1998 was a good year for Disney Channel Movies; not only did we get Brink!, but we also got the famous Halloween film, Halloweentown. Disney introduced the world to the Sanderson Sisters in 1993 with Hocus Pocus, and just five years later we get another group of witches (and warlock) to love: The Cromwells.
The Cromwells were such a memorable family because of how authentic they felt. All Disney Channel families felt a little too perfect and bland even with the movie conflicts. Gwen Cromwell (Judith Hoag) was a single mother trying to hide the real reason why her kids can’t celebrate Halloween and Aggie Cromwell (Debbie Reynolds) was the fun grandmother who brings her tricks and treats to entertain her curious grandchildren.
Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly Brown) was the teenager that every Hot Topic kid related to: angsty and obsessed with Halloween and monsters Her experiences with Deja Vu have Aggie convinced that she is showing off her witch’s powers and if she doesn’t start training by midnight, her powers will be lost forever.
After hearing their mother reject their grandmother’s plea for help, Marnie and her siblings sneak out and follow Aggie to Halloweentown by a magical flying bus. When they get there, they find a beautiful place full of creatures of all shapes and sizes and, most importantly, a huge jack o lantern. The family must team up and fight the evil warlock, Kalabar, who wants to take over Halloweentown and turn it to the dark side. To defeat him, they must look inside themselves and believe in their magic and the powers they’ve had all along.
For a TV movie, this was, surprisingly, well done. With how detailed it looked, I’m surprised it wasn’t considered for a theater release at first. The sets were so whimsical and full of life with vivid and quirky details sprinkled throughout. The monsters were goofy, fun, and also quite terrifying (Kalabar definitely haunted my dreams for a long time). It’s the perfect movie to watch during the season, especially if horror films aren’t your forte. The Disney Channel made a good amount of Halloween themed films such as Don’t Look Under the Bed and Mom’s Got a Date With A Vampire, but Halloweentown is the one film that is never missed during the season. It’s also one of the only Disney Channel films to spawn a franchise (though we don’t talk about any of the films after the sequel).
After nearly 20 years, Halloweentown is considered a timeless classic. The overall feel of the universe leaves us wishing for a real Halloween town. If you’re in the mood for a road trip, St Helens, Oregon recreates the famous set every year for locals and tourists all around. It may have not have flying broomsticks or glittery ice cream, but it’ll do nicely.