Back during the peak of incredible Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) there was one franchise to rule them all: Halloweentown. In 1998, a little movie called Halloweentown was released and it single handedly (okay, maybe an exaggeration) made Halloween cool again. The franchise of movies that stemmed from it are some of the best Disney Channel movies of all time — and the best Halloween movies ever. Step aside Hocus Pocus.
In case you haven’t watched the movies in a while (but, duh, you probably watched them last October) they totally hold up. Except for the fourth one that replaced Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie and for that we’ll never forgive it. Keep reading to be reminded why the Halloweentown films are the best Halloween movies of all time.
18. “Halloween is cool”
Marnie was always stoked on Halloween, even when those around her tried to diminish the holiday. Marnie was never allowed to trick-or-treat and was still obsessed with everything about the spooky holiday. That’s true love. Thank god she had the coolest grandma in the world to give her a yearly dose of all things Halloween. Halloween is the one true “weird” holiday we have and embracing the spooky, silly, scary side of things is never bad.
17. Halloweentown is full of all the coolest, creepiest, craziest ghouls and goblins you can imagine and we want to go to there
Imagine a world full of every monster you’ve ever heard of and they’re all just living together side by side. And they’re all super friendly! Well, for the most part. The werewolf hairdresser, the skeleton cabbie, and the zombie broom salesmen are just like you and I — except for the whole undead thing. You’ll never have a dull day living in a town like this.
16. Aggie’s the coolest grandma EVER
Who didn’t want a grandma like Aggie growing up? Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was played by the national treasure that was Debbie Reynolds. Aggie was a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of sass wrapped in a cloak. She always used her time in the mortal world to teach her grandkids how great Halloween was and introduced them to their real world when they were old enough. She’s also the head in a line of badass witches. Who could be more fierce?
15. The films are full of great life lessons about how being “normal” is not all it’s cracked up to be
Aggie was all about her grandchildren expressing their individuality. Who wants to be normal when you can be strange and interesting? Normal is, well, “vastly overrated.” The films reiterated this through each movie, they taught kids of every age that being yourself is the most important thing you can be. Whether that be a proud weirdo like Marnie or an obsessive worry-wart like Dylan (Joey Zimmerman), being yourself is always better than pretending to be something you’re not so that people like you.
14. It’s perfect nostalgia for your middle school years
Staying up late (aka 9 PM) and watching DCOMs on a Friday night was the LIFE. Watching these movies definitely transports you back to the days of bean bag chairs and lava lamps and watching grainy movies on the tiniest TV ever. Sometimes it’s quite nice to be reminded of simpler times, even if it’s only for a few hours.
13. Marnie is the independent pre-teen you wish you could be in your 20s
Marnie as a 13-year-old is 25-year-old #goals. She was fierce, independent, and didn’t take any crap from anyone. She’s also completely fearless and bops around the foreign Halloweentown like she owns the place. As she gets older, she only gets more badass, saving Halloweentown and the mortal world countless times and being instrumental in finally bringing the two worlds permanently together. I want to be Marnie when I grow up, with powers, too, please!
12. It gets real dark for a Disney Channel Original movie and has some surprisingly scary moments
There was some crazy scary stuff in these so-called kids movies. When Marnie’s mom turned into a frog person: Nightmare inducing. Or how about when Kalabar (Robin Thomas) reveals his true self to the people of Halloweentown? His disgusting, villainous form is something straight out of a legitimate horror movie. This is actually an amazing part of these movies. They didn’t shy away from the scary and bizarre instead of sugarcoating everything for kids. Even if that did mean we didn’t open our closets after it got dark for a solid month after watching these flicks.
11. Kalabar was the sassiest villain ever
Sure, he was terrifying, but he was also sassy AF. He just wanted people to listen to his evil speeches and was not having it when he didn’t have the audience’s full attention. Plus, before we even knew that he was evil, he was throwing shade at Aggie and trying to butter the kids up to get in good with their mom. Sassy and slightly creepy, even before the whole power-hungry monster thing is revealed… that certainly makes for an interesting character!
10. Benny is the best fictional cabbie of all time
Benny (Richard Side) is the best Halloweentown resident hands down. He’s always got a silly joke (usually about him being dead) and speed limits are not a thing in his mind. You may die in his cab but he’ll definitely get you to where you going faster than anyone else
9. The first film is all about sisterhood and taking down the patriarchy (a.k.a a crazy ass warlock)
The Cromwell women are a force to be reckoned with. The philosophy behind their magic was simply want something, and let yourself have it. Not an easy thing for most women to do which is why the Cromwell witches were so magical. The root of their magic was women taking what they want no matter what some man has to say. And when a man does get in the way? You get together three generations of incredible women (and, sure, one boy!) to take him down. #FeministGoals.
8. What witch wouldn’t fall for a bad boy warlock like Kal?
Kal (Daniel Kountz) from Halloweentown 2 was a total dreamboat. We know that he tried to destroy Halloweentown and the mortal world, but those eyes! Those pouty lips! That bad boy demeanor! Irresistible. So who can blame Marnie for being taken in by this charming villain? It’s pretty sweet when she takes him down but it would’ve been a bit sweeter if he gave up his evil ways and had adorable little witch babies with Marnie. Whatevs.
7. Dylan says what we’re all thinking
Dylan is known as the buzzkill little brother, but watching Halloweentown as an adult leads me to a different opinion of him. He’s basically the audience surrogate, saying what we’d all be thinking if we were in his shoes. C’mon, a magical Halloween-themed town through a portal?! How is that safe?! He’s always anxious and way too practical. But let’s be honest, I don’t think most of us would be as fearless as Marnie in these situations. We’re all total Dylans.
6. Halloweentown High is all about integrating Halloweentown and the mortal world drawing from heavy real life stuff for a very progressive kids movie
The third Halloweentown movie is basically a huge metaphor for desegregation of schools. When Marnie arranges for a group of Halloweentown teens to go to school with her in the mortal world she’s faced with the challenge of assimilating them and helping the mortals accept their new classmates.
It’s all pretty heavy for a Disney movie, but definitely important stuff for kids to be thinking about. Way to go Disney Channel for providing a great message for kids, teens, and adults alike. I think we could all learn a thing or two about accepting each other for who we are. Too bad that wasn’t the only thing these kids had to contend with since LITERAL KNIGHTS came for them too. Let’s just forget that part of it, though.
5. Marnie’s mom literally goes on a date with a frog in the second film. He is not her prince. Typical.
You know the saying you have to kiss a lot of frogs before your prince? They probably didn’t mean a man made up of a lot of frogs. When Kal is exacting his revenge, he uses a fake dad that he made of freakin’ frogs to lure Marnie’s mom to the dance. And not only does he get her to the dance, but he makes her don a creature mask right before Kal’s plan to turn people into their costumes takes effect. Yikes!
But frog guy had one good point: nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs all at once to realize he’s not your prince, he’s literally just frogs.
4. Who didn’t want to go to Gort’s house and find all the socks they’ve lost?
Gort’s (Blu Mankuma) house is the ultimate home for things you’ve lost. That single sock that goes missing, the earrings you lost after prom, your sanity. Well, maybe not that last one, but most things will be at Gort’s. You’ll just have to contend with the crotchety old owner, Gort, who doesn’t take kindly to you rifling through the things that are not yours, thank you very much. Maybe catch him in the middle of a gray spell — he’s much nicer then.
3. Trapa! Apart! made you think witchcraft was easy and that you could totally be a witch
Witchcraft is as easy as saying a word backwards? Who knew! And you can simply press bubble, toil, and trouble on your microwave for quick and easy potion brewing. Convenient! Alongside the idea that witchcraft is just wanting something and taking it, these movies made being a witch sound like something totally doable. And it totally sucked when we grew up and realized “witch” is not a viable profession. *Ugh*
2. Luke and Marnie were your first OTP
What was cuter than Marnie eschewing the dreamy Kal in favor for spending time with the literal goblin Luke (Phillip Van Dyke)? One of the great things about Marnie is that who a person was deep down mattered to her more than how they looked. And even when Marnie didn’t think she was special, Luke always believed in her. While these two tragically didn’t end up together long term (she had a new boo in the next movie), we’ll never forget our first OTP.
1. The cast of Halloweentown loves it as much as the fans do
The cast loves the movies as much as you do and they’re always going to events or talking about the films. Their next reunion will be in mid-October when they are coming together in the St. Helen’s, Oregon where the movie was shot to celebrate Debbie Reynolds’ life. Reynolds’ Grandma Aggie was the heart and soul of the series and they want to celebrate her life justly in the place that brought them together. The town celebrates the movie each year since it’s part of their history so if you’re sick of reading about the movies and want to experience Halloweentown yourself you can always head to Oregon.