A Halloweentown Retrospective: “Being normal is vastly overrated”

With the arrival of the most beautiful holiday of the year, it’s time for you to find that special place that exists somewhere between deciding to add some sexy to your grape costume and eating enough candy to make that impossible.

The place isn’t your neighbor’s drunken, magic-mushroom-filled rager that kept you up all night, crying over your sad, uninvited self. It’s not the expensive costume shop that prompted you to make the grape costume in the first place, nor is it the live showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show (everyone should attend at least one of these, though, if only to hear Susan Sarandon repeatedly called a slut). No, this place is more special still. It’s Halloweentown, and this is the one time of year you can buy it on DVD and not one person can question you.

On the off-chance you haven’t seen it, Halloweentown, the name casually lifted from Tim Burton’s lesser work, is a Disney Channel Original Movie in every way. The Cromwells are your average TV movie family:  older sister with oh-so-much potential, nerdy younger brother with a host of psychological issues and complexes (most of which are never addressed), and cute baby sister who makes every badly-written line a carnival of adorable. They have a single mom who is overly strict and totally has some big secret beef with Grandma Cromwell coming for her annual Halloween visit (totally not suspicious, Grandma).

And that’s where everything gets all crazy:

  • Grandma’s a witch and after she and Mom have a fight, she turns some chicken leftovers back into a real chicken. Because magic.
  • The kids see this and sneakily follow Grandma to Halloweentown, via Knight Bus magic bus.
  • Guess what? The Potters Cromwells are a historically renowned family of witches and wizards, and, oh yeah, all the kids have powers that will expire if they don’t exercise them. Many of these powers involve green screens and spray-painted accessories.
  • There’s big evil afoot in Halloweentown! Grandma even saw some maniacally laughing green guy in her cauldron, so clearly the Halloweensky is falling.
  • It’s all good. The kids have only known of their powers for all of a week, but they are more than prepared to take on the evil Quirrel Kalabar in a secret chamber movie theatre when he freezes Mom and Grandma (clearly not prepared enough, see Halloweentown II- Kalabar’s Revenge)

Image courtesy of Disney

That said, you may be wondering what besides a wonderful story makes this film so special, so essential to Halloween. Maybe the discovery that making “Halloween” into a prefix is an excellent way to both annoy your friends and spice up your life (“Dude, grab me a Halloweenbeer from the Halloweenfridge.”). Or perhaps the deep reflexivity of a TV movie having its characters frozen and trapped in a movie theatre by the evil mayor of the town will capture your attention (Disney, what does it MEAN?). Of course, you might just find joy in Debbie Reynolds, of Singin’ in the Rain fame, playing a magical grandmother from a town where it’s always Halloween in not one, but four, of these films. This great amalgam of factors is what makes Halloweentown the crazy, 90’s saturated joyride it is. After all, as Grandma would tell us, “Being normal is vastly overrated.”

But being a sexy bunch of grapes is just never going to work out for you.

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