‘Halloweentown’ offers nostalgic alternative to horror movies


Chandler Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

As Halloween approaches, out of an abundance of caution, many people plan to opt-out of more traditional activities, such as trick-or-treating, and instead, choose to stay in and watch a festive movie. While some may recommend The Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus, a more underrated gem is Halloweentown. Littered with a smorgasbord of 1990s fashion and awful green screen effects, Halloweentown is less trick and more treat, to say the least.

Directed by Duwayne Dunham (Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey), Halloweentown is a 1998 Disney Channel original movie set during Halloween and stars Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown and Judith Hoag. The film follows Marnie (Brown) and her two siblings, Dylan and Sophie, as they discover that their grandmother (Reynolds) is secretly a witch and resides in a magical land, aptly named Halloweentown, where vampires, goblins, witches, warlocks and other supernatural creatures coexist. 

Calling this movie “of its time” is an understatement. Nostalgia oozes from the screen from the primitive special effects to Hoag’s mom jeans she sports throughout the movie. While these qualities make the movie objectively worse, Halloweentown has undeniable charm. The monster masks hugging tightly to the citizens of Halloweentown are whimsical, and the small details from dialogue add to the world building that pays dividends in the franchise sequels. The child acting was adorable, and the family dynamic between Hoag and the kids was realistic and wholesome. Of course, Debbie Reynolds was the true star of the show. With iconic lines such as “mortals see, mortals do” and “there’s a reason witches don’t drive minivans,” Halloweentown would be significantly less enjoyable without her. 

For those that grew up with this movie, Halloweentown is surely worth revisiting. It is likely not the best Halloween movie out there, but it is one with a lot of heart. This movie is also great for anyone that avoids traditional horror movies during Halloween. Halloweentown can be streamed on Disney+ or rented on Amazon Prime.