not understand at all, and he thinks, she says Satan at the end where she says seitan.
[00:15:52] Sarah Jack: That made me think of Salem victim Sarah. Good, because her complaining [00:16:00] and negative response to being rejected was taken as curses. 
[00:16:08] Josh Hutchinson: That's an excellent point. It's a great connection. Sarah Good was an impoverished woman. She went around begging for assistance, visited the minister's house in Salem Village, was denied assistance, went away mumbling something. She later said she was saying a psalm, but that was obviously misinterpreted, like Becca's vegan food list ,as being some kind of curse or spell upon the minister. 
[00:16:47] Sarah Jack: So Gilbert mentioned Trask e's journals and, like actual witch trials, journals have been extremely important to knowing the history. 
[00:16:59] Josh Hutchinson: We're [00:17:00] fortunate to have some journals and sermon books associated with past witch trials, including in Salem. We have the Salem Village Minister's sermon notebook, which is quite revealing into his character and what was going on in his mind. 
[00:17:22] And one of the witches says, I hope it's all good. Gilbert has to tell them that, nope, Reverend Traske did not have good things to write about them. And I like that whole grudge with the Traske family and going after the mayor and his daughter, who are descendants. And because Tony Hale portrayed the reverend and the mayor, there's obviously the family resemblance there, which the Sanderson sisters, when they first [00:18:00] see him, think that he's the reverend. And then Winnie has to explain that he must be a descendant because the reverend has to be long dead.
[00:18:11] Sarah Jack: That was really exciting. I noticed Gilbert tried to stand up f or the teenager at that point when she had been taken, and they said, "huh, that's the blood of my enemy." And I thought, "wow. that isn't far from human nature at all."
[00:18:31] Josh Hutchinson: No. And Gilbert in the store, he stands up for Becca and Izzy. He's clearly has this delusional image of what the witches will do when he brings them back. He thinks they're harmless. Of course we know better from the first movie. And even after he witnessed the cemetery scene from the first movie as a [00:19:00] child and discovered Book, he still believes that the sisters were misunderstood in their day. 
[00:19:10] Sarah Jack: He does say that, but they weren't misunderstood. And like many witches in fairy tales, stories, books, movies, people seeking to find place with them usually quickly find they become pawn a victim, and they saw him nothing more as an opportunity to get to their goal. 
[00:19:34] Josh Hutchinson: Witches, I think there's some elements that are similar to other stories, like you mentioned fairy tales, where they have a Hansel and Gretel thing going on. They're luring children to this house in the woods and then eating them or draining their souls from them. So there's a bit of Hansel and Gretel there. With the cauldron, there's [00:20:00] a bit of a Macbeth callback. I thought that was great. There's so many influences that the writers might have had coming up with the story. 
[00:20:10] Sarah Jack: They really integrated a lot, and then also Hansel-and-Gretel-wise, if you look back at Hocus Pocus one, the bullies that are caged, that's very Hansel and Gretel. 
[00:20:21] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, it is. in the second one, they have the girls thrown into this dungeon, which wasn't a part of the first movie but is an important setting in the second movie. Instead of a cage, they have this dungeon that they can trap them in and put a curse on them to lock them up in there.
[00:20:45] Sarah Jack: And Gilbert was shocked. He didn't know that was down there. 
[00:20:48] Josh Hutchinson: But Gilbert had given them angelica leaves, because he says, "you never know when you might be cursed on Halloween." And sure [00:21:00] enough, they're cursed. He tricks them into bringing back the sisters on the one hand, but gives them a way out on the other hand.
[00:21:09] So he is this complicated kind of character And his recounting of the legend, he doesn't give anything away originally about his sinister plans, which he doesn't see a sinister.
[00:21:24] Sarah Jack: He keeps you guessing because later when he's working with William Butcher, he still takes his head. He uses him and then takes his head. 
[00:21:35] Josh Hutchinson: He tricks the girls. Then he tricks Billy into assisting him. I like the scene when he digs up Billy and he thinks Billy's chasing him, and he's "oh my God, a zombie" kind of reaction and runs, and Billy's "I'm a good zombie. I'm not even chasing you."
[00:21:56] Sarah Jack: I am a huge zombie fan. So I was really [00:22:00] enjoying that. I love that character because of that, but the personality they gave him is so fun. It's so fun. 
[00:22:07] Josh Hutchinson: He's one of the best characters in the movie. There are a lot of great characters in those movies, but the way they curse him in the first movie, so he becomes this bad guy, but then eventually sides with the children and helps them, because he actually hates Winnie for killing him in the first place, poisoning him and binding his lips shut. 
[00:22:38] Sarah Jack: I had jotted down from Hocus Pocus one that he sported with Sister Sarah, and I thought that was funny. Just a funny, an interesting way to say it because in colonial journals and writings, the way they refer to those situations is usually interesting also. 
[00:22:57] Josh Hutchinson: They have some different ways of [00:23:00] saying that men and women fooled around or made out. They don't come out and say something like we would today. They have euphemisms for that. That's fun. I find it curious when we, in the second movie we learn Sarah's age and how young she is. So I'm trying to figure out in the timeline when she would've sported with Billy.
[00:23:28] Was she already a witch in the woods when she sported with him, or was this early on? 
[00:23:36] Sarah Jack: She would've been, because we saw Billy in the opener as a young Billy, but then zombie Billy seems older. 
[00:23:45] Josh Hutchinson: Oh, that's an excellent point. Zombie Billy, even in the first movie, he's gotta be, at least in its twenties.
[00:23:55] And, so yeah, that would've been a good 10 [00:24:00] years after the opening scene, something around there. And so she would've been in her twenties at the time, her early twenties. that makes a lot more sense to me. Another, one of the things that I find curious is in the second movie, it shows them going into the Forbidden Wood, but doesn't explain how they got their house in the woods. So was that magical, or did they have outside assistance? Because they had lumber that had been processed. On a historical note, there are, Inaccuracies with the house. It's not an exact old house. There's no layer of wattle and daub over the walls, so there's basically no insulation, which would've made the winters very rough. 
[00:24:59] Sarah Jack: [00:25:00] I noticed in movie two that they had the structures all very close with a very narrow path through the village. And that is how, that is historically accurate. 
[00:25:13] Josh Hutchinson: I like that portrayal. you mentioned. It's all close together, they tended to live close together for safety.
[00:25:21] There were outlying farms in Salem Village that were more spread apart, but in the heart of the city where the minister would've been, everything was close together.
[00:25:36] Sarah Jack: I wanted to talk about Gilbert and Butcherson a second, because one of the redeeming things that Gilbert does in the story, he says he wants to set Billy's story straight. And I thought it was interesting that the story, it takes Billy's voice away, because Winifred has sewn his mouth shut. The story's misconstrued and [00:26:00] misrepresented in his opinion. And then that is what happens in which hunts. But that there was this element at the end where Gilbert's, "I'm gonna make sure everybody knows the truth, Billy." so I thought that was a fun little thing to slide into the story.
[00:26:18] Josh Hutchinson: It was a good part of Gilbert's redemption in the end. He does that for Billy, which is a good thing. He reunites the body and the head. and then he makes his peace with the girls, or I should say they make peace with him first, saying that they'll see him at the shop, and then he offers them a discount.
[00:26:41] So everybody's back to where they were before all of this Halloween night happened. 
[00:26:48] Sarah Jack: Full circle.
[00:26:50] Josh Hutchinson: And you have a lot of redemption at the end. I liked the ending of number two. Probably, I [00:27:00] liked it better than the first one at the end. Winnie, she makes the power spell, gets ultimate witchcraft powers, but both of her sisters go away. And then, suddenly all she wants is to be reunited with them, and she is, and she's very happy and expresses that happiness.
[00:27:23] Sarah Jack: That was all so enjoyable. you could almost say beautiful. Mary's fading away. "Don't forget me" or "remember me", she says, which is something we want, witch trial victims to be remembered, any historical people that are important to different researchers or communities, you want them to be remembered. And, I loved that Winifred said, " my folly, my fate. My doing, my undoing."
[00:27:55] Josh Hutchinson: Yes. Those were excellent lines. I like the whole [00:28:00] climax, the battle in the forbidden wood near the altar. It was interesting to see Becca gain witchcraft powers. There is one minor historical point I wanna make. Gilbert, early on when he's giving them the candle and tricking them, he says, "legend has it that a witch gains her powers at age 16," which I don't know where that came from. I think it's just an original story element, because in the real Salem Witch Trials, they arrested a four year old girl and several adolescents, young girls and boys, nine, 10 years old. They're arresting these kids for being made witches by their parents. So the whole 16 thing doesn't make sense, but it's a good part of the [00:29:00] story. 
[00:29:00] Sarah Jack: That's an excellent point, Josh. I loved that, which, who referred to them as the Gothic Golden Girls? I just thought that was a sweet little nod, even though there were four. 
[00:29:12] Josh Hutchinson: I thought it was interesting because in one scene you have Becca talking about how there was this fear in the past of women aging, which could have been part of real witch childs because a lot of women who were past childbearing age were accused, though in Salem, they were younger than you think. 
[00:29:38] Sarah Jack: It struck me that she said patriarchal. 
[00:29:42] Josh Hutchinson: It was a patriarchal society.
[00:29:44] Sarah Jack: It was the men's fear of the women aging.
[00:29:48] Josh Hutchinson: Right. That suddenly the women, they can't bring about children anymore, so what's their value to society? And their fear that the women who lose [00:30:00] this value would lash out by becoming witches. And that ties back to the Sanderson sisters trying to become young again. They do become younger in the first movie, but then they're trying to maintain their youth and beauty, which would've been associated with that whole aging process. 
[00:30:22] Sarah Jack: And that was part of the trickery, along with lying about their age, saying they were not teenagers. 
[00:30:31] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. Becca and Izzy say that they're 40 years old. And then I find there's a funny line when they go to Walgreens, and one of the sisters calls them 40 year old teenagers.
[00:30:45] Sarah Jack: Yeah. Walgreens is like its own character in this film, so whoever worked on making that happen was really good at their job. 
[00:30:55] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. That was inspired, and the connection [00:31:00] between their father had an apothecary shop and now they're in this giant Walgreens with these brilliant lights and such variety of merchandise, and the whole thing where they're drinking the lotions and creams and eating the child's face. 
[00:31:21] Sarah Jack: It's funny, I've only watched Hocus Pocus a few times, actually.
[00:31:26] And so when I watched it this year, I still have that element of discomfort with some of the story, especially the whole children piece. And I think it was very bold to do that then. I think it was still bold to have that be such an element. I don't know what else they would've done, because it is such a pillar of the story. Having children valued as an ingredient like that [00:32:00] in a real way was uncomfortable for me. But the way the story is written and told, it pulls you into where it's not talking about our children. You get separated from it. The story does separate you from it. And I think Hocus Pocus does this in different ways for different people. Some people cannot accept that there's a story about accused, hanged witches that is so fictional and such a fantasy. So I think there are different ways that you have to decide that you're gonna accept who the story says the characters are and what they say is happening. 
[00:32:44] Josh Hutchinson: There are two things I wanna address from what you just said. The story gets very dark, especially in the first one. The children lock the witches in the furnace and [00:33:00] burn them, and then they run off the children and are rejoicing in this park, dancing happily, where really I would expect them to be deeply traumatized and scarred for life.
[00:33:15] But it makes it like this playful action that they burn these witches alive, which gets back to the whole hanging versus burning thing. In the first one, and then they repeat the scene in the second, you see them hanged, which is accurate to New England and England witch trials. They hanged the victims rather than burning them at the stake, so you've got good historical value there. But then there's a scene later where there's the firemen, and the sisters are hiding from the firemen, and one of the firemen has an [00:34:00] ax, and Winnie says something to the effect of, "he's going to use that ax to chop up the wood to burn us." So there's a few idiosyncrasies as far as following history.
[00:34:14] There's a rumor I wanna address I've seen pop up in a lot of articles and questions from other people. There's a rumor that the Sanderson sisters were based on a group of real sisters from the Salem Witch Trials, the Towne sisters. The only commonality is that there's three sisters and that two of them do, perhaps by chance, maybe intentionally, share their names with two of the real Towne sisters. The real Towne sisters were Rebecca Towne Nurse, Mary Towne Esty, and Sarah Towne Cloyce, and so you do have a Mary and a Sarah. [00:35:00] And then I find it interesting in the second movie they bring in a character named Becca, and you had Rebecca, plus you have Winifred, and there happened to be two accused of witchcraft in Connecticut, Winifred Benham, Senior and Junior, who you're related to. So the naming of the witches is curious, but the rest, there's no similarities.
[00:35:32] Sarah Jack: It is obviously on a personal note, interesting to hear, the names. The witch names are essential to my own ancestry. Sarah Cloyce my aunt, Mary Esty my grandmother, Winfred and her daughter. They're the reason that I have become an advocate for the Connecticut accused Witches. These names are very meaningful to me, [00:36:00] and I think that also is why I can't help but love the story, but also look for all the historical representations and misrepresentations, and it's really such a interesting thing for me to think about and talk about.
[00:36:15] And not every descendant can enjoy something that has the pop culture lens of witchcraft weaved through it, but I do enjoy that part, because the broad scope of what a witch is today is everything humanity has made it to be. So I am able to look at the Sanderson sisters, what Disney has done with the witch, and find lots of reasons to enjoy and reflect on it.
[00:36:53] Josh Hutchinson: Now, if they had called them the Towne sisters, then I [00:37:00] might not have enjoyed the movies, because it's so inaccurate if you view it through that lens of being based on real witches, but I think that they weren't. I think that even the names could be coincidental, because they were common names from the period. If you are looking up common names involved in witch trials, Sarah comes up a heck of a lot, and Mary's pretty common. Winifred was a real name back then and is now.
[00:37:33] Sarah Jack: One of the things that I wanted to talk to you about was Old Salem Crypt and Old Burial Hill. Those aren't actual places in Salem? 
[00:37:45] Josh Hutchinson: No, there's a cemetery that was the old burial point. I believe they filmed the daytime scenes in nearby Marblehead at a real cemetery [00:38:00] there, but it wasn't a real thing in Salem. And that crypt, there are rumors that there's a whole tunnel system that included catacombs underneath Salem, but those are fiction. That's just another one of these curious legends. They've never been rediscovered, if they were there, which they most likely were not ever there. So the crypt thing is definitely just a imagination thing. It's something that the creators of the story just made up, and it's a good element in the story. It's a major element, but not based on reality. 
[00:38:51] Sarah Jack: And the reality of, the burials in Salem is that the historical societies are working really [00:39:00] hard to protect and preserve what's there.
[00:39:04] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, I found, it did bother me somewhat that Max in the first movie is carelessly riding his bike through this ancient cemetery, and the two punks are hiding out there, and they have this whole scene in this ancient cemetery. I want to suggest that you don't try that at home. The ancient tombstones that are 300 plus years old are very brittle and fragile. There are a lot of them broken in the real old burying point in Salem. There's been a lot of damage to them over the years. A lot of them are so worn you can't read what was etched into them. Others are just broken up into pieces, and as Sarah said, there are preservation [00:40:00] groups out there that do work to restore and preserve these wonderful treasures that we're lucky to still have, such old history intact at all.
[00:40:16] One of my visits to the old burial point in Salem, which is now Charter Street Cemetery. I went there, it was October. There was a Halloween carnival adjacent to the cemetery, and people were carelessly going from the carnival into the cemetery, treating it as this just touristy place. They're eating funnel cake. They're walking over the graves of our ancestors. Literally, I have ancestors buried there, including the first Hutchinson that came to the colonies in my line is buried there, and there's people just trampling on the graves, [00:41:00] going right up and touching the tombstones.
[00:41:02] Don't touch the tombstones. Don't try and do a chalk version of them holding up a piece of tracing paper and tracing the inscription with chalk. That can be very destructive. 
[00:41:17] Sarah Jack: Thank you Josh. I think that it's very important to give these reminders. it's a wonderful place to go and there's lots of things that need to be protected and the burials need to be protected and it takes every person. And although the cemeteries are aging, when we protect them, that history's gonna be there for longer. And it's the respectful thing to do. 
[00:41:51] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, it's a way to respect the dead. Don't be disrespectful. Like you wouldn't go up to your own [00:42:00] family's graves and be so disrespectful to them. You go up, you approach humbly in a peaceful, gentle, respectful way, and do stay on the established paths. There are paths that you're able to go on safely without harming.
[00:42:23] And I do love that the Charter Street Cemetery is restricting access during the month of October when Salem is overwhelmed with Halloween crowds. They're now limiting the number of people who can be in the cemetery at a time. They're watchful that people stay on the paths, and I think that's an excellent thing for them to do. It's unfortunate that they have to take those steps, but it's the right thing to do.
[00:42:56] Going back to the historical. [00:43:00] Elements and connections involved in these movies. Sarah Jessica Parker was a guest on a genealogy show many years ago, I believe it was that, Who Do You Think You Are? show by Ancestry, and she discovered that she is related to someone who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch-Hunt, Esther Dutch Elwell of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there are only three records, and they're very brief, that have to do with her role in the witch trials. She was rounded up with two other women, Abigail Roe and Rebecca Dike, and they were accused of afflicting a woman named Mary Fitch. And that's basically all that we know. We have the arrest warrant for all three of the women [00:44:00] together. And then two little, one or two sentence testimonies regarding this supposed afflicting. 
[00:44:10] And as we've mentioned, we're descendants of people accused of witchcraft. I'm a descendant of Mary Towne Esty. Sarah's a descendant of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty. So I feel we understand the perspective of finding out that you're a descendant of these people and the power that has and how that brought us into the projects that we're working on, got me interested in the Salem Witch Trials, finding out I had these connections, and those connections are responsible for the show.
[00:44:51] Rebecca Nurse, Mary Esty, Sarah Cloyce, among other details, their ages are quite [00:45:00] different than the ages of the Sanderson sisters. So I just wanted to bring that up as far as this theory of how they're based on our ancestors, where I think that maybe the idea of three sisters came from the Towne sisters. It's possible, but every other detail is very different. So by and large, I would not say they're based upon any real life people. 
[00:45:31] Sarah Jack: Yeah, I agree. I was just thinking about how Hocus Pocus came out in 1993. The tri centennial for the witch trials was 92, so this would've all been written in production prior to even these memorial events and the chatter and the printing that would've been happening about Salem history there in the mid nineties or early nineties. 
[00:45:58] Josh Hutchinson: That's a good point. It does [00:46:00] correspond to the 300th anniversary of the original witch trials when the memorial in Salem was dedicated, for the victims who were executed or pressed to death in one case.
[00:46:16] It's interesting that they start out in 1693 rather than 92. There were no executions in 93. The second court had taken over for the first one, and they mostly cleared everyone right off the bat.
[00:46:35] So the final trials were held in 93. but I don't believe many accusations were made in 93 in real life. So it's another good part of the story. It's something that is plausible that could have happened had things gone a little bit differently in history, but I like that they,[00:47:00] in a sense, separate the Sanderson sister execution from the actual witch trials, it's own separate thing. It works differently. They have it stand apart and, for me, I separate the story, the entertainment part of it, from the actual history. I just divide those into two channels. And, again, I found the story to be quite entertaining. I liked how it went.
[00:47:35] Sarah Jack: As I said, I really enjoy stories and fiction and portrayals of witches in different art forms. I like the opportunity to see how our culture and perception of witches and women and history, how does it come out [00:48:00] when these creative professionals develop these highly successful movies and books? It's also a sociological study to look at these movies, and I love that. 
[00:48:19] Josh Hutchinson: And the evolution between the first and the second, over the last 29 years of what really has developed in the way of people practicing these peaceful religions related to witchcraft, which are separate from the witchcraft that was believed in the 17th century.
[00:48:47] These are new, they're more wholesome, peaceful, nature-based celebrations, rather than the image of the witch 300 years ago. It's a very different thing, [00:49:00] and I thought they portrayed that dichotomy quite well in the second film. You have, on the one hand, the 17th century Sanderson sisters who are pretty accurate to what people believed witches were at the time versus what witches are today, which is an entirely different thing. And the way they had the bad witches versus today's good witches, I thought was a good sign of our progress and tolerance of each other's beliefs. 
[00:49:37] There is one thing I saw on Twitter that I found interesting. One person made the point that in the Hocus Pocus movies, they may portray the witch trials as having been the right thing to do, because in the films there really were evil witches, where in [00:50:00] real life there were not. The people they accused of witchcraft did not practice witchcraft. They may have had some interactions with the acquit, but most likely they did not consider themselves to be witches. They were all innocent victims, regardless of what they had actually done. They did not do what they were accused of. They did not make a covenant with Satan. They did not afflict children and harm people.
[00:50:32] Sarah Jack: It needs to be stated clearly that isn't the solution. Even though this is a fictional world, in our world, there are church leaders in some places going after individuals as witches to cause them harm and to stop evil and problems that are happening, and there was something on [00:51:00] social media from Leo Igwe. There were billboards up on a church that's was going to be doing, witch removal. Removing witches is not anything that you would want to promote as the solution to a perceived problem.
[00:51:20] Josh Hutchinson: First of all, the people that they accuse are innocent, so we still have that dynamic, that witch hunting behavior, where you want to pin problems on somebody. You have a scapegoat, you introduce, which are innocent people. They do have somewhat organized witch hunts still going on in many countries in the world. You also have lynchings. You have violence, torture, killing. Leo posted the other day, images of two bodies. They were covered in blankets, but two men who were [00:52:00] allegedly murdered for supposedly practicing witchcraft.
[00:52:05] And this happened two or three days ago. So it's still a very real problem. We see it a lot in several countries on multiple continents still happening.
[00:52:18] Sarah Jack: And that's why we are being sure to talk about this. 
[00:52:24] Josh Hutchinson: We just want to separate the fiction from the reality. 
[00:52:29] Sarah Jack: At the chance that a fictional witch hanging could be interpreted as a solution. In reality, we wanna say no, that is not okay. 
[00:52:46] Josh Hutchinson: And I believe the person who posted that on Twitter. Was joking, but it was a good point that you could possibly interpret it that way, [00:53:00] that the witches were real in the movie, and so it was a good thing to hunt them and hang them and burn them in a furnace and then make them vaporize at the end. In terms of a fictional story, those were good plot elements. It made the story entertaining, but in terms of reality, just no. 
[00:53:26] So that was one thing I wanted to address, and we've talked about a lot of the differences between reality and fiction and how most people, by and large, almost everybody is good at separating fiction from reality, and I think that people view this movie for what it is. It's just pure entertainment, and it works that way. It's funny, it's[00:54:00] entertaining. It does its job. 
[00:54:04] Sarah Jack: I did a little social media poll in the Facebook group, and 85% of the people who participated in the poll were looking forward to enjoying it for entertainment purposes. That leaves a good number of people who are not able to, and maybe they just don't like the film. Maybe it is too personal, and those are legitimate feelings and it's part of what comes with witch trial facts and history, where the different comfort lines on artistic expression and the historical figures that suffered. I think it'll continue to be something that is seeking a balance and that balance is different for everybody. 
[00:54:55] Josh Hutchinson: I don't wanna sound like a stick in the mud because truly [00:55:00] I love these movies. I've seen the original Hocus Pocus, it comes on every year, so I've basically seen it numerous times. I watched it two times this weekend. I watched the new one three times this weekend, and I enjoyed them very much. It was fun times. 
[00:55:23] Sarah Jack: One of the ways that I got to enjoy the second one was during a thunderstorm. I loved that. I heard thunder while the Sanderson systems ran into the wood. 
[00:55:34] Josh Hutchinson: That's like magical in itself, which I think really heightens the enjoyment and the experience and brings out the feelings more to have those two things coincide. 
[00:55:51] Sarah Jack: And I know, watching social media, people preparing for Hocus focus to watch parties, all the creative snacks and [00:56:00] the extra decorations. So I think a lot of people had four dimensional enjoyment. 
[00:56:08] Josh Hutchinson: I know there's a lot of cosplay. It is a cult classic, actually beyond cult. It's just a classic, much beloved, the original. And so I know for a lot of these watch parties, people got into the spirit by getting into costume. I know there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people in Sanderson costumes in Salem as we speak. I know they're descending en masse because of the second movie. it's a fun time. They're fun movies. Go out and hopefully you've seen them by now that you've heard us spoil everything, but enjoy the movies. Get into the spirit. Get into the costumes. Go around saying, "sisters!" It's a blast.
[00:56:59] Sarah Jack: And [00:57:00] so much gratitude must be extended to Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker for their brilliant portrayal of the Sanderson sisters, bringing them back to us, and kicking off this 2022 Halloween with a lot of fun and excitement. 
[00:57:20] Josh Hutchinson: So all involved in making these movies, you've done a wonderful service to everyone, purely for entertainment and fun. And one thing that it's hard to believe that Bette Midler is 77 years old. She acted just the same as she did 29 years ago in the first one. She had such a high level of energy and enthusiasm as the character. 
[00:57:51] Sarah Jack: They were back. The witches were back.
[00:57:54] Josh Hutchinson: They were their exact same selves from 29 years ago. It's amazing how [00:58:00] Hollywood celebrities never age We all wish we could be celebrities, partly because we wanna hold onto that youth, but it was just a fantastic production. 
[00:58:12] I totally agree.
[00:58:14] Gary Marshall and Penny Marshall have passed away in recent years. I thought it was so wonderful that they made an homage to them that they represented them by having the two characters standing in line behind the mayor are dressed as Master and his wife, and then the witches fly past that window, and they see people watching Master and his wife on tv, which was so meta.
[00:58:46] And I just thought that was a brilliant way to pay respect to two brilliant Hollywood legends who have sadly passed away and couldn't be themselves in the second movie.[00:59:00] It was touching. It was wonderful. 
[00:59:04] Sarah Jack: I just wish we could have seen the witches dance with the devil.
[00:59:08] Josh Hutchinson: Aw, that would've been so wonderful if that could have happened again.
[00:59:13] Thank you all for listening to this very special episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:59:20] Sarah Jack: Because you enjoyed this episode, please like, subscribe, or follow. 
[00:59:25] Josh Hutchinson: And listen to episode one coming up Thursday, October 6th. 
[00:59:30] Sarah Jack: Visit our website, 
[00:59:34] Josh Hutchinson: And please share our podcasts with your friends and family and on social media. 
[00:59:41] Sarah Jack: Join our Discord for discussion with us. 
[00:59:43] Josh Hutchinson: Goodbye. 
[00:59:45] Sarah Jack: Goodbye. 
[00:59:47] [01:00:00] 
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