The film stars Bette Midler as Winifred, Kathy Najimy as Mary and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah. It was the first feature film to be directed by Kenny Ortega who later went on to direct the first two movies in the High School Musical franchise.
Hocus Pocus was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some potentially scary sequences and some bad language.
The film opens in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1693. The three Sanderson sisters absorb the life force of a young girl, Emily Binx, in attempt to gain eternal life and youth, killing the girl in the process. Her brother, Thackery Binx, tries to stop them but is instead transformed into a black cat.
Later that same night, the Sanderson sisters are lynched by the townspeople who accuse them of witchcraft. Before she dies, Winnifred Sanderson says that she and her sisters will return to life if a virgin lights their black flame candle on Halloween night when the moon is full.
The action then cuts to Halloween in Salem three hundred years later. Teenager Max Dennison, accompanied by his younger sister Dani and his love-interest Allison, goes inside the Sanderson sisters' old house, which has been made into a museum. He is told the legend of the black flame candle but does not believe it and lights it anyway. The three witches are then revived. Through the use of a cigarette lighter, Max is temporarily able to fool them into thinking that he is a wizard, giving the children enough time to make their escape.
Winnifred Sanderson tells her sisters that they will only live for one night and will die at dawn unless they can absorb the life force from more children. Setting out in search of children the witches are confused that they can smell them but can only see monsters, not realsising at first that they are costumed trick-or-treaters. However, they quickly adapt to their new surroundings.
It is up to the three children accompanied by Thackery Binx, still alive in the form of a black cat three hundred years later, to defeat the three witches before the night is over.