- “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. Despite her great vanity, she was not exactly beautiful.
Role in the film
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. Such a child was Emily Binx from whom they sucked her dry of her youth so that she died of being so dramatically aged.
For this crime, along with their refusal to reveal what they'd done to Emily's brother, Thackery (whom they'd turned into an immortal black cat), the Sanderson Sisters were condemned to be hanged, but Winifred 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.
Eventually, this prophecy was fulfilled when Max Dennison lit the candle 300 years later. The sister then tried to abduct him, his sister, Dani, and his crush, Allison, in order to suck the lives out of all three of them, specifically Dani. With the help of Thackery and Billy, the kids eventually defeated the sisters.
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.