Paige Solomon ’16 & Mimi Walker ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
7. The Scream Team (2002)
With its colorful flying ghosts and underground ghost station, is a slight homage to Beetlejuice in its style. Two siblings, Ian and Claire (Kat Dennings of 2 Broke Girls) move to Steeple Hills where their beloved grandfather has just died. Unfortunately, just as they come across his looming spirit for closure, his soul is kidnapped by a malicious pyromaniac spector named Zachariah Kull. But, when they stumble upon a waiting station where ghosts go through customs to cross over, they enlist the help of the Soul Patrol to get him back. It turns out that Zachariah Kull was wrongly accused of burning his house down and murdering his wife, when in fact he was only drilling for natural gas. His revenge against the town is to take the souls of the recently deceased and drain them to gain power. Kull himself is particularly chilling, with a scratchily intimidating voice and unforsaken force of throwing fire balls. A lurking rival of the grandfather who is exploiting the legend of Kull for his benefit is obnoxiously villainous too. The film’s humor is aided by the Soul Patrol, consisting of a bedraggled pirate ghost (Eric Idle), a high strung skydiver and a bitchy receptionist (Kathy Najimy) who are just waiting for their turn to enter the next world.
6. Mom’s Got a Date With A Vampire (2000)
The film plays like a Parent Trap scenario gone horribly wrong. Two siblings, Adam and Chelsea, get grounded on a night that equals crucial social opportunity; Adam wants to go to a concert and Chelsea wants to gaze longingly into her boyfriend’s eyes. They devise a plan to get their single mom (played by Caroline Rhea, aka Hilda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch) out of the house that night: they set her up with a dashing stranger called Dmitri at a supermarket to go out on a date. Unfortunately, a third sibling, Taylor, sees this smooth talker magically turn into a bat and is convinced that he is a preying vampire. Throughout the film, the siblings patch together holes in Dmitri’s mannerisms that lead up to an amusing and suspenseful confrontation. The film is kooky and caters to the preteen era. Caroline Rhea always brings good levity, but Dmitri (played by Charles Shaughnessy, aka Mr. Sheffield in The Nanny) is surprisingly freaky with his oily demeanor and cold British deadpanning. The film gets bonus points for Robert Carradine’s (aka Lizzie McGuire’s dad) performance as a sharpshooting vampire hunter. Spooky highlights include the bat transformation scene, Dmitri walking sideways up a brick wall, a blurry attack on the vampire hunter, and a controversial scene of a hungry Dmitri sizing up a dog to possibly eat (a scene so bizzare that it has since been cut out of recent TV airings).
5. Phantom of the Megaplex (2000)
The film is about Peter Riley, the assistant manager at a local movie theatre. He must prepare the theatre for the big premiere of “Midnight Mayhem,” where the owner of the megaplex will be in attendance. Struggling to juggle his younger siblings (who he has to take care of because his mother had a date), his girlfriend and her friend, and a phantom that is causing chaos throughout the theatre; Peter must find a way to get everything in order before the big premiere. Phantom of the Megaplex has all your common Disney Channel Movie problems and themes, which makes it a great movie that the whole family can enjoy.
4. Under Wraps (1997)
This film follows the story of three pre-teens that have a run-in with a mummy brought back to life. After having taken in the mummy and befriending him, Gilbert, Marshall and Amy learn that the mummy must be returned to his resting place before midnight on Halloween or he turns to dust. From the clothes to the fact that the kids named the mummy ‘Harold,’ to a storyline that kids and mummies can be friends, this movie is 90’s Disney Channel in a nutshell. Played by Bill Fagerbakke (the voice of Patrick Star from Spongebob), the lovable mummy is quirky and kid friendly, making this is a lighter Disney Channel Halloween movie that kids of all ages can enjoy.
3. Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)
Its themes are modeled somewhat like a children’s psychological thriller. The film is centered around a straitlaced every-girl named Frances, who is the witness to several supernatural occurrences in her hometown that are portrayed as school pranks. She becomes the center of hostility in her hometown as the main suspect, but with the help of her little brother Darwin’s imaginary friend, she discovers the origins of the malevolent Boogeyman coming back to stalk her. This film is definitely one of the darkest in DCOM history, with with scarier scenes depicting kids stuck in a gelatin-filled pool, dolls with turning heads, temperamental transformation scenes and a climatic portrayal of the Boogeyman dangling Darwin over a steep cliff in the rotten under-the-bed world. The Boogeyman is unnerving, with long nails, sunken skin and crazed yellow pupils. However, it relates a fairly relevant theme: keep a childlike nature to a degree. As it turns out, the Boogeyman was Frances’ old imaginary friend who was converted to dark forces when Frances pushed away her sense of imagination too soon. This film was the first DCOM to be rated PG, but even with the more adult theme and gritty tone, it is one that we can appreciate even more as young kids like us make a similar transition.
2. Tower of Terror (1997)
An interesting but nevertheless petrifying foray into black magic, revenge and tragedy. Little Sally Shine, her nanny, a bellhop, a singer and her boyfriend disappear on Halloween 1939 at the Hollywood Tower Hotel whilst riding an elevator to a party and presumably were killed. A cheap tabloid reporter who fabricates his stories finally has a chance at a real lede when a mysterious old woman gives first hand information claiming the nanny selfishly disposed of the child actress in a spell gone wrong. When the reporter’s niece (played by Kirsten Dunst) goes on mission with her uncle, she meets the ghosts on location and eventually it is discovered that the old woman is a mental hospital escapee who wants to finish what she started on her little sister. Extreme sibling rivalry aside, this movie’s approach is less-is-more, with horrifying cutaway scenes with black silhouettes dancing in green light, headless ghosts with cleavers, creepy children’s music and a disturbing look at an old woman’s crazed psyche.
1. Halloweentown (1998)
A classic. This movie is about Marnie, a 13-year-old girl that finds out that her family has some extraordinary qualities. Having fought with her mother over going out on Halloween night, Marnie’s grandmother, Aggie, shows up visit her family and discuss with Marnie’s mother that she needs to teach Marnie how to be a witch because this is her last year before she loses all her powers. After overhearing this information and following Aggie onto a suspicious bus, Maggie, along with her two siblings (Dylan and Sophie), end up in Halloweentown. Aggie informs Marnie that there is a dark force that is causing the disappearances of Halloweentown citizens. With that being known, Aggie begins to train Marnie so she knows how to use her powers, but once Marnie’s mom shows up, Marnie and Aggie must overcome obstacles so that they can defeat the dark forces that are tampering with the town. With an angsty teenager that seems to always be fighting with her mom, a nosy little sister, a witch for a grandmother, and a handful of mysterious disappearances in Halloweentown, what’s not to love about this movie?