Thursday, October 1, 2015


Hello and welcome to the Eldritch Month, all of October will be media with a spooky theme. Films and comics and book alike featuring eerie tales. This year I've chosen the Disney TV movie series Halloweentown, where we'll be reviewing each film. That's right a feature a week for this Eldritch time of the year. Keep your wits about you as we creepy closer to All Hallow Even.

The film starts off with a pumpkin, very nice start since it introduces the cast and the title of the film, also a candle. It's interesting that it opens the same way as a lot of Halloween films, a panning shot down to children running around from sidewalk to sidewalk. Then we pop into a house, nothing telling us who's house or the name of the family, since they throw that around like a hot potato once they get to the film's titular village.

The Mom of this movie was -- is April O'Neil… my heart knows no other that fit the role so well. The oldest daughter is very good at emoting, also she's a potato, her words not mine. It's the lines that let her show humanity and that she's a skilled actress, rather than a child actor. There's two other siblings, but all three aren't interesting, since we don't really build characters in this film, mostly interesting traits to a character. The Grandmother is a very good actress, they gave her a Mary Poppins like aura, though they were heavy on the "she's magic" subtext. Since the Grandmother pops up unannounced and starts being a Grandmother, spoiling her Grandchildren and having the Mother's home turn upside down. After that she becomes the sweet Granny one would expect, offers to read the children a bed time tale and pulls out a book, from nowhere… she's magic, got it, good, neat, everything she does is magic cause she's a witch, yes, thank you movie for ramming it in that she's magical.

I think a sword made of light would have been a lot better in this film
Professor Steeping, Tea Steeping, and Gom link together another famous coming of age story

Oh, and she never told the story before bed, she just showed them the book and left. At least the kids get to keep the Children's Illustrated Novel "HalloweenTown" I guess that's it for the night as the Grandmother and Mother talk more about being a witch and how the Mother wants to keep her family human and not a witch. It's not stated why the Mother doesn't like magic or being a witch. The Mother and Grandmother fight a bit about plot, then the Mother mentions the bus and how she'll be late. The urgency implied is she'll be stuck here, so she's bound by the Halloween bus. I've been there, you miss the Iron Horse and you're stuck in the Drowning City till Helios rides across the sky again, sorry, enough about me.

Hey plot! The Grandmother gives up exposition on a matter that Halloweentown is disappearing, we find out later, she means that Halloweentown's residents are disappearing. I think this script was written organically, I liked how it all came together at the end, but it felt too much like it was still being pulled together from the pitch.

Anyway, why doesn't the Mother want to help her Mother, she came looking for a savior and also knows about magic (implying that it's a mundane thing), this could be a threat on all realities. Why doesn't she want to help, that's a selfish thing to do and say to someone that's your Mother. I mean there's stubborn, she doesn't want magic in her life, but then there's "I would rather not exist in any plane of reality" stubborn.

The Grandmother leaves and the Oldest Daughter follows after her Grandmother like all classic kid's movies, also excepts the idea within the first moment that it was mentioned she's a witch. Oh, and the Mother doesn't hear her own door open and close as two of her kids leave (we find out that all three children are gone for hours before she checked on them and heads for Grandma's house).

Anyhow, we're off the bus and in Halloweentown, so we meet the Mayor, I'm glad we can see the bad guy right off the bat. Really this is the first time I've seen this film and something about this character screamed EVIL. Also It's interesting that they mentioned Merlin and a guy in the background dressed as a wizard with a pointed hat and long beard walked around on cue. Another thing that's interesting is their talk about ancestry and tradition, how the Mother wants to cut that important part of her life out of her spawns' heritage. I think that could have been expended, and again her reasoning for wanting to keep magic and "normality" separate still wasn't established. Then we end with where we began, a pumpkin gets it's candle back and the family becomes whole again.

Short and long of things, this is a story about family, culture appreciation, and getting over the fear of change. It's a cute movie, not really a kid's film, though this is what a TV movie from 1998 looked like, it's like a student film for their first year. That's the blunt message I'm getting from the film, that it took a weekend to write and a lot of the sets look like they went to a prop warehouse yard sale. In general the set, plot, and characters feel like an expanded Goosebumps episode, that's not bad, since the acting is miles above the TV series.

That's the main problem I have in this movie, there's really good actors and passionate moments. The characters and actors interact well with each other, natural for the most part. Though that's what gets me, the casting director and cast were tops, though the script was junk. If the script went into detail of the things that would have made this film deeper, like their heritage. The film, well would stop being a fun romp through a bizarre town and would be something along the lines of Return to Oz. Nonetheless, there are deep things brought up in the film that are glanced over with gags and plot progression.

This might be the best part about the film, they know it's a TV movie, so everything has to be timed perfectly, nothing can be padding, for the most part. So the pacing of the movie is done pretty well, getting in the majority of the lore within the first 40 minutes. Though that's where things fall apart, instead of having the film naturally place history into the movie, it keeps spilling it out all over like a hurled bottle of rum at a brick wall. There's pieces everywhere and somethings that I'd enjoy though if it was in a presentation that would allow me to get the most of it. Seems to be a lot of story in this world and most of that history revolves around the main family, none of that is expanded on (except that they're a powerful witch family), though the film keeps telling us it has importance, but I've yet to see any pertinence with the plot. Since it's not the town being attack, the people are the targets, but except for the Mother and Grandmother, no one from the history of the town is being taken, since it's only the history of the town its self that's being talked about and not the important people to the town.

The idea of a horror movie or a kid's horror film is to grab the human since of things, what makes me scared, what makes me nervous, how to build suspense, and give into the trill of fear. In short it's about taking away the fourth wall and just becoming a part of the fiction. That's the problem with this movie is that it keeps reminding us that there is a separation between us and them. Also the heavy handed emphasis that there's magic, this is a magical world, everything is magic, though not friendship, no, only blood, that's right, in this world family is magic.

In closing, think of this film less of a Holiday special and more like a campy movie with it's setting around Halloween, cause it's not meant to be taken serious. Focus on the best elements and laugh at the outdated effects and goofy townsfolk, since it feels like a tongue-in-cheek take on the coming of age witch story. It's no Ninja Turtles movie, but it's still that perfect 90's camp that makes the film worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of bad movies and foam costumes.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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