Hocus Pocus is one of the most beloved Halloween traditions for many people, especially those who avoid gorier horror films. Well, it turns out the family-friendly scare-fest was initially meant to be much darker and scarier.
According to EW, screenwriter Mick Garris (who is also known for writing and directing Stephen King adaptations like Sleepwalkers, Riding the Bullet, and The Shining TV miniseries) originally titled the film Halloween House when he wrote the first draft of the script in the 1980s. “David Kirschner, who [was one of the writers of] An American Tail for Steven Spielberg, had this great idea about children in Salem, Massachusetts, coming up against the three Sanderson sisters, who were resurrected from the Salem of 1692, and he’d sold it to Disney.”
The two scribes pitched the film to Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. While Spielberg was (briefly) interested, competition between Disney and Amblin for the family-friendly market was too intense, so Spielberg backed away.
“What I had written originally was about 12-year-olds,” Garris says. “The kids being younger and in more jeopardy was certainly something more explicitly frightening.” By the time the film made it to screens in 1993, it was, as Garris described it, "broadly comedic." Of note: The scene with Garry and Penny Marshall wasn't in the first draft, but the scene where Billy Butcherson loses his head was.
Would you have prefered a darker take on Hocus Pocus, or the comedy we all know and love?