Terror Revisited: HALLOWEENTOWN (1998)

Thank you 1998!

I could not be more delighted with my HALLOWEENTOWN rewatch experience. It’s a sweet, silly, super-kid-friendly story about some good witches who save the day, all while learning the power of family and believing in yourself.

No surprises there, but what did surprise me was how well it held up from a story perspective. As discussed in my glowing review of the BLAIR WITCH (1999), I wasn’t allowed to consume much witch stuff as a kid (Harmless Disnified witches were the exception to this), which is probably why it took me until now to realize how much HALLOWEENTOWN has in common with 90s girl-power staple CHARMED.

Obviously CHARMED is a sexy TV show primarily aimed at teen girls and adult women, while HALLOWEENTOWN, directed by Duwayne Dunham, is a chaste film aimed at pre-pubescent kids and their exhausted parents looking for a distraction for just one blessed hour. But both are stories about female-dominated families of ultra-powerful witches with mixed relationships with their own power. The witches are at their strongest when they work together, and when they accept who they truly are and use that for the betterment of society. They fight against yucky monsters who are often disguised as cute dudes, and only by coming to know themselves and their family legacy of magic can they triumph over world-dominating evil!

Basically the same show, right?

What I really loved was how 90s girl-power the whole thing felt. There are just oodles of women, and nobody ever gets mocked for being fat or having a bad haircut – that’s kind of the whole point of Halloweentown. It’s a place for all the magical weirdos out there. I also think I detected a few teen girl know-it-all stereotypes that my 13-year-old self lifted straight out of the TV to supplement my own derivative and uninspired teen rebellions.

And of course, being a 90s Disney Original, it feels a little hokey at times. All the costumes look like they were bought at a party store on clearance on November 1. The effects have aged no better or worse than anything else from the 90s, and maybe better than some things – it was just so gosh darn low-budget they stuck with invisible strings and smoke machines, and skipped the crappy 90s CGI.

As we roll into full-on Spooktober I’m planning to dive into some all-time scaries, so I’m happy I ended September with this fun flick.

It’s like a candy corn amuse bouche for my Halloween palate.

Does It Pass

  • Bechdel-Wallace Test: Flying Colors
  • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass
  • Willis Test: Nah.
  • Ko Test: Heck no.
  • Roxane Gay Test: Yeah, no.
  • Carie-Burns Test: Super pass! Possibly one or two people die but they sort of skate over the details…happy endings for all!

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Dramaturg. I like coffee and Whisky and dogs and talking in person.

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