Halloweentown (film series)

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Halloweentown
Disney - Halloweentown.jpg
Poster for the first film.
Directed by Duwayne Dunham (1)
Mary Lambert (2)
Mark A.Z. Dippé (3)
David S. Jackson (4)
Starring Kimberly J. Brown
Sara Paxton
Joey Zimmerman
Emily Roeske
Debbie Reynolds
Judith Hoag
(More)
Distributed by Disney Channel
Release dates 1: October 17, 1998 (1998-10-17)
2: October 12, 2001
3: October 8, 2004
4: October 20, 2006
Running time 336 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Halloweentown film series aired as works for television on The Disney Channel (presented as "Disney Channel Original Movies") between 1998 and 2006.

Background[edit]

Halloweentown proposes that fantasy beings such as Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Trolls, Ogres, Pumpkin Heads (a race of people with jack-o'-lanterns for heads), Skeletons, Goblins, Humanoids with varying numbers of heads, Humanoids with varying number of limbs, and Humanoids with varying number of sensory organs are real, but have separated themselves from Earth's history to escape humans' fear and persecution. These characters created their own community, Halloweentown, a thousand years ago in an alternate universe.

Travel between Halloweentown and the ordinary, historical world (which Halloweentown residents call "The Mortal World") is only possible with magical aid, and only at regulated times (on Halloween), until the portal seals at midnight. The events of the second film create a less restricted travel channel, and events of the third film breach the gap even more.

It is stated that many of the traditions of Halloween in the Mortal World are parallels based on regular traditions in Halloweentown. An example of this is how mortals wear costumes that mimic the creatures of Halloweentown, and are often depicted as being more frightening than they are naturally. In Halloweentown, the residents dress up every day, and some are much friendlier than humans generally depict them.

Although magic is present in many of the details of daily life of Halloweentown, it appears that only a limited number of persons actually practice or control magic. These people are mainly human, and are called witches (female) and warlocks (male). These beings appear human, but possess some sort of biological extra-sensory ability which allows them to harness magic unlike their "mortal" counterparts. Magic is also hereditary in their families.

The Halloweentown movies concern episodes in the lives of the Cromwell-Piper family. The family matriarch, Agatha Cromwell, has been a pillar of Halloweentown society for centuries. Her daughter, Gwen Piper, married a mortal and chose to leave Halloweentown for a life in the Mortal World. At the time of the movies, she is apparently widowed. She has decided to raise her three children (Marnie, Dylan, and Sophie) apart from magic, and thus rejects contact with Halloweentown and the influence of her mother.

Literary themes[edit]

All four movies develop the characters and plot around a triad of relationships among the three main characters:

The mother-daughter relationship between Aggie and Gwen is tense. They live in different worlds. There is a generation gap between the choices of the two. The parent tries to persuade her child to do things the way the parent prefers. Aggie and Gwen struggle over whether Gwen's children will know their magical heritage. Gwen is totally against the whole thing but Marnie overhears she's a witch and follows Aggie to Halloweentown.

The mother-daughter relationship between Gwen and Marnie mirrors in many ways the one between Aggie and Gwen. The same underlying cause (their attitudes toward the magical heritage of the family) causes another generation gap. Marnie wants the magical life her grandmother offers, and resents her mother's rejection of that choice. This relationship is somewhat echoed in Gwen's relationship with younger daughter Sophie.

The grandmother-granddaughter relationship between Aggie and Marnie has two aspects. Aggie provides what Marnie misses in her relationship with Gwen. Aggie is also a magical teacher to Marnie, who becomes Aggie's apprentice.

The teacher-apprentice relationship between Aggie and Marnie also exhibits some common comic themes. Aggie often plays an addled grandmother - her magic seems to more about pride than potency. In the first two movies, the apprentice takes over when the teacher is defeated, and both outshines and rescues the teacher. Yet Aggie's formidable reputation is based on skills she actually has, and Aggie comes through after her rescues to lend essential strength in the climactic confrontations.

The first and third movies rely heavily on the theme of xenophilia, of a stranger coming to town, and running afoul of unfamiliar local customs. In Halloweentown, Marnie, Sophie, and Dylan are tourists in the unfamiliar town of Halloweentown but they have heard of it earlier that night when Aggie showed them the Halloweentown book. In Halloweentown High, Marnie plays the local expert who rescues both Aggie and the Halloweentown students from comic situations.

Prejudice is also a strong theme in the series. In the second movie, for example, each society is turned into its own misconception of the other.

In Halloweentown High, Marnie makes a foolish wager (to be fair, this is accidental; Marnie says she would "bet all the Cromwell magic" that she can get the two worlds to co-exist peacefully, not thinking for one second that the Witch Council would actually take her up on this; indeed, her defense is that "I thought it was just a figure of speech!"). When this theme appears in literature, the wager may be unwinnable, resulting in tragedy. Because this movie is a comedy, the family finds an unexpected way to win the wager, causing a happy ending.

Cast and characters[edit]

Character Films
Halloweentown Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge Halloweentown High Return to Halloweentown
Marnie Piper Kimberly J. Brown Sara Paxton
Aggie Cromwell Debbie Reynolds Debbie Reynolds
Sara Paxton (young)
Gwen Piper Judith Hoag
Dylan Piper Joey Zimmerman
Sophie Piper Emily Roeske
Luke Phillip Van Dyke
Kalabar Robin Thomas
Benny Rino Romano
Harriet Judith M. Ford
Kal Daniel Kountz
Astrid Xandra Radley
Alex Peter Wingfield
Gort Blu Mankuma
Ethan Dalloway Lucas Grabeel
Edgar Dalloway Michael Flynn
Cody Finn Wittrock
Cassie Eliana Reyes
Principal Phil Flanagan Clifton Davis
Pete Todd Michael Schwartzman
Chester Jessie Harward
Natalie Olesya Rulin
Bobby Bob Lanoue
Scarlett Kristy Wu
Sage Katie Cockrell
Sapphire Kellie Cockrell
Silas Sinister Keone Young
Chancellor Goodwin Leslie Wing
Professor Precilla Persimmon Periwinkle Millicent Martin
Dr. Grogg Scott Stevenson
Aneesa Summer Bishil
Burp-Urp-Snurt-Pfsfsfsfst III Christopher Miller

References[edit]