Thirteen-year old Marnie Piper (Kimberly Brown) has always been fascinated by the strange and unusual, but for some reason her mother, Gwen (Judith Hoag), disapproves. Marnie would love to go out for Halloween, but her mother makes her and her siblings Sophie (Emily Roeske) and Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) stay home every year. Her only explanation is that "there are things about Halloween you don't understand."
Then Marnie's grandmother Agatha (Debbie Reynolds
) shows up, and reads Marnie and her siblings a book titled Halloweentown
. Marnie is entranced by the thoughts of Halloweentown. Later, Marnie sneaks downstairs to overhear her mom and grandmother discussing Marnie's future. Grandma Aggie wants to train Marnie as a witch; Gwen wants nothing of the sort. Grandma Aggie also says something is wrong in Halloweentown, and that she could use Gwen's help, but Gwen refuses to help.
Eager at the thoughts of being trained as a witch, Marnie follows Grandma Aggie back to Halloweentown... and so do Sophie and Dylan. There, they must stop the evil Kalabar from taking over Halloweentown.
So far, three sequels have been made: Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Halloweentown High
and Return to Halloweentown
Not to be confused with the setting of The Nightmare Before Christmas
This film quadrology has examples of:
- Academy of Adventure: Witch College in Return to Halloweentown has a conspiracy and magical relics.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Scarlet, Sage, and Sapphire.
- Aesop Amnesia: Gwen, could you please make up your mind whether you like magic now or not? This is lampshaded when Gwen uses magic for a trivial thing in the third movie (as opposed to in emergencies, which is what she did in the previous two movies), and remarks "Remind me why I don't like magic again?"
- Alpha Bitch: Three in Return To Halloweentown - Scarlet, Sage, and Sapphire.
- Ambiguously Gay: The werewolf barber in the first movie has an effeminate manner and tone of voice but he is never seen to be attracted to men.
- Another Dimension: Halloweentown is located in one because it was either relocate or go to war with the humans.
- Artifact of Doom: The Macguffin from the fourth movie is not inherently evil, but you know what they say about absolute power.
- Artistic License – History: In Halloweentown High, Grandma Aggie says that William Shakespeare offered her a role in the original production of one of his plays. In Shakespeare's day, there were no female actors - all of the roles were played by men.
- Ascended Extra: A mild version. Ethan (Lucas Grabeel) was a warlock in Halloweentown High who was more of a rival for Marnie (but wasn't on screen any more than any other magical creature), but in the fourth movie, he becomes a love interest for Marnie, probably due to Lucas Grabeel's starring role in High School Musical.
- Badass Family: According to Aggie, the Cromwells (that is, Marnie's maternal family line) have been the most powerful witch clan since the beginning of time. Considering their actions in the first film, the second film, the Big Bad's eagerness to take their powers in the third film, and Aggie herself sitting as the ruler of Halloween town in the fourth film, she wasn't exagerating.
- Bag of Holding: Grandma Aggie's carpet bag is Bigger on the Inside.
- Becoming the Costume: The Evil Plan in the second movie.
"With this spell I shall avenge their cruel joke at our expense.... Change them into the creature whose guise they have taken!
- Better as Friends: Dylan and Natalie. He found her true form to be strange while where she's from she's beautiful and it lead to a cultural spat.
- Beyond the Impossible: For the first and second movie the rule has been iron clad: The door between worlds is only open on Halloween. It will close at midnight and CANNOT be opened until the next year. Marti thinks otherwise and justifies it with this speech:
"The portal wasn't always there; it was created by magic and no one's magic is stronger than ours!"
- Bigger on the Inside: Grandma Aggie's bag.
- Butt Monkey: Dylan. His sisters give him grief, odd things happen to him, and the alpha bitch trio treat him like a slave.
- Broken Masquerade: Originally, Halloweentown was created to keep supernatural creatures safe from humans. At the end of the third film, humans (or at least the students and faculty at Marnie's school) find out about Halloweentown and its inhabitants. In the fourth film, it's stated that some of Halloweentown's citizens are going to college on Earth.
- Brother Chuck: Luke was never seen or mentioned after the second film. It's really striking since given his age he could've easily been featured in the third movie or given a mention.
- Cheerful Child: Sophie, contrasting with Dylan's cynicism.
- Chromatic Arrangement: Scarlet, Sage, and Sapphire in Return to Halloweentown.
- Conflict Ball: Gwen, Gwen, Gwen, why do you hate magic so? Why would it be so terrible if Marnie went out trick-or-treating?
- Conspicuous CG: The handbag in the third movie
- Continuity Nod: In the second film, there's a bottle of werewolf hair in Grandma Aggie's room. Marnie says that getting it "wasn't easy."
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Mainly in the third film, where everyone has a different color of magic. Marnie's is blue, Grandma Aggie's is pink, and of course, the Big Bad's is red.
- Cool Gate: The portal to Halloweentown looks like the entrance to a medieval castle.
- Crystal Ball: Grandma Aggie uses one to see how things are going in Halloweentown in Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge.
- Cute Monster Girl: There are a few such as a troll.
- Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: Only a Cromwell Witch can use the Gift. Splendora doesn't want the Gift and fully intends to destroy it, but she's incapable of doing it herself because it takes 3 Cromwells to destroy the Gift, so she buries it. 1000 years later, Marnie inherits the Gift, but on Splendora's wishes she, Dylan and Gwen destroy it together. This trope is discussed when one of Marnie's friends doesn't believe she would have actually destroyed the Gift, but would secretly give it to someone she trusts.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dylan regularly snarks at his sisters about magic or some other zany scheme.
- Defanged Horrors: Most werewolves are vegetarian and vampires are just as squeamish at the dentist as everyone else.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Grandma Aggie in Return to Halloweentown, though a younger version of the character does factor into the plot.
- Sophie in Halloweentown High.
- Does Not Like Magic: Gwen and Dylan.
- Gwen because she admired her muggle husband for getting by without magic. Eventually she gets over it.
- Dylan because he likes pretending he is a muggle. Eventually he gets over it and uses magic to read faster.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: Splendora hates her first name. She eventually decides to go by her middle name, Agatha/Aggie.
- The End... Or Is It?: Return to Halloweentown ends this way. The ending reveals that Marnie didn't destroy the Gift, which Dylan finds in one of his books. Dylan, knowing full well what will happen if he takes it, immediately closes the book and shoves it back onto the shelf. There, it's revealed that the book has the Sinister Clan's symbol on its binding, which glows ominously before cutting to the credits.
- Eternal English: The Halloween town of from 1,000 years pre-series uses the same kind of english as present.
- Evil Is Hammy: Kalabar in the first film, his son in the second and the Silias Sinister in the fourth.
- Evil Plan: Kalibar in the first film, his son in the second, the Dominion in the third and fourth films. All of them except the second were Take Over the World plans; that one was Revenge.
- Eye of Newt: The potion used to power the talisman used to get rid of the Big Bad in the first film requires the hair of a werewolf, a vampire's fang, and a drop of ghost sweat.
- Fantastic Racism: Mostly in Halloweentown High where The Knight threatens the Halloween Town exchange students.
- Fantasy Counterpart Appliance: The second film had "skull phones" which worked exactly like interdimensional walkie-talkies.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Dylan in the first movie refuses to believe in witches, ghosts, werewolves, and the like, even when he's in Halloweentown, and insists he's dreaming. He gets better in the next film.
- Flying Broomstick: sold by a zombie who talks like Elvis. There are different molds from the classic broomstick to something that looks like a motorcycle without wheels.
- Foreign Queasine: A reference is made to maggot cookies in Halloweentown High, and the college cafeteria serves some rather odd-looking dishes in Return To Halloweentown.
- Geeky Turn-On: In the third movie, Dylan and Natalie bond over their AP classes. His glasses fog up when she gets a high score on his favorite arcade game.
- In the fourth movie, he is interested in Scarlet Sinister not just for her looks, but also because she speaks Latin the first time he meets her.
- Golem: One made of frogs, no less. Until he's disassembled, he appears to be a normal human.
- Halloween Town: Natch.
- Heel-Face Turn: Luke in the first film and the school principal in the third.
- Hollywood Nerd: In the first film, Dylan says he doesn't understand why anyone would go trick or treating, when there's a perfectly good nature documentary on TV...
- Homage: In Return To Halloweentown, Marnie tries various methods to open a locked box, including wiggling her nose and crossing her arms and nodding her head.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: As seen in the fist movie, this is how Gwen wants her family to be and tries to prevent Aggie from training Marnie as a witch like her. Only Dylan agrees with her and even he uses magic sometimes.
- Identical Grandson: Marnie looks just like her grandmother when she was young.
- Incoming Ham: Kalbar loves making a Big Entrance.
- Kid from the Future: Marnie goes back in time and meets a young Grandma Aggie.
- Knight Templar: The Knights of the Iron Dagger were created solely to exterminate magical creatures for the purpose of protecting humans. One of them raises a ruckus in the third film.
- Last-Second Chance: Marnie offers one to Kal in the second movie by telling him that he doesn't have to let his father's hatred determine his decisions. Predictably, he refuses and Marnie foils his Evil Plan. However, she doesn't kill him because he escapes.
- Made-for-TV Movie: All have premiered on the Disney Channel. The original was such a surprise hit that it started off the "Movie-a-Month" series that the channel ran for several years.
- Magical Foreign Words: The spell used to bring the talisman to life is a stanza from a medieval welsh poem.
- Magic Mirror: Witches can use any reflective surface to communicate with each other. Also, witches' mirrors (which are usually used for communication) can be used to imprison people.
- Masquerade: Halloweentown is kept a secret from humans until the end of the third film.
- More Than Mind Control: The aforementioned Libbys use magic to enhance Dylan's infatuation with them in the fourth film, making him into their veritable slave.
- Mundane Utility: Dylan only uses magic for one thing: speed-reading.
- Mythology Gag:
- The title for Return to Halloweentown was based on the original name of the script for Halloweentown II.
- In the first Halloweentown movie, Aggie mentions that she installed the Halloweentown Pumpkin herself. In "Return to Halloweentown," after Marnie goes back in time and meets her grandmother, she tells her that she's got something Aggie will need...and summons up the Pumpkin. When Marnie leaves, Aggie calmly asks the guards to take the Pumpkin outside
- Nay-Theist: Gwen and Dylan fully believe in, and are capable of, magic but neither of them likes it. Both waffle in and out of a love/hate relationship with it.
- Never Trust a Title: Kalabar doesn't appear in Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge. His son, Kal, is the villain. Halloweentown High is actually about a bunch of kids from Halloweentown temporarily enrolling in a human school, not the other way around. In fact, Halloweentown is not shown at all in the third movie. Not once.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Marnie. In the first movie she excidetly asks if the spell her grandmother will cast will "bring forth the powers of darkness?" When Aggie says it won't, Marnie is visibly dissapointed.
- Obviously Evil: The villain from the first film is a ghoul in a black robe. Subverted in that it's only a costume being worn by the town's mayor, Kalabar, who does not seem Obviously Evil at first glance.
- The Ogre: Chester in Halloweentown High is one of these.
- The Other Darrin: Marnie's actress was replaced in the fourth movie.
- Our Monsters Are Different: All over the place; in particular they're usually Lighter and Softer.
- Our Elves Are Better: Astrid, an elf from the second movie, looks and acts pretty human, except for the obligatory ears. She dresses in bright, whimsical outfits and is constantly upbeat.
- Our Fairies Are Different: A human-sized one with wings appears in the last movie. One of the kids in the third movie looks like a tiny, glowing fairy, but is apparently a wood nymph.
- Our Genies Are Different: In the fourth movie, one of the college students is a genie who lives in a lamp, but it doesn't appear that she's obligated to grant wishes to anyone. When her lamp is destroyed, Marnie offers to share her dorm with her.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: For one, they can sweat and lose weight. Dylan Lampshades how little sense this makes.
- Our Goblins Are Different: They're pretty human-looking, though pretty ugly. (Oddly, Luke seems to consider himself ugly, even though most other monsters don't use a human standard for appearances.) One goblin in the last movie has a name made up of burps and snorts and drools a lot.
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Actually, they seem pretty indifferent to food. Gort from the second movie looks basically like a Scary Black Man with pointy ears; Chester from the third has bright blue skin.
- All Trolls Are Different: Natalie the troll in Halloweentown High has bright pink skin, a lot of pink hair, and a kind of large nose. Other than that, she looks pretty human.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: They seem to be permanently in "wolfman" form rather than transforming back and forth; also, most are vegetarians.
- Progressively Prettier: In the first film, Luke was not an attractive goblin. In the second film, his prosthetics were toned down drastically; ostensibly to keep him the Ship Tease with Marnie believable.
- Put on a Bus: Sophie is on an adventure of some sort in Return to Halloweentown.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: In Return To Halloweentown Splendora and Marnie both wear elaborate royal dresses and a crown. The latter insists upon it.
- Retcon: Ethan's father was portrayed as a standalone Big Bad in the third movie, but the fourth movie had Ethan claiming that he was a part of that film's council of villains, the Dominion.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Mostly robes, but Marnie wears a robe and hat in the second movie.
- San Dimas Time: In the second movie, they have to rush back to the present before the portal between the worlds closes! ...Except they could just travel back a few minutes or even hours earlier and stop the villain before he started his Evil Plan...
- Ship Tease: Marnie and Luke in the first two films, Dylan and Natalie in the third.
- Spell Book: Grandma Aggie has one.
- Spell My Name with an "S": In the credits and closed captions of the first film, Kalabar's name was spelled "Calabar". The second film changed the C to a K, and IMDb lists the character as "Kalabar". It's speculated by many fans that the reasoning for spelling the sequel's title with a 'K' rather than a 'C' is because the person giving the 'revenge' isn't actually Calabar... it was Kal (possibly short for Kalabar with a 'K'). Either that, or it's just Fan Wank.
- Stable Time Loop: In the fourth film, Marnie goes to the past to get a missing key from Splendora. She gives the key to Marnie, explaining why it was missing. While there Marnie also creates the magic pumpkin.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Professor Perrywinkle for Grandma Aggie; both of them old, affable, grandmotherly old ladies that take a shine to Marnie.
- They Look Like Us Now: In the third movie, the monster exchange students wear human suits to avoid stares.
- Time Travel:
- Up the Real Rabbit Hole: Marnie refers to her home dimension, where the muggles live, as the "real world" in the second film. This is despite the fact that she prefers Halloween Town.
- Villainous Breakdown: Kal in the second film looses his cool when his spell is broken, rants about his superiority, and devolves into screams of frustration.
- His father also had one briefly in the first movie when he bemoans the fact that Gwen chose a mortal man over him, the most powerful sorcerer in Halloween Town. You can tell this really gets to him because this breakdown is actually quiet and subdued, in stark contrast to his usual evil demeanor.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Kalabar, although he was never revealed as the villain until the movie's climax.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Sophie in Halloweentown High. She was in the beginning of the film, but when the three left for school, she appeared in maybe one other scene. She didn't even get to do any magic or get involved with the fact that her family's powers could be taken away.
- Witch Species: Witch powers are passed from parent to child and they live much longer than non-powered humans.
- Wizards Live Longer: Unless they've had their powers removed. How long do they live? Grandma Aggie was a young woman 1,000 years ago.
- Wolf Man: In the first movie, a werewolf works as a barber. In the third, one of the transfer students from Halloweentown is a werewolf.