Halloween Film Review: Halloweentown (1998, dir. Duwayne Dunham)


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By the time this came out in 1998 I had long since stopped watching the Disney Channel or celebrating Halloween. And apparently, I didn’t miss much. I’m not sure how this spawned three sequels.

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The movie begins with Gwen Cromwell Piper (Judith Hoag) telling her daughter she can’t go celebrate Halloween like all the other children. Now of course I figured it was because she didn’t want her daughter to be sacrificed to Satan and participate in a holiday that cannot be divorced from it’s Pagan origins. Law Enforcement Guide To Satanic Cults and Part 1 of The Pagan Invasion taught me that. However, it’s nothing fun like that. It’s just that they come from a family of witches and she married a human so she wants to raise them all like humans.

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Enter Debbie Reynolds on The Magical School Bus, Marry Poppins style. After showing off to the kids magic grandma style, she leaves to go back to her home. By the way, have you ever noticed that in these kid friendly witch things, their powers are genetically inherited rather than acquired by invoking some sort of non-human entity?

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Anyways, after the movie reminds us that Universal still has a trademark on the Wolfman, the kids follow Reynolds back onto the bus.

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After seeing some supernatural creatures on the bus, they arrive in Hill Valley…I mean Halloweentown. The kids meet the mayor and that’s important, but who cares cause we now meet the cabby.

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He’s like Manny from Grim Fandango! He is the best character in this whole movie. I really hope he’s in the sequels. I can’t say enough good things about him. Well, of course some bad things are happening in Halloweentown and Reynolds is trying to get the mayor to listen, but he doesn’t. The mother also shows up to complain and act worried about the kids. After showing off the town a bit, Reynolds comes to a theater.

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I would say that means something bad is going on, but I’ve been told that’s what screenings of Oogieloves (2012) looked like.

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But then this guy shows up and freezes Debbie Reynolds and the mom. This leaves the kids to run around town collecting ingredients for a spell to help them. Ultimately, it takes the whole family to deal with the evil. Blah, blah, blah. It’s not a bad setup, but they just don’t do much of anything with it. Disappointing.

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