|Written by||Paul Bernbaum
|Directed by||Duwayne Dunham|
Kimberly J. Brown
|Theme music composer||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||84 minutes|
|Original channel||Disney Channel|
|Original release||October 17, 1998|
Halloweentown is a 1998 Disney Channel Original Movie directed by Duwayne Dunham. It is the first installment in the Halloweentown series, and stars Kimberly J. Brown, Debbie Reynolds and Judith Hoag.
The film begins with Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly J. Brown) and her mother, Gwen (Judith Hoag), arguing over why she and her younger siblings Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) and Sophie (Emily Roeske) can never go out for Halloween and Marnie wanting to go to a costume party that the "whole world is going to." Gwen patiently explains, but with no detail, it is little surprise that Marnie still has a problem with her mom's order. Gwen has more or less restored order when her mother Aggie (Debbie Reynolds), who is an expert witch, shows up for her annual Halloween visit. The kids are happier to see Aggie than Gwen is, and it is soon shown why: Aggie openly encourages the kids to get more involved in all things Halloween, and Gwen is nearly powerless to stop her.
Aggie seems especially intent on training Marnie as a witch, since it is Marnie's 13th Halloween. Of course, Marnie has no idea about any of this. Aggie drops a huge hint as she is about to head home: reading the kids a bedtime story called "Halloweentown", Sophie sees a drawing of a witch that closely resembles her big sister, Aggie does nothing to stop Marnie from imagining such a thing. Gwen and Aggie get into an argument about all of this, and Gwen insists Marnie will be raised as a normal person and not a witch. Aggie says she disagrees with this, but actually she is there for another reason: people have suddenly started mysteriously disappearing. Gwen thinks they just moved, but Aggie says it is not that simple. Aggie desperately asks for Gwen's help, but Gwen declines.
Marnie overhears all of the conversation between her mother and grandmother, and so when Aggie leaves to return home, Marnie decides to follow her, with Dylan coming along. They see Aggie getting onto the magical Halloweentown bus, and sneak onto it through the back door. When they arrive in Halloweentown, Aggie does not see Marnie and Dylan getting off the bus. At the same time, Marnie and Dylan do not see Sophie getting off the bus. Dylan notices her, and Marnie asks what she's doing here. Sophie says she was only pretending to sleep; she heard everything Marnie told Dylan, and followed them. They all begin to look for Aggie who they have lost when they are approached by Kalabar (Robin Thomas), the Mayor of Halloweentown. He whistles for the cab which is driven by Benny (voice of Rino Romano), a skeleton with a bad sense of humor. The three siblings find their grandmother's home, and against her better judgment, Aggie decides not to take them home immediately. She says she'll start Marnie's witch training, but has to take care of the bad thing first. She shows her grandchildren what she is talking about: in the cauldron, a vision of a hooded demon appears, laughing maniacally.
In town, Marnie then discovers a broom shop, and the family is introduced to Luke (Phillip Van Dyke), who looks like a normal human kid. He makes a clumsy pass at Marnie, which she turns down on the spot. Benny had earlier explained that Luke was once a Goblin, but claimed a shadow demon made him handsome. Gwen arrives in Halloweentown and catches up to them where she plans to bring her children home much to Marnie's objections. Gwen cannot find another bus back to the mortal world upon being told by a Two-Headed Ticket Person that there isn't one coming. When Gwen tries to see if the mayor can do anything, she is shocked to see that the mayor is Kalabar, who was once her old boyfriend. When Kalabar briefly leaves to handle another problem, Gwen and her kids see Aggie walking somewhere with Luke. Sensing Aggie might be in trouble, they follow Aggie and Luke to an abandoned movie theater.
While in the theater, Aggie comes face-to-face with the hooded figure. When Aggie declines to give him Merlin's talisman, he tries to freeze her. Gwen and the kids enter theater trying to help Aggie. But when the shadow villain attempts to freeze Aggie for a second time, Gwen leaps in front of her and instantly turns petrified. Unfortunately Aggie doesn't make it out of the theater. She gets frozen, and the kids escape untouched. Panicking, Marnie finds the ingredients to make the talisman regain its power. They have to obtain the hair of a werewolf, sweat of a ghost, and a vampire's fang. They are successful, and soon find themselves battling the demon, who reveals himself to be none other than Kalabar himself.
With the help of Luke, who has realized the error of his ways, Marnie slips past Kalabar long enough to climb up onto a large jack-o'-lantern in the center of the town and try to place the talisman inside. Kalabar, finally noticing her, tries to freeze her. Just as she is about to pass out the talisman drops from her hand and lands in the holder inside the jack-o'-lantern, lighting it and unfreezing Aggie and Gwen, as well as all the other Halloweentown citizens whom Kalabar had trapped in the theater. After they wake, Gwen and Aggie rush to the kids to find out what happened. Marnie, Gwen, Aggie, Sophie, and Dylan confront Kalabar and defeat him. The film ends with the family going on to the bus to the mortal world, with a happy goodbye and thanks with Luke as the bus driver, and they blast off. The movie ends with a blackout after they go out unto the sky to the mortal world.
- Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie Piper
- Debbie Reynolds as Splendora Agatha "Aggie" Cromwell
- Judith Hoag as Gwen Cromwell Piper
- Joey Zimmerman as Dylan Piper
- Emily Roeske as Sophie Piper
- Robin Thomas as Kalabar
- Rino Romano as Benny
- Judith M. Ford as Harriet
The film received positive reviews, It has no critic reviews on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, however, it has an audience score of 72%. Complex Magazine put Halloweentown as number nine on their "The 25 Best Disney Channel Original Movies" list. Buzzfeed stated the first three movies are one of the best things about Halloween.