- “Go to Hell!
Oh, I've been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely!”
- ―Winnifred's answer to Billy's insult
Winifred Sanderson (referred to as "Winnie" by her sisters) is the primary antagonist in Hocus Pocus.
Winnifred was the eldest of The Sanderson Sisters, and by far the most dangerous. Her incredibly fearsome magic stemmed from what appears to be a Spellbook bound in human skin that was given to her by her Master, Satan. She and her Sisters would often lead children away from the village to their Cottage, where Winnie's potion would be used to suck the lives out of them to restore their youth. Along with her power of Flight by Broomstick, and the use of magical incantations, she could cast spells through singing, such as seen when she and her sisters cast a spell upon the adults of Salem to dance themselves to death, by singing I Put a Spell on You.
Winnifred was what could be called a 17th century diva, highly dramatic and temperamental which made her all the more deadly if one wasn't careful. Not only was she an incredibly powerful witch, she was quite competent and cunning, compared to her sisters Mary and Sarah, whose idiocy would often exacerbate her peace of mind. Despite her annoyance with the two however, she did have a familial loyalty towards her sisters. When Sarah engaged in an affair with Billy Butcherson, her lover, she made his final moments agonizing with poison and a dull needle, but, while probably giving her a stiff punch in the head, caused little harm to her sister.
This sadistic side of hers probably came from what many assumed to be a personal relationship with the Devil himself, whom as stated above, gave her the Spell-Book whom she adored like a child. She enjoyed causing misfortune and despair to others, such as seen through her gleeful giggling when she abused Max with her powers. Even when facing execution, her sarcastic and wicked sense of humor remained. She herself even found hell "quite lovely", after her death. She could be forgetful however, even after brewing the potion countless of times, without her book she was helpless to figure out the ingredients. Of the three of them Winnie was the one sister who was best able to adapt to the 90's, though that wasn't saying much.
Winnie's most striking feature was her fiery red hair, which she would often wear in an upward curled bouffant style. She would often dress in greener shades, and her body type fell in between her sisters, not as plump as Mary, but not slender like Sarah. She was also buck-toothed with heavily reddened cheeks. Despite her great vanity, she was not exactly beautiful.
She and her sisters live on the outskirts of Salem, in the late 1600's. Back when she was alive, her lover was Billy Butcherson, but she found out he had an affair with Sarah. Enraged, she poisoned him and sewed his mouth shut with a dull needle so that he could not reveal her secrets even in death. She sold her soul, and possibly the souls of her sisters, to Lucifer for a spellbook of evil magic, containing a recipe for a potion that would enable them to suck the youth from children and maintain their own.
One night, Winifried instructed Sarah to sing her siren song to lure Emily Binx to their cottage unaware that Emily's older brother, Thackery followed her and sneaked into their cottage. Just as they were about ot let Emily drink the potion, Thackery revealed himself and fought the sisters and dumped the potion, but was unable to save Emily after Winifried used her electric powers on him. The sisters succeded in letting Emily drink the potion and sucked her youth, efficently killing and making them younger.
Winifried decided to make more potion to make her and her sisters more younger, but after Thackery called them hags, she decided not to kill him for punishment, but to their amusement turned him into black cat who must live forever with the guilt of letting Emily die. The townspeople arrived to capture the sisters and hanged them. Thackery and Emily's parents demanded them to answer what they did to Thackery, but refusing to reveal what they'd done him, Winifred used her spellbook to warned them that in time, on Halloween when the moon was full, a virgin would light the Black Flame Candle and summon them back from the dead.
300 years later in 1993 on Halloween, this prophecy was fulfilled when a boy named Max Dennison takes his sister, Dani trick-or-treating and gets together with his crush, Allison, whose mother used to run the museum that was the Sanderson house. They break in and Max foolishly lights the candle thinking that it's just a bunch of hocus pocus and ends up resurrecting the Sandersons. When they came back to the cottage, Mary quickly finds Dani with her power to sniff out children. Just as they were about to put Dani in the pot, Max and Alison fought the sister to save her. Max tricks them into thinking he is a wizard using a lighter to summon the "Burning Rain of Death" (the fire alarm system) in the house making them think it would kill them. Max later stole the spellbook after being told by Thackery and left the cottage. Winifred realized that Max tricked them and the sister went off to get the spellbook back, but hid after the firefighters came to the house. Winifred explains to her sisters that when the sun is up after Halloween, they'll turn into dust unless they can suck the lives of all the children in Salem.
The sisters found them at the cemetery and Winifred summons her ex-lover, Billy Butcherson to get her book back. The sisters encounter a bus driver and rode on the bus, until Mary smelled children. But they were confused when the children were wearing costumes. They encounter a man dressed as Satan and mistaking him for their true master and his wife to be Medusa (a woman with snake-like curlers in her hair), but were so chased out of the house by the man's wife but finds their brooms gone after they were taken by some children dressed like the sisters. When Winifred unmasked a kid in a costume, she realizes the truth of Halloween that children wear costumes and run amok.
The sisters went to a Halloween party where Max's parents and Max, Dani and Allison tried to warn them, but they didn't believe them, so Max went to the stage and used a microphone to tell everyone about the Sanderson Sister and revealed them, but Winifred ridicules him before singing "I Put a Spell on You" therefore enchanting all the adults causing them to dance until they die. After this they went to Max and Allison's high school where Max spoke through the microphone at the office telling them that the spellbook is here. The sisters heard a voice taking about a book which the sisters think it know about the spellbook, but it was actually a tape recording and were unwittingly lead to a klin where the children locked the door and burned them alive after Allison gets an idea from a restaurant.
However, they did not die due to the curse protecting them from death until sunrise. Mary used her smelling to find Max, but they were lead to two high school bullies, Jay and Ernie (better known as Ice) as Ernie was wearing Max's shoes that he stole them during their first encountering with Max and making fun of him. After Jay called the sisters ugly chicks, the sisters captured them and took them to their cottage locking them in small hanging cages. Knowing they don't have much time left, Winifred tried to make the potion from memory, but she can't remember the ingredients and called out to her book and cried in despair.
Allison and Max, despite the warnings that nothing good can come from the book, open it to find a cure Thackery's immortality and the book sends out a signal after being opened. Winifred saw the signal and used a corn broom, while Sarah used a mop and Mary used a Hoover vacuum cleaner to fly to its location. They secretly invade the house and grabbed the book, Thackery, and Dani, but after accidentally breaking some glass and knowing that Max and Alison would come to get Dani and Thackery, they hid in the closet as Sarah hid under the blankets. Max and Alison arrived and the sisters revealed themselves. The sisters violently exploding from the house, but not before Winifred reveals the nature of the spell that brought them back to Allison.
Winifred and Mary made their way back to the cottage while Sarah sang her siren song to all the children of Salem so they will go to the house. When Dani called her ugly, Winifred decides to kill her first. After brewing the potion again they try to get Dani to drink it, but are stopped by Max who tricks them into thinking the sun has risen by using the headlights of his parents' car and Max drained all the potion. However they realize they have been tricked and Winifred was upset that her potion was all gone, but there was still enough potion left for one child. Despite Sarah and Mary saying that they have Jay and Ernie and that more children are here, Winifred wanted to used it on Dani as revenge for calling her ugly.
The sisters chased after them and Winifred ordered Billy to kill Max, but he used Max's knife to sever the stitches on his lips, he apparently breaks the control Winifred has over him and joins the kids against them. Dani is put on Billy's grave while Allison circles some salt around to prevent the witches from reaching her. The sisters arrived and fought the kids and Billy. When Winifred knocked down Billy's head, Dani came out to give Billy his head back giving Winifred the opportunity to grab her. Winifred takes out the vial of potion and tried to force Dani into opening her mouth to drink it, but Thackery saves Dani by knocking the last vial of the life stealing potion out of Winifred's hand and Max catches it. Winifred grabs Thackery and threw him to a rock. Max threatens to smash the vial of potion, but Winifred threatens to kill Dani if he did. With no other choice, Max drinks the potion and Winifred lets Dani go and grabs Max trying to suck his life force, but Max tried to hold her off while Dani, Allison, and Billy hold back Sarah and Mary to prevent them from helping Winifred by grabbing the plug hanged from Mary's vacuum cleaner. They let go causing the two sister to fly high up to the air out of control and letting Max and Winifred fall to the ground. Winifred recovers and tries to steal Max's life force, but because she is standing on hallowed ground, she turns to stone as the sun came up. Sarah and Mary both explode, with Winifred's statue doing so afterward.
Winnie and her sisters returned in a special Castle Show at the Magic Kingdom. During the show she and her sisters try to brew the perfect Halloween Potion, receiving assistance from various Disney Villains. After completing the Potion she celebrates by singing I Put a Spell on You.