Oct 27th: Halloweentown High (2004) ☆☆☆☆☆

This uplifting, well-rounded film should have been the canonical end to Halloweentown.

In the final film of dear Kimberly J. Brown’s Halloweentown stint as Marnie, we miss a couple of dear characters like Luke and Sophie (who’s then 12-year-old actress, Emily Roeske, was distancing herself from acting, but still made an appearance), but director Mark A.Z. Dippé whips up a nice addition to the H-town family with a movie much more in tune with Disney’s high-school genre. You can watch it in all it’s grainy glory (why is it somehow grainier than the first film?) on Disney+.

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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+.

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Oct 25th: Halloweentown (1998) ☆☆☆☆☆

Don’t be surprised that this movie has five stars. It’s a freakin’ treasure, okay?

There are few movies from my childhood that hold such a special place in my heart as Halloweentown. Okay, that’s not entirely true (I’m hypersentimental, folks), but the first movie in the Halloweentown series, directed by Duwayne Dunham, is special because it (and, later, Twitches) encompassed all that I wanted from life: to be a secret witch. You can watch this Halloweason classic on Disney+.

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Oct 24th: The Haunted Mansion (2003) ☆☆☆1/2

Who knew that movies based on theme park attractions could be so good?

Sure, it isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean, but Rob Minkoff’s The Haunted Mansion, available on Disney+, makes great use of a simple storyline to generate some kid-friendly scares and give Eddie Murphy some space to be funny and heart-warming (although, arguably, not enough space to make the movie amazing.) Watching it as an adult isn’t nearly as fulfilling as I remember, but I’m still glad Haunted Mansion exists in this world, particularly around Halloween.

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Oct 23rd: ParaNorman (2012) ☆☆☆☆

I love a good underdog story, especially when they can talk to the dead.

This little Laika Studios gem has been a favorite of mine since it first graced Cartoon Network back when I was a teenager. It’s a scary-themed but not frightening film intended for younger audiences, but the story is so well done that adults can enjoy it’s feel-good message of friendship and acceptance easily. My biggest critique of this film, directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler and available on Netflix as of this week, is the seemingly shallow understanding of justified rage vs. bullying. But I’ll get into that.

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