Blog by Brittany from Destination Salem
It might be difficult to believe that Hocus Pocus, the famed cult classic starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy debuted 23 years ago, on July 16, 1993. You are probably familiar with the film’s story, which focuses on the Sanderson Sisters, who are executed as witches after casting a spell on young Thackery Binx, dooming him to roam the streets of Salem as an immortal black cat. 300 years later, a teenager named Max finds himself in the home of the Sanderson Sisters, where his lighting of the infamous black flame candle brings the trio back to life on Halloween night. Max, along with his sister Dani, and crush Allison, and Binx the cat of course, must then work together to put an end to the Sanderson Sisters once and for all.
310 West Ave | PioneerVillageSalem.org
The opening scenes of the film, featuring Binx as a human prior to his cursing as a cat, were filmed in Pioneer Village, a living history museum located at Salem’s Forest River Park. Pioneer Village was built in 1930, and is America’s first living history museum. Tours of the village are offered seasonally through September, and today the park is home to different events and festivals throughout the year.
Phillips Elementary School on Salem Common
The Phillips Elementary School building conveniently ended its run as a functioning school in 1992, making it the perfect location for a movie filming in Salem that required some exterior high school footage. While the building is not open to the public today the exterior can still be viewed from the Common.
The Ropes Mansion
318 Essex Street | PEM.org
One of the most memorable scenes in the film was when Max attends the Halloween party at Allison’s house, the exterior of which was actually filmed using one of the most prominent 18th century homes in Salem. The gardens located behind the mansion are free to visit and open to the public.
Old Town Hall
161 Essex Street | Salem.com
The other classic party scene in the film was actually filmed just a few blocks away at Old Town Hall in Derby Square. Famous in the film for Bette Midler’s rendition of “Put a Spell on You,” the building today is open to the public, and hosts the Salem Museum and performances of “Cry Innocent.”
Many of the outdoor scenes in the movie were filmed at Salem Common, where ironically enough the film is shown each year during Haunted Happenings. This year’s showing of Hocus Pocus on the Common will take place at 6 pm on October 29.
8 Ocean Avenue
This house on the end of Ocean Avenue was home to Max and his sister Dani in the film. While Hocus Pocus fans are welcome to view the exterior of the home from the street, please be advised that this site is private property.
Old Burial Hill
Orne Street, Marblehead, MA | OldBurialHill.org
The day-time cemetery scenes showing Max interacting with his new, not-so-welcoming classmates actually were not filmed in Salem at all. This footage was shot in nearby Marblehead at Old Burial Hill, one of the oldest graveyards in New England.
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
285 Derby Street | NightmareGallery.com
While this museum was not featured in the filming for Hocus Pocus, it is home to an impressive figure of Winifred Sanderson, portrayed in the film by Bette Midler. Count Orlok’s is located at 285 Derby Street and is open as a museum and haunted house throughout October.
Do have a good time visiting some of the locations from this classic film, but please don’t“run amok!”