Disney comedy, released in 1993. It was directed by Kenny Ortega, with a screenplay by Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert, based on a story by Garris and David Kirschner. The stars included Bette Midler as Winnie Sanderson, Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson, Omri Katz as Max Dennison, Thora Birch as Dani Dennison, and Jason Marsden as the voice of Binx the cat. Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall had cameo appearances.

The movie focuses on the Sanderson sisters, who were evil, child-eating witches in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. Early in the movie, they suck the soul out of a little girl and transform her brother into a black cat, then they're hanged for their many crimes. However, they're able to come back from the grave one Halloween night in the 1990s. They hatch a plan to give themselves eternal life by stealing the lifeforces of all the children in modern Salem. The only people opposing them are the kids in the Dennison family and the black cat, still alive after over 300 years.

This is a really awful movie. You may find yourself tempted to rent it for your kids if you want a family-friendly, semi-ghoulish movie for Halloween viewing. Resist that temptation. Please don't force your children to watch something this lousy.

Here's the stuff that works well: Sarah Jessica Parker has a number of good moments as the youngest, sexiest, and possibly the dimmest of the witches. The scene where the witches steal the little girl's soul is plenty creepy and unsettling, and for a brief moment, you start to think that maybe Disney made a real, live horror movie (Pseudo_Intellectual reminds me that Disney has made a grade-A horror film: 1983's "Something Wicked This Way Comes"). Also, the scene where the kids try to convince a police officer that the Sanderson sisters have come back to life has a humorous twist to it, and the Marshalls' cameos are pretty funny. The movie also does a pretty good job of recreating the spooky-but-silly mood I seem to associate with the Halloweens of my childhood.

Aside from that, there's nothing to recommend it. Midler and Najimy are both monumentally irritating, and all three of the witches seem to play their parts by shrieking. Katz is wholesome and earnest in ways that only a Disney character can be wholesome and earnest. The special effects are rarely convincing; the worst are probably all the cat's effects and the zombie that the witches raise to chase the children. Marsden plays Binx as urgently, wholesomely, and earnestly British, which, frankly, makes me want to rewind the scene where the cat gets flattened by a truck over and over and over. There's also a scene where the witches sing "I've Put a Spell on You", which also irritates on a number of levels. Why would witches who can't figure out anything about 1990s America know a song written in the 20th century? Do Bette Midler's fans want to hear her sing badly enough to inflate the anemic box office on a kids movie?

In the end, there's just too much overacting, too many convenient plot holes and logic leaps, too many lame effects, sketchy characterizations, bad hair, and Disneyfied niceness. Don't watch it. Don't make your kids watch it. They may not forgive you.

Some research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)