Oct 26th: Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001) ☆☆☆☆☆

Is this film really only 80 minutes long? It’s so short and, yet, so satisfyingly full of Halloweeny goodness.

This Halloweentown film is actually one of my favorites. I remembered the most of the action from this one, particularly Gort’s (Blu Mankuma) house where lost things go, and his awesome performance as both normal Gort and Grey Gort. The second film of the honored Halloweentown Universe was directed by Mary Lambert and is available now on Disney+.

After living for two years with her family in the mortal world, Agatha (Debbie Reynolds) is itching to use her powers during a Halloween party at her daughter Gwen’s (Judith Hoag) house. Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown), Dylan (Joey Zimmerman), and Sophie (Emily Roeske) are used to magic and witchery now, though Dylan still retains his penchant for party pooping and Marnie still wants more and more and more.

When new neighbors Kal (Daniel Kountz) and his “father” Alex (Peter Wingfield) show up to the party, Marnie is smitten by Kal’s little baby face and cool black outfit, probably. Unfortunately, nobody asked Kal how he spelled his name, because when he pushes for more information about witches from Marnie, it’s pretty clear that Kal is Kalabar Jr. and not some local Calvin or Caleb. He steals Aggie’s book of spells without Marnie noticing, and then things start going wrong in Halloweentown.

Thankfully, this movie is slightly more complicated than the first so that Dylan and Sophie get some screen time (but Dylan’s costume, a poncho and sombrero (if I remember correctly, as I watched this last night) is inappropriate: remember, folks, culture is not a costume!) while Marnie is gallivanting around Halloweentown with Aggie and goblin-friend Luke (Phillip Van Dyke), who got a slight makeover from the first movie, with a thinner, smaller nose and less wrinkles.

The best part of the movie is when Agatha takes Marnie and Luke to Gort’s house, where lost things go, to look for the second copy of her spell book that was lost years before. Gort, usually a stinky, mean collector of messy junk, has been turned neat and boring by Kal’s grey spell. When Aggie is also taken over by the spell, Marnie and Luke go back in time to find the book from past Gort, and we get to see his messy, colorful junk in all its glory. Somehow, I loved that part. It’s one of the magical things that can really stick with a kid, knowing (or believing) that every little thing I lost would wind up in a pile in Halloweentown. Gort doesn’t really get much screen time, but his part in the movie will always be cool to me.

But the BEST (and worst) thing about this movie is Kal’s face appearing in things. Yes, I forgot that this happened. And it felt like the scene in which Kal’s face appears GIANT on the gray brick cube that has replaced the town jack-o-lantern took ten minutes to play through. It’s hilarious, but it’s supposed to be serious. I can’t stop thinking about Kountz watching that scene after production and cringing his socks off. I hate it and love it at the same time.

Besides getting to explore a little more of Halloweentown and giving the younger Cromwells some limelight, Halloweentown II gives another colorful story about family, good and evil, and the fun of weirdness.

And Halloween is almost here!

Abigail

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