'Hocus Pocus' Was Originally to Star 12-Year-Olds and Be Scarier

In the decades since its release, Hocus Pocus has become a beloved Halloween film that audiences return to every year. Due to talks about a potential remake or sequel, the most devout fans are proclaiming their love for the witchy film, but writer Mick Garris revealed to ComicBook.com earlier this year that his original vision featured much younger characters than the final product, which was originally titled "Halloween House."

"I wrote that eight years before they produced it, Garris confessed. "The idea was the producer David Kirschner, who had created An American Tail for [Steven] Spielberg, the animated mouse movie, he had first attained success doing this cartoon show that was also a marketing thing called 'Strawberry Shortcake,' for little girls. That's where he started his career. Then, he had this idea for Hocus Pocus, which at that time was called 'Halloween House.'"

Set on Halloween night, the film focused on three witches accidentally being revived to wreak havoc in Salem, MA. From the beginning, the filmmakers were firmly rooted in the traditions of the holiday.

"I remember pitching it to Spielberg and David had laid out the conference room with all the accoutrement of Halloween," Garris shared. "The gourd of plenty, jack-o'-lanterns, candy corn and all that stuff to set the mood before Steven came into the room. It was great, but it was also aligned with Disney at the time."

Throughout the development process, Garris was one of many writers who contributed their efforts to the project.

"I wrote the script and came up with a lot of the ideas and the like, way back in the mid-'80s with David," Garris confessed. "I was the first one who wrote the full screenplay. I did two of three drafts of that and then moved on to other projects. There were 11 other writers on it before the movie got made."

The casting of the movie's biggest star ended up being the key component to get the film made.

"Then when they got Bette Midler interested in it, that changed everything," Garris shared. "Suddenly, it was on the fast track. Eight years struggling, and then on the fast track. Went right into it. My original version, the kids were 12 years old, when I think Halloween is a more potent and important time in somebody's development. The Disney thing was to make them 16."

While Disney's involvement resulted in toning down the film's scarier elements, the filmmaker is ultimately happy with the end result.


"Ultimately, even though the movie was a modest success when it came out, it's become this Halloween icon that every year you see all over Disney channel and ABC," the writer expressed.

Stay tuned for details on whether a new adaptation can be conjured up.