It’s been 25 years since the Sanderson Sisters were first brought back to life in Hocus Pocus — and the film’s cast, including the youngsters who made up its heart, reunited Tuesday night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a special anniversary bash. Once you find the book, brew the potion, and suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise, click through to see what the kiddies look like all grown-up.
Dani (Thora Birch)
Before playing disaffected teens in American Beauty and Ghost World, Thora Birch charmed audiences as young Dani — the kid sister Max (Omri Katz) has to take trick-or-treating and eventually rescue from the witchy Sanderson sisters. Director Kenny Ortega told EW it made him smile to see families attend the bash dressed with their kids in costume as Dani and Max.
The anniversary marked a rare chance for Ortega to catch up with his young cast. “Thora Birch and her fiancée, we had dinner,” he tells EW. “They were telling me I remember everything and they were telling stories with each other.”
Jay and Ernie "Ice"
Max’s haunted Halloween kicked off with some torture from the town bullies Jay (Tobias Jelenik) and Ernie “Ice” (Larry Bagby).
Larry Bagby and Tobias Jelinek both got a big career boost from Hocus Pocus — in fact, it was Jelinek’s film debut. The two are still acting regularly, frequently making guest star appearances on television series including 9-1-1, Stranger Things, and Arrow.
Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones)
First summoned from hell to chase after Max and friends, Billy is Winnie Sanderson’s ex whom she killed in a jealous rage after catching him with her sister. Billy gave Ortega some of his most tangible, lasting memories. “When Billy was trying to climb out of the manhole, and the car ran over it, and his finger got cut off, I made it into a necklace. I’ve got his finger,” Ortega tells EW of mementos he kept from filming. “I also have I have the first maquette of his head that was sculpted as we were designing it.”
Doug Jones, a.k.a. Master of the Creatures
Hocus Pocus was only Jones’ sixth screen credit, but he’s since gone on to create many beloved creatures and monsters onscreen, including the Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the fish creature in the director’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water. “He flew in from Toronto twice,” says Ortega of Jones’ participation in the bash. “He flew in and went in complete Billy drag for the first time in 25 years and did a whole bunch of bumpers for us…He flew back again to be there with us [Tuesday] night. The audience just ate him up. When he walked on the stage, there was a roar — it was so beautiful.”
Max (Omri Katz)
As Max, the virgin who brings the Sanderson sisters back to life, Omri Katz gave the film its beating heart. Last year, Ortega told EW about Leonardo DiCaprio’s audition for the film, but noted, “When Omri Katz came around, I fell in love again and he was our Max.”
Katz has since relocated to Israel, but he remains an essential part of what makes the film a beloved Halloween classic. “It’s a fun movie that just takes you away and there’s just magic there,” Ortega says of the film’s enduring appeal. “We had a good time making it, and I feel that energy of what was present when we were making it is evident in the movie. You can see everyone’s having a good time. It’s there. It lives underneath the dialogue and underneath the music.”
Allison (Vinessa Shaw)
As Allison, Max’s “dream girl,” Vinessa Shaw was an indelible part of the Hocus Pocus magic. A magic so indelible many have tattooed it on their body — something Ortega says he witnessed for the first time on Tuesday. “Last night was the first time that I saw the tattoos,” he says. “I was so drunken with the love that I just went walking through the crowd. They were hugging and high fiving and they were rolling up their sleeves and their pant legs and they had Billy and Winifred and Binx, and they tattooed their bodies with the characters.”
Vinessa Shaw and Amanda Shepherd
Shaw was joined by Amanda Shepherd, who portrayed the ghost of young Emily, a child murdered by the Sanderson sisters in the days of the Salem witch trials. The now-grown-up child actors had fun boogie’ing to the range of witchy tunes during the concert segment of the evening.
Kenny Ortega welcomed fans (“They had to turn people away,” he says of the turnout) for an evening of magical performances, including appearances by Jordan Fisher and Vanessa Hudgens. “Jordan Fisher is just an extraordinarily talented young man,” Ortega tells EW. “He did [Frank] Sinatra’s ‘Witchcraft’ and brought the house down.” Indeed, it was such a hit, no one wanted to leave. “They had to push people out of the cemetery,” says Ortega.
Kathy Najimi (a.k.a. Mary Sanderson)
As part of the iconic trio of the Sanderson sisters (she played the vacuum-riding Mary) and a close friend of Ortega’s, the evening wasn’t complete without an appearance from Kathy Najimi. Hocus Pocus was an initial box office disappointment, but has gone from cult classic to Halloween staple over the years (much like It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas) — something Ortega says he felt keenly. “Kathy Najimi said it so beautifully — about how you get together with a group of people that you enjoy, and you just put in the effort. You show up every day. You don’t know. You put it out there and will it evaporate? Or will it land and will it be treasured?,” he reflects. “For a moment in time, I was heartbroken and disappointed. There was so much imagination that went into this and so much good fun. Could I have been so wrong? It just took some time, as things do. To ripen.”
I Put a Spell On You
As part of the live performances, Sofia Carson and Dove Cameron (from Ortega’s Descendants films for Disney Channel) were joined by Jordin Sparks to sing the film’s iconic showstopping number “I Put a Spell on You” with a cast of costumed dancers. Also, performing in the special are Emily Estefan singing “Black Magic Woman,” boy band PrettyMuch, and Junior New System.
Sharon and Kelly Osbourne are judging you...
Mother and daughter team Sharon and Kelly Osbourne joined the proceedings as judges for the night’s costume contest. To see the costumes and judge for yourself, tune in to the special on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 8:15 p.m. as part of Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” programming event. The film will also air on Freeform throughout the month of October and in an all-day marathon on Halloween.
It's just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!
Fans compete in a costume contest, one of the many highlights of an evening Ortega executive produced. He describes the event as “wish fulfillment” for his hopes for the film when he was directing it 25 years ago. “We had a huge costume party and it was just an absolutely incredible anniversary celebration,” Ortega says. “We’re talking about maybe doing it every year now — a Hocus Pocus Halloween party every year. It was a grand success.”