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
|Edited by||Natan Zahavi|
Trans World Entertainment
Teen Witch is a 1989 teen fantasy comedy film starring Robyn Lively and Zelda Rubinstein. It was originally pitched as a female version of the 1985 Teen Wolf, and later reworked into a film of its own, featuring numerous impromptu rap musical numbers. It has become a cult classic, aided by midnight theater showings, regular airings on cable network channels, and on ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween. The film is also popular for its music and 1980s fashion nostalgia.
After a bike accident, the sweet-yet-nerdy 15-year-old Louise Miller (Lively) knocks on the door of a strange-looking house, hoping to use the phone. Instead, she meets a strange but welcoming woman, the seer Madame Serena (Rubinstein). Reading Louise's palm, Serena is stunned when she learns that Louise is a reincarnated witch and an old friend from one of her previous lives. A week later, on Louise's 16th birthday, her magical powers return through a powerful amulet that was lost in a former life, an item that Madame Serena says searches for its owner.
Now that Louise has the power to alter the world around her, she intends to make her dreams come true by casting a spell to win over Brad (Gauthier), the hottest guy in school, without earning his love. With Madame Serena's help, Louise uses her newfound powers to become the most popular girl in school while also getting back at her harassing English teacher, Mr. Weaver (Berman), and the cheerleaders who never respected her. It is only after her popularity spell gets out of hand that Louise realizes that believing in yourself in the true magic in life; in the end, she decides to give up her powers by giving her amulet to Madame Serena, creating her own happy ending in the process.
- Robyn Lively as Louise Miller (credited as Robyn Elaine Lively)
- Zelda Rubinstein as Madame Serena
- Dan Gauthier as Brad Powell
- 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 (credited as Amanda Ingber)
- Tina Caspary as Shawn
- 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 was 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 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 regular re-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 parodies or homages of 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... hip-hop." Stephanie Marcus of The Huffington Post called "Top That" "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 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
|Year||Recipient / Nominated work||Award||Result|
|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 Teen Witch 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: 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 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. This adaptation never found a larger venue.
The cast of Teen Witch the Musical:
- 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.