From Connecticut to California, creepy clowns are a national problem. It all started in August in Greenville, South Carolina where, according to Vocativ, the local police received reports of a group of people dressed up as clowns attempting to lure kids into the woods. (One rogue clown in the same area reportedly waved at a woman from the street; she waved back.)
Since then, creepy clowns have been a trending topic both in the news and on social media, with 23 states now reporting some type of unusual clown activity. While it sounds like a story pulled from your own personal nightmares, the trend is even more frightening to members of the World Clown Association, a worldwide organization for professional clowns, who are disturbed by the fact that these hellraisers are being referred to as “clowns” at all.
WCA president Randy Christensen took to social media to address the growing creepy clown concern with a three-minute video, aimed at his fellow clowns, in which he made it clear that, “Whoever is doing this crazy stuff is not a clown. This is somebody that’s trying to use a good, clean, wholesome art form and then distorting it. This is not clowning, this person is not a clown."
Christensen urged his red rose-wearing brethren to, “Go out and provide a positive image of clowning. Show them what it is really all about. Gain their confidence, make them enjoy it, make them laugh and they will come to realize that all clowns are not a scary-type character.” Try telling that to a coulrophobe.
In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Bette Midler said she'd be interested in doing a Hocus Pocussequel. "You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company," she said. "The ball's in their court." While you get those cards ready, here are some facts about the original, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago today.
1. THE STORY ORIGINATED AS A BEDTIME STORY.
The story for Hocus Pocus came about after writer David Kirschner invented a bedtime story for his kids. He later wrote the story up and submitted it to Muppet Magazine (why does this not still exist?), where it gained recognition.
2. THE WRITERS USED PROPS TO PITCH IT TO STUDIO EXECUTIVES.
Walt Disney Pictures
To pitch the story to Disney, the writers had execs enter a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia. It obviously worked!
3. IT WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT.
Though it’s a cult classic now, Hocus Pocus didn’t do that well when it first came out in 1993, perhaps because it was released in July instead of September or October. Though it didn’t have a terrible opening—$8,125,471, putting it in fourth place at the box office that weekend—it fell to $2,017,688 a few weeks later, and bad reviews from the critics didn’t help matters.
Entertainment Weekly was particularly put off by the movie, calling it a “piece of corny slapstick trash” and saying that “It’s acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell.”
4. BETTE MIDLER LOVES IT.
Bette Midler, by the way, has said that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film out of all of the films she’s ever done. (At least as of 2008.) Thora Birch agreed, recently saying, “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”
5. KATHY NAJIMY LOVES IT, TOO.
Midler isn't the only star of the film who isn't immune to its allure: Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year on August 15.
6. IT COULD HAVE STARRED LEONARDO DICAPRIO.
The role of Max was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. He turned it down to do What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
7. SARAH JESSICA PARKER IS RELATED TO A WOMAN FAMOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING A WITCH.
Had Sarah Jessica Parker known then what she knows now, she might have approached the role of Sarah Sanderson a little differently. When the actress went on the show Who Do You Think You Are to trace her family history, Parker discovered that one of her ancestors was Esther Elwell, one of the women accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. After a young girl said she saw Esther’s “spectre” strangling neighbor Mary Fitch, Elwell was arrested, but escaped going to trial.
8. THORA BIRCH REVISITED THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICAN BEAUTY.
While the kids are prematurely celebrating victory against the Sanderson sisters after locking them in the kiln, they’re shown talking in front of a house as they walk to a park. The house was later used as the house Thora Birch’s character lived in for American Beauty.
9. THE KIDS WEREN'T HUGE FANS OF THE CATS.
The kids all hated working with the cats. Many different cats were used to represent Binx, and each one served a different purpose—one was good at cuddling with the kids, one would jump on command, etc. Every time a new cat was used, the children would have to coerce the kitty to trust them by using treats and a clicker. They got sick of it.
10. MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CAST REUNITED FOR A 20TH REUNION.
Most of the cast participated in a 20th anniversary event for D23 (the Disney fan club) members. Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler were not in attendance, but pretty much everyone else was, including Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), and Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson). You can watch some of that reunion above.
Americans indulged their sweet tooth in a major way this Halloween, spending an estimated $2.7 billion on candy intended for front porch distribution. Rather than confronting a weepy child with an empty bowl because they bought too little, shoppers tend to buy in bulk. Come November, that can mean pounds of sugar-packed temptation still sitting in the house.
The good news: You can remove the risk to your waistline and do some good at the same time. A number of charitable organizations take leftover candy and send it to troops stationed overseas. Operation Gratitude has set up a number of drop-off centers around the country—you can search by zip code—to accept your extra treats. Once collected, they’ll send them to both troops and first responders. Last year, the group collected nearly 534,000 pounds of goodies.
Often, drop-off locations will be located in dental offices as a way of reminding everyone of the perils of tooth decay from excess sugar consumption. Some dentists even offer buy-back programs, paying $1 for each pound returned.
If donating to a national program is proving difficult, you can always deliver the extra candy to local food pantries or homeless shelters.