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The Halloweentown movies

Tim Burton’s very first job out of film school was for the Walt Disney Company. His first two projects were shorts: Frankenweenie (about a boy who re-animates his little pet dog after it’s hit by a car, using spare parts from the pet cemetery) and The Boy Who Liked Vincent Price (narrated by Price himself). Disney didn’t know what to do with the shorts, though they won awards at some film festivals. Tim’s first feature-length script was for The Nightmare Before Christmas, about the denizens of Halloweentown who decide to take over Christmas and run the holiday like Halloween. The people at Disney didn’t know what to make of the strange story from Burton and didn’t renew his contract. But don't think Disney hates Tim; every Halloween season the Disney park lets Nightmare Before Halloween's characters take over its Haunted Mansion attraction. In 2007, Disney even re-released "Nightmare Before Christmas" in theaters for the month of October in digital 3-d. Tim made the movie at another studio, but Disney evidently liked the basic idea of people living in a fictional "Halloweentown" because they eventually made four movies, with a fifth being planned:

Halloweentown (1998)

Being normal is vastly overrated

movie poster On her 13th birthday, Marny Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) finds out she's a witch after her grandmother Aggie Cromwell (Debbie Reynolds) visits on Halloween night, and now she's starting to get her powers just like her Mom and grandma. Her mother doesn't want her to use them or even have them, so she tries to keep the fact that the family are witches a secret from the kids. But later that same night Marny, Dylan and Sophie stowaway on the bus to Halloweentown with Grandma, the magical burg where the family used to live before moving to the human world and where witches, goblins, vampires, and the like lead very normal lives. But then an ugly creature known only as The Evil freezes mother and grandma, because he wants a talisman to complete his control over Halloweentown. The kids battle The Evil by themselves. After getting together the items needed for reenergize the talisman, the Evil turns out to be Calibar, the mayor (and mother’s ex-boyfriend). Marnie places the talisman in a magic pumpkin, which then defeats Calibar and restores everyone. Calibar retrieves the talisman, so the whole family combines their power to defeat him. TV Guide classifies this 1st one as a comedy. About the closest it gets to scary is when a skeleton cab driver tries to kidnap Dylan and when Calibar attacks several people with balls of energy. The sequels are classified by TV Guide as scifi/fantasy.
Additional Cast:
Joey Zimmerman: Dylan Piper
Emily Marie Roeske: Sophie Cromwell
Phillip Glenn Van Dyke: Luke
Shannon Day: Aerobics Instructor
Judith Hoag: Gwen Piper
These are the most recent movies of Debbie Reynolds, who survived the sinking of the Titanic in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (a musical that included “Belly Up To The Bar Boys”) and got her start “Singin’ In The Rain”. She doesn’t sing any witchy songs as far as I know in this one. I'm not sure cause it was on the same videotape as Casper The Friendly Ghost and Joe Bob “accidentally” erased it last Superbowl Sunday.

Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001)

Set one year after Marnie and her two sibling had saved halloweentown from the evil Calabar (though actually released 3 years later), Marnie now finds herself facing Calabar's son Kal, who arrives to avenge dad's death by turning Halloweentown into a dark gloomy place. Not only that, Kal plans to turn all the humans into the creatures they are pretending to be with their costumes (there was also an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in which everyone was turned into their Halloween night costume characters). So the 2 witches must stop him from permanently transforming trick-or-treaters into their costume characters
movie poster Additional new cast:
Blu Mankuma - Gort description:
Grandmother Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) sweeps Marnie and Sophie off to Halloweentown to investigate a series of strange occurrences. When they arrive, the vibrant community seems to have lost its magic. The citizens, including the gargoyles, are gray and boring. It isn't long before Aggie discovers that her spell book is stolen and the trio decides to set out to find it. They discover that an angry warlock has taken the book and plans to permanently turn every human into whatever costume they are wearing at midnight on Halloween. It's a race against time, as Marnie must use her skills to defeat the young warlock threatening to change Halloweentown for eternity.

Halloweentown High (2004)

(working title was Halloweentown 3, release date October 2004)
This is Disney Channel's 2nd Original Movie to turn into a trilogy, the first was the Zenon films set in the mid 21st century (Xenon: Z4 came out in 2008).
Marnie asks the Halloweentown Council to keep the portal open between Halloweentown and the human world she opened, and to allow Halloweentown's students to visit her high school to learn more about the human world. What Marnie doesn't know is that she unintentionally agreed to give up her magical powers if any harm comes to her Halloweentown visitors on the human side. When strange things begin to happen, Marnie suspects someone is trying to sabotage the effort. Filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah
Additional Cast:
Clifton Davis: Principal Flannigan
Finn Wittrock: Cody Trainer
Michael Flynn: Dalloway
Todd M. Swartzman: Pete the Werewolf

movie poster Official press release from °o°:
In the third installment of the popular "Halloweentown" movies, the portal has been opened, much to the chagrin of some in Halloweentown, so Marnie sets up a sort of exchange program bringing a group of Halloweentown students to attend her human high school. She inadvertently bets the Cromwell magic that no harm will come to the students and when strange things start happening, Marnie and her family must get to the bottom of things and protect the students from the legendary Knights of the Iron Dagger -- at the same time, save their own powers. Halloweentown High premiered October 8, 2004. A fourth Halloweentown movie premiered on the Disney Channel in 2006, and a fifth will be called "Halloweentown 5: She's The Witch" (title subject to change)

Return To Halloweentown (2006)

Marnie Piper begins attendance at Witch University, also known as Witch U. Her new friend Aneesa (Summer Bishil) helps her foil this installment's troublesome plot development. "Against her mother’s wishes, Marnie chooses to attend Halloweentown’s Witch U, where she hopes to embrace her identity as a witch. But the college is not what she expected – magic is forbidden on campus, her brother Dylan is also attending the school, and a trio of wicked sisters are making her life miserable. And to make matters worse, an ancient prophecy makes Marnie the target of an evil conspiracy that could change her life, and the world, forever."
With the huge success of High School Musical (over 7,000,000 viewers on Disney Channel, a record), Halloweentown 4 was rumored to be a musical with all your favorite Halloweentown characters, including Lucas Grabeel (as Ethan Dalloway) in a leading role By the way, High School Musical 2 finished in the ratings ahead of network-TV programs for that week, so Disney plans to release High School Musical 3 in theaters first). Directed by David Jackson, who denied it would be a musical when asked by So why didn't they let Debbie Reynolds (Agatha Cromwell) sing and dance through the first three? When she makes an appearance at the Witch U. dorm she may seem a bit absent-minded, but she knows more about the importance of the 1000th anniversary than anyone there thinks
Working titles were "Halloweentown 4" and "Witch University." Filmed in Utah. Sarah Paxton most recently was in the teenage-mermaid movie Aquamarine. Paxton replaced Kimberly Brown as Marnie due to Brown's filming conflicts with her upcoming film, Big Bad Wolf. Since Sara is blonde, she had to dye her hair brown to look more like Marnie (Brown is naturally brown). An official movie poster for Return to Halloweentown can be seen back in the Oct. 2006 issue of Disney Adventures magazine.
Return To Halloweentown seems to have been influenced by some of Harry Potter's hogwarts!
movie poster Additional cast:
Sarah Paxton (Marnie)
Julie Hoag (Mom, Gwen Piper)
Christopher Miller (Troll)
Summer Bishil (Aneesa the Genie)
Katie & Kellie Cockrell (Sage & Saphire Sinister)
Robin De Santis (Fairy)
Darren Ewing (Morose Cashier)
Kristy Wu (Scarlett Sinister)
Dan Young (Dominion)
Joey Zimmerman (Dylan Piper)
Eliza Wren appears in her first credited role here, her previous film this year was "I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer" (3rd in the infamous slasher series, in an uncredited role)
Return To Halloweentown official website is at
First air date: Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 (originally Friday the 13th, but pushed ahead one week to avoid confusion with that other movie series)

90-second ad for Return to Halloweentown (click center to play clip)

Debbie Reynolds broadcasts this week:

12/28/2016 Debbie Reynolds (84) suffered a stroke and died one day after her daughter 
           Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), her final words "I Want to Be with Carrie"
Debbie Reynolds scifi/horror or fantasy in the year 2007:

"Affairs of Dobie Gillis" (1953, with Bobby Van, Hans Conried)
Wed  Sep 26  10am/1:00pm EST on Turner Classic Movies

"Bundle of Joy" (1956, salesgirl finds herself with an abandoned infant assumed to be hers)
Dec, 2006 on Turner Classic Movies

"Charlotte's Web" (1973, animated fantasy, starring voice)
(not currently scheduled)

"Goodbye Charlie" (1964, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau)
A woman-chasing playboy is shot by an irate husband and reincarnated as a female (Debbie)
Thu  Sep 20  11am/2pm EST on Fox Movie Channel

"Halloweentown" movies (see above)
October various times on Disney Channel 

"The Second Time Around" (1961 comedy, Debbie's sheriff of a wild and woolly Arizona town)
Wed  Mar 28  11:15A &  1:00A on Encore's Movie Plex
Wed  Jun 27  05:40A on Encore Love Stories
Mon  Aug  6  09:00A & 11:05P on Encore Western

"Singin' in the Rain" (1952, set in 1920s, Debbie does singing for star with horrible voice)
Sun  Jul 29  5pm/8pm EST on Turner Classic Movies

"Susan Slept Here" (1954, writer gets involved with a juvenile delinquent & a sophisticate)
Dec 25, 2006  on Turner Classic Movies

"Tammy and the Bachelor" (1957, bayou girl gets romantically involved, Oscar-nominated song)
Oct 16, 2006  on American Movie Classics

"The Tender Trap" (1955 musical/comedy, as actress out to hook bachelor Frank Sinatra)
Sun  Apr  1  on Turner Classic Movies

Debbie Reynolds profile "Life & Times" (60 min)
Wed  May  9  on Biography Channel

Carrie Fisher profile "Life & Times" 
With comments from parents Debbie Reynolds & Eddie Fisher (60 min, 2002)
Wed  May 16  on Biography Channel

Private Screenings: Debbie Reynolds (2002 interview)
Thu  May  3  on Turner Classic Movies
Her most recent TV-movie: Behind the Candelabra (2013), about the life of celebrated pianist Liberace. Costars Michael Douglas as Liberace, with Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd and Scott Bakula. Originally announced by HBO Original Productions in 2008, filming had to be delayed after Michael Douglas began treatment for stage IV throat cancer in 2010
Debbie Reynolds on time-travel in movies (I thought "The Time Traveler's Wife" was boring too, and thanx for the warning about Owen Wilson's movie)
The three Halloweentown movies don’t have much to do with Tim Burton’s original idea. But then again, Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch didn’t have much to do with John Carpenter’s other Halloween movies.

Doc Hudson is the Hudson Hornet
If anyone asks, I was smashin' mailboxes with Lightning McQueen

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Official website:, charity: The Thalians Guidance Clinic for Emotionally Disturbed Children

What to do when zombies attack (1950s spoof)
© Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. Just singing & dancing in the rain

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