With October coming to an end, what better way to send off the spooky season than with a wistful marathon of Halloween-themed Disney Channel original movies. Watch them alone, grab a buddy or grab a buddy with benefits and nurse that Halloween hangover this weekend by relaxing on the couch and immersing yourself in the nostalgia of when Disney Channel was at its peak. Side note: If the person you’re dating or cuffed with doesn’t remember the classic Disney Channel original movie intro with kids jumping around rolls of film, they are too young for you.
Truly “The Fast and the Furious” franchise of Disney Channel, there are four Halloweentown movies in the series. But if you only have time to watch one, the original is the way to go. If the name doesn’t give a hint, “Halloweentown” revolves around three siblings who learn they are witches and that their grandmother lives in “Halloweentown,” a mystical town where spooky creatures of all kinds live in peace away from mortals. Conflict ensues in the town between those who want to take control of the mortal world and those who wish to remain hidden, making the film essentially a social commentary on class conflict. Of course, it is up to the siblings (who are all 13 or under) to save the day and save the world. Did we mention that the grandmother is iconically played by none other than Debbie Reynolds? Some critics — and by some critics, we mean us — even say this is the best role in her storied career.
How can you not love a film about long-lost twins finding each other? The Halloween version of “The Parent Trap,” “Twitches” revolves around, you guessed it, twin witches. Played by Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley of “Sister, Sister,” the main characters, Alex and Cam, not only find out that they are long-lost twins, they also quickly learn that they have magical powers and need to fight a dark entity aptly named “the Darkness” from ruining life as they know it. Saving the day and the world even though the twins are only 21 when most 21-year-olds barely know how to pay taxes? Check! Some iconic accessories courtesy of overt sun and moon iconography? Check! Some subtle thematic elements from “Hamlet” in a TV movie made for children who most likely don’t know “Hamlet”? Check!
OK, so “Hocus Pocus” isn’t technically a Disney Channel original — it came out as a straight-to-VHS release in 1993, but after both critical and commercial failure, it was relegated to TV airings on Disney Channel and ABC Family where it slowly gained a cult following. And why wouldn’t it? Bette Midler plays a bewitchingly charismatic witch who sings “I Put a Spell on You” while literally putting a spell on people. This is peak cinema people!
Directed by Kenny Ortega of “High School Musical,” the film follows two youngsters in Salem, Massachusetts, as they inadvertently resurrect three villainously charming witches who are determined to suck the youth out of every child in the town to stay young. Is this commentary on how the patriarchal society values feminine youth and beauty, which inadvertently pits women against women? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, “Hocus Pocus” is a must-see in the canon of Disney Channel Halloween films.
So, if your nostalgic nerve was twitching while reading this article or if you are realizing you need to educate your younger significant other on the cinematic history of Disney Channel original movies, then dedicate this weekend to watching (or rewatching) some of the biggest bops from the ghosts of Disney Channel past!