Dash Reviews…Halloweentown

What’s up, everybody? It’s Dash Jordan and the most wonderful time of the year is finally here! Happy Halloween, boils and ghouls! Happy Friggin’ Halloween!!!

 

Well, I told you all that I had a few more surprises for you guys. You see…as I look out the window, I noticed something was a little off. Hardly any kids out and about trick-or-treating, and when there are kids out begging for candy, there not even in costumes. It’s a bunch of kids wearing their normal street clothes and cheap plastic masks. As for the parents, not only do they allow their kids to do this, they’re having meetings with the PTA on how they can make Halloween “safer”. How? By having some boring little get-together at the school with food trucks that give out candy or some bull like that. Sorry, guys. I know that your Spirit of Halloween sounds like a bit of a downer. I just hate the fact that when it comes to Halloween nowadays, today’s kids are a bunch of lazy brats, while today’s parents are all a bunch of…well…

…Get it? Truth be told, I almost gave up on this Halloween. Until I watched today’s film and was taken back to the glory days. So, how about I extend the same courtesy and bring you guys all back? Unfortunately, that means that we would have to delve into the dark and hellish realm simply known as…The Disney Channel.

Be afraid…be very afraid.

Disney - Halloweentown.jpg

‘Halloweentown’ was a Disney Channel Original movie from 1998. It was the first of the film series of the same name and stars Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, and Judith Hoag. Before you guys go nuts, I want to emphasize that this movie was made back in the glory days of the Disney Channel. A time when there were still cartoons shown on the network and the original movie actually had effort. ‘Halloweentown’ is no exception as it was critically praised back in the day and is still seen as one of the best movies to watch around Halloween, as well as one of the best, if not the best Disney Channel Original movie of all time. So how does it hold up? Well, let’s leave the Mortal World, take a trip back to Halloweentown and find out.

Now, taking off the rose-tinted glasses for just a moment, I do want to establish that this may not be a very long review, simply because ‘Halloweentown’ is not that long of a movie without the commercial breaks. Still, let’s start off by talking about the acting in this movie. Look, people…it’s a Disney Channel Original movie, not ‘The Color Purple’. The acting isn’t going to wow anyone. However, I will give credit where credit is due and mention the good performances in this movie. That being the three leading ladies of this movie; Marnie Piper(played by Kimberly J. Brown), Gwen Cromwell Piper(played by Judith Hoag), and of course, Splendora Agatha Cromwell(played by the legendary Debbie Reynolds). Brown as Marnie was a pretty competent actor in this movie(you know, as far as Disney Channel standards go). But I was actually surprised at how much I liked the Marnie character’s mother in this movie. Yes, Hoag plays the typical Disney mother who shelters her children, blah blah blah. I was expecting that. But I think the actor who truly stole the show out of those three would be Debbie Reynolds as Marnie’s grandmother. Simply because she had probably the most infectious and sweetest personality in this movie. Obviously, Reynolds was having fun in this movie, and I personally felt a feeling of nostalgia seeing the chemistry between Brown and Reynolds.

I think the only real problems I have with this movie is the other actors. Not to say that I hate child actors or anything, some of them can be surprisingly good. The other kids in this movie, however, I tolerated when I was an 8-year-old boy, but not as a 26-year-old man. I hate to say it, but I think the worst actor in this movie has to be the film’s villain…

Thank you, River. That demon guy is actually Karabar, the warlock mayor of Halloweentown. Sorry to spoil an 18-year-old kids movie, but I’m pretty sure all you guys have watched these movies at some point. Even at a young age, I could tell who the villain was. When Karabar finally does “reveal” himself as the film’s villain, it’s not even for a good reason. The thing that truly makes a great villain is their motivations, this guy had some pretty weak motivations. Again, it’s a Disney Channel Original movie, I’m not expecting the film’s villain to be a complex, sympathetic, Shakespearian tragedy…but come on!

shanemoose

Uhh, who would eat that? Anyway, I’m not going to talk about the CGI in this movie because let’s face it…it’s a made-for-TV movie so I wasn’t expecting much. However, if there’s one thing I could say really surprised me when I watched this movie again for this review, that would be the film’s set design and effects. Some of the makeup and animatronic effects were really well done. I’ll admit, I smiled and giggled a little bit to see that all these effects from my childhood still holds up today. It’s no Jim Henson, but it was all done competently enough so it gets my respect. Even the town itself is still fun to look at. For years, I’ve always wished I could go somewhere like Halloweentown…turns out I could’ve all this time as the actual town the movie was filmed in(St. Helens, Oregon) actually embraces what this film means to people and has a yearly tradition where they style the town exactly like ‘Halloweentown’. That’s incredible. Granted, they also filmed ‘Twilight’ there, but we’ll forgive them. No likes to remember their old one night stands.

‘Halloweentown’ is a bit like ‘Casper’ if you think about it. While it didn’t take as many risks as ‘Casper’, nor did it have the production value, ‘Halloweentown still manages to hold its own when it comes to the more family-friendly Halloween movies. There’s no sex, no scares, no gore, none of the things that would make it onto my personal recommendations for a Halloween marathon for the rest of you guys. But it doesn’t need it. Even it if wasn’t a Disney movie and was just a regular kids film from another studio, it would’ve probably still made for a good Halloween movie for your kids. The effects are still amazing, most of the actors are actually really good, it’s a simple premise, and it fully embraces the holiday it represents without the need of being too horrific. Which is something I can respect when pulled off right. So parents, remind your kids how Halloween truly works, pop this movie in, and take your kids out for trick-or-treating at night like you got some damn sense. Just remember…Halloween only comes around once a year. It’s the time of year where we’re not just allowed to be freaks, but it’s encouraged. So for Christ’s sake, enjoy yourselves!

Exactly! Happy Halloween, everyone! Now if you don’t mind, Halloween doesn’t stop until I say it stops. So, one more treat for you…and a trick for me. Yep, I need to prepare myself for some serious pain and torture.

Ugh…until then, Gotta Dash!

Rating: 8/10

Written by Shane Moose

A very special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!

Videos & Photos:

Halloweentown(owned by Disney Channel, Singer White Entertainment & Ventura Valley Films)

Trick ‘r Treat(owned by Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures & Bad Hat Harry Productions)

Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge(owned by Disney Channel & Just Singer Entertainment)

Doctor Who(owned by BBC)

Boo! A Madea Halloween(owned by Lionsgate & Tyler Perry Studios)

 

 

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