U.S. VHS cover
|Directed by||Dorian Walker|
|Produced by||Bob Manning
Alana H. Lambros
|Written by||Robin Menken
Joshua John Miller
|Music by||Larry Weir
|Editing by||Natan Zahavi|
Trans World Entertainment
|Running time||90 minutes|
Teen Witch is a 1989 fantasy teen comedy film starring Robyn Lively and Zelda Rubenstein. It was originally pitched as a female version of the 1985 Teen Wolf, although it later was reworked and turned into a film of its own. The soundtrack consists of mainly dance music, but the film score is jazz. There are also numerous impromptu rap musical numbers. The film has become a cult classic, with midnight theater showings and regular airings on ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween. The film is popular not only for its music, but also for 1980s fashion nostalgia.
After a bike accident, sweet but nerdy 15-year old Louise Miller (Lively) knocks on the door of a strange-looking house, hoping to use the phone. Instead she finds a strange but welcoming woman, the seer Madame Serena (Rubinstein), who is stunned to realize that Louise is a reincarnated witch and an old friend of Serena's. On Louise's 16th birthday, her magical powers return to her through a powerful amulet she lost in a former life. Now that Louise has the power to make her dreams come true, she casts a popularity spell to win the hottest guy in school, Brad (Gauthier), without earning his love. Louise then becomes the most popular girl in school while getting back at her harassing English teacher, Mr. Weaver, and the cheerleaders who never respected her. After her popularity spell gets out of hand, and realizing that believing in yourself is the true magic, Louise gives up her power to make her own happy ending.
- Robyn Lively as Louise Miller
- Dan Gauthier as Brad Power
- Joshua John Miller as Richie Miller
- Caren Kaye as Margaret Miller
- Dick Sargent as Frank Miller
- Lisa Fuller as Randa
- Mandy Ingber as Polly Goldenberg-Cohen (billed as Amanda Ingber)
- Tina Caspary as Shawn
- Zelda Rubinstein as Madame Serena
- Shelley Berman as Mr. Weaver
- Marcia Wallace as Ms. Malloy
- Cindy Valentine as Shana the Rock Star
- "All Washed Up" - Larry Weir
- "Dream Lover" - Cathy Car
- "Finest Hour" - Cindy Valentine featuring Larry Weir
- "High School Blues" - The Puppy Boys
- "I Keep on Falling" - Blue Future
- "I Like Boys" - Elizabeth & The Weirz
- "Get Up and Move" - Cathy Car
- "Much too Much" - Cathy Car
- "Never Gonna Be" (opening sequence) - Lori Ruso
- "Never Gonna Be" (concert version) - Cindy Valentine
- "Popular Girl" - Theresa & The Weirz
- "Rap" - Philip McKean & Larry Weir
- "Shame" - The Weirz
- "Top That" - The Michael Terry Rappers
- "In Your Arms" - Richard Elliot
- Music recorded at Weir Brothers Studio
Box office and reception
The production budget for Teen Witch was $2,500,000. The film was released in the US on April 23, 1989 and grossed $3,875 in its opening weekend at the box office, and only $27,843 total in its entire run. April 1989 box office competition included Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner and Pet Sematary, written by Stephen King. Both films were released on April 21, 1989, two days before the Teen Witch release.
Teen Witch is a cult classic, having gained newer, younger audiences after multiple airings on cable network channels such as HBO and Cinemax in the 1990s. Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post stated, "There are good movies, there are bad movies, there are movies that are so bad they're good and then there is Teen Witch -- a cult classic that defies classification thanks to a curious combination of songs, spells and skin." Joshua John Miller stated of his involvement with the film as character Richie, "If you look at Teen Witch, it was a very campy performance. But it's a really fun film and something I have grown to honor."
There are various parodies or homages with regard to the film, especially of its rap song "Top That" (including a homage starring Alia Shawkat). Drew Grant of Nerve.com stated, "If you've never seen the original rap scene from the 80s classic Teen Witch, you must immediately stop what you're doing and watch it right now. It's everything wonderful and terrible about that decade rolled into one misguided appropriation of what hip-hop." Stephanie Marcus of The Huffington Post, however, called the song "the worst song of all time".
On July 12, 2005, MGM released the film to DVD in its original widescreen theatrical version. In 2007, ABC Family acquired the television rights to the film and has since re-aired it regularly as part of their yearly 13 Nights of Halloween movie specials.
Eleventh Annual Youth in Film Awards 1988-1989
|1989||Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture||Young Artist Awards: Joshua John Miller||Nominated|
|1989||Best Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture||Young Artist Awards: Robyn Lively||Nominated|
By 2006, the careers of some of the creative staff from the film had blossomed. Songwriter Larry Weir established New Music Weekly Magazine; Tom Weir earned a Grammy Award for True Love in 2004. The Weir brothers created Caption Records and collaborated with Teen Witch film producer Alana Lambros for the Teen Witch the Musical project.
Financial backers of Teen Witch had neglected to provide funding for the original soundtrack release, and after a decade and a half, the master audio tapes had become unavailable. The Weir brothers were interested in recreating the now popular songs that Larry Weir had written; Alana Lambros brought her long held view that Teen Witch the Musical was also viable as a Broadway bound production to the project.
In 2007, the audio CD for Teen Witch the Musical was released, a new generation of musically talented actors were cast for the stage-play, which was presented in workshop, but this adaptation never found a larger venue.
The cast of Teen Witch the Musical
- In April 2008, Variety reported that Ashley Tisdale signed with FremantleMedia North America and is in talks with United Artists to star in a remake of Teen Witch.
- Wieselman, Jarett (7 February 2011). "Happy Birthday to the Most Popular Girl". New York Post. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013. "And while everyone born after 1999 thinks of star Robyn Lively as Blake's older sister, those in the know are hep to the fact that Robyn is not only the Most Popular Girl, but also the best/worst dressed witch in the history of teen cinema."
- Stratford, Jennifer Juniper (April 2013). "Off Hollywood - Joshua John Miller". Vice. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- "Weir Brothers Studio: Filmography". Teen Witch (1989). Yahoo.com. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Samson, E. J. (December 18, 2009). "Exclusive: Rachel Antonoff and Alia Shawkat's Teen Witch Video Remake". Teen Vogue. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Steph Beasly (2006-06-15). "Austinist Interviews Teen Witch Songwriter Larry Weir". austinst - Gothamist LLC. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
- Grant, Drew (December 22, 2009). "Top That! Alia Shawkat Does Teen Witch Cover". Nerve.com. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Marcus, Stephanie (January 24, 2013). "'Top That' 'Teen Witch' Rap: Where Are They Now (PHOTOS, VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Dabney, Marisa (22 October 2013). "Listing / Movies". Check Out the Full Schedule for 13 Nights of Halloween. ABC Family News. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. "Teen Witch (12:00 - 2:00 AM ET/PT)"
- "Eleventh Annual Youth in Film Awards 1988-1989". The Young Artist Foundation. 1989. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Harrison, Estelle (21 June 2007). "Caption Anticipates Multimedia Lift". Teen Witch the Musical. Marketwire: Caption Records / Studio City Sound. ""Teen Witch is a phenomenon from the '80s with a huge fan base. We've all been working hard on taking it on the road where it will hopefully reunite its fans, as well as appeal to the same audiences that enjoyed shows such as 'High School Musical' and 'Legally Blonde,'" says Tom Weir, ..."
- "Teen Witch The Reading Finale" (Requires Flash Player). Charles Faris. Retrieved 31 May 2012. "Actor's roles from video of acting workshop"
- "Teen Witch the Musical". ©Caption Records / Studio City Sound. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
- "Ashley Tisdale: From 'High School' to 'Teen Witch'". 2008-04-27.