Halloween has always been my favorite holiday for many reasons. You can dress up in fun costumes, grab as much candy as you want and carve a pumpkin. I have many great memories of going to the pumpkin patch as a child with my parents. Another holiday highlight is that my birthday is the day after Halloween (I turn the big 2-0 this year).
But if I had to pick my personal favorite Halloween tradition, it was watching the month-long event on Disney Channel called Monstober.
Monstober was a marathon of Halloween-themed movies and TV shows that aired nightly in October. The one movie series I always looked forward to watching every year was the “Halloweentown” movies.
But first, I have something to confess; I am not the biggest fan of horror movies. There have been only three horror movies that I have enjoyed: “The Shining” (1980), “Psycho” (1960) and “Get Out” (2017).
Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled programming. What is there not to love about “Halloweentown” (1998)? It is about a girl named Marnie who, when her grandmother (played by the always entertaining Debbie Reynolds) visits on Halloween, finds out, along with her siblings, that they are witches and is whisked away to Halloweentown. Halloweentown is a place where vampires, witches, monsters and other creatures of the night live together.
When I first watched the movie at 7 years old, I became engrossed by it. It was, at that time, the best thing I had ever seen.
Let’s not forget the three sequels that followed. “Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge” (2001) takes place two years after the first movie and deals with the aftermath of the events that happened in the first one.
“Halloweentown High” (2004) is a weird movie in the series because it takes place primarily in the human world and deals with epic highs and lows of high school. Mix that in with transfer students from Halloweentown and hijinks will ensue.
Now, if you are a fan of the “Halloweentown” movies like I am, you know what I am about to talk about: the final film in the series, “Return to Halloweentown” (2006). Within the fandom, “Return to Halloweentown” is a controversial movie. The actress who played Marnie for the first three movies, Kimberly J. Browns, was replaced with actress Sara Paxton. When this installment is brought up in conversation, this recasting leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.
Look, I’ll let you in on a little secret; this will only stay between you and me. If we take the odd choice of recasting the lead actress out of the equation, “Return to Halloweentown” is not a bad movie. Out of all the “Halloweentown” movies, this one has the most rewatch value for me. The movie has time travel; that’s a win in my book.
Not everything involving Halloween has to be dark and scary. Sure, the plot to “Halloweentown” is cheesy and at times has bad late ‘90s-early 2000s special effects, but that’s what makes it fun. It can be good old light-hearted family fun.
So this Halloween, grab your favorite candy and take a trip down memory lane with “Halloweentown.”