Back in the day, the thing I looked forward to most about Halloween, other than dressing up in a fancy costume and going trick-or-treating with my friends, was Disney Channel’s annual "Halloweentown" movie marathon. The "Halloweentown" films had a wide appeal with kids, preteens, and even teenagers. But which one is truly the most magical of all?
1. "Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge" (2001)
Sequels, especially Disney sequels, are almost always known for being worse than the original, but surprisingly that’s not the case with the "Halloweentown" franchise. Since the second film didn’t have to establish the world or characters, there was more time for developing a more intense plot full of more magic, more monsters, and even time travel! The threats and stakes feel much higher here, and Kal Jr. is definitely a much more competent villain than his dad. (Plus he may have been more than a few of my friends’ first bad-boy crushes.)
2. "Halloweentown" (1998)
Where the magic began! Even though the special effects are without a doubt the cheesiest and least realistic of the series, the nostalgia of re-watching the Cromwell family explore the whimsical town for the first time, and seeing the giant pumpkin will make you feel like a kid again. Nothing is more fun and festive than those sparkly orange costumes, teenage trolls, and skeleton cab drivers!
3. "Halloweentown High" (2004)
The third installment gets credit for being a much more ambitious movie than the previous two. The formula is totally changed by bringing the Halloweentown citizens to the human world instead of the other way around. With this comes a ton of new creative characters including a shy pink troll girl and a pre-"High School Musical" Lucas Grabeel as a warlock!
Sadly the new villains, the Knights of the Iron Dagger, fall a bit flat and lack the over-the-top evil quality that made both of the Kalabars so entertaining.
4. "Return to Halloweentown" (2006)
Let’s just get the biggest/most obvious complaint out of the way first: THAT’S NOT MARNIE. Now I’m definitely not hating on Sara Paxton, she’s a gorgeous girl and did a decent job in the role, but why recast the main character after eight years of movies? Even kids noticed such an obvious change, and without Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie, the whole film feels disconnected from the others.
Plus, the whole centuries-old prophecy and secret queen plot felt way too complicated and didn’t really have much to do with Halloween.
As October 31 approaches this year, remember there’s no shame in gathering all your friends together, breaking out the bags of candy, and marathoning a few of your old Halloween classics!