Film / When Good Ghouls Go Bad

A 2001 Halloween Made-for-TV Movie by Goosebumps author, R. L. Stine and notable for starring Christopher Lloyd.

Danny Walker has moved into a small town known as Walker Falls with his father, James, who hopes to start a business on chocolate. The town however doesn't seem to like Halloween as they haven't celebrated it in quite some time, with the exception of Danny's grandfather, Uncle Fred, an eccentric sort who likes doing things that most adults would consider childish (playing with toys, dressing up in silly outfits, etc). Danny soon learns why the people shun Halloween due to a "curse" by someone named Curtis Danko, an artist outcast who liked to paint monsters. Curtis mysteriously died when he went into the kiln while making a sculpture for a contest and it turned on with him inside. Mike Kankel, one of the people who really opposes Halloween, apparently saw the sculpture himself and was blinded by it. The town's been in fear of Halloween since.

However this particular year brings a slight change, starting when a pile of pumpkins mysteriously appear in the Town Square. However Uncle Fred, while investigating the pumpkins, accidentally sends the whole pile falling on him, killing him in the process. But the next day he reappears in his house still alive...somewhat. He's somehow come back as a zombie, and he isn't the only one resurrected as well.

It soon falls on Danny, his love interest, Dyna, James and Uncle Fred to figure out what's going on before the whole town is overrun by zombies.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad has the following tropes:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Outside of his family, Danny is not liked by anyone in Walker Falls. He has that in common with Curtis Danko, who was an eccentric goth with a passion for art.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Happens to Uncle Fred a few times after he turns into a zombie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The town, upon knowing the truth behind the kiln incident and that the Curtis Danko curse is bunk, resume celebrating Halloween. However Uncle Fred, being a zombie, has to pass on with the others.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Curtis Danko turns out to be this. He was actually nice guy who admired Uncle Fred and made a statue in his honor. However, the Jerk Jock in his school accidentally got him killed and tried covering it up.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The finale sees the zombies doing this, ballroom-style before they wither to dust.
  • Deadly Prank: The real truth behind the kiln incident was that Curtis had ran into the kiln to hide from Mike and his fellow bullies. They locked him inside, intending to release him later. But the janitor happened to come back and accidentally turned the kiln on, wearing headphones so he couldn't hear anything, burning Curtis alive.
  • Ear Ache: When Mike Kankel's zombie father shows up to punish him. He drags away Mike like this (the "like a naughty child" version).
  • Evil Is Petty: Mike Kankel admits that he scared the townspeople into not celebrating Halloween when he saw Curtis's statue which was of Uncle Fred, who had given donations to the school's art and music programs and was loved by the town children, largely out of spite and jealousy when he wouldn't give them money to build a football theme park.
  • Eye Scream: What Mike claimed happened when he saw the "cursed" statue of Curtis. He's lying, the statue was normal and he covered his eyes in soot to make it seem like his eyes were scorched.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Curtis's especially when it revealed how he truly died.
  • Freak Out!: Danny several times, most notably when he finds that his deceased grandmother is supervising the zombie uprising.
    • Mike upon seeing Uncle Fred "alive" not shortly after his funeral.
  • Ghostly Goals: Danny and Dana figure that Curtis Danko and his army of zombies want to reclaim his stolen statue and punish the townspeople. As it turns out, what he really wants is to show them his art project and expose Kankel's lie.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Curtis Danko has these via a pair of magic fireflies.
  • The Hermit: After what happened, Uncle Fred shuts down the factory and becomes a recluse.
  • Hero Worship: Of sorts. The contest involved students making a statue based off their personal hero. Curtis's was of Uncle Fred while Mike did his of his father.
  • It's All About Me: Mike would rather ruin Halloween for Walker Falls, damage the reputation of a kind and respected town figure, and let the town fall into the hands of zombies than admit that he let an innocent student die in a kiln and that he didn't get a football-based amusement park.
  • It's All My Fault: Uncle Fred blames himself for the death of Curtis Danko because he donated the kiln the boy died in.
  • Jerk Jock: Mike Kankel, as well as his son Ryan.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: Because it was Uncle Fred who donated the kiln that killed Curtis Danko and started the alleged curse, the entire Walker line has been shunned by the entire town.
  • Manchild:
    • Uncle Fred, despite being Danny's grandfather, is full of childlike playfulness and a love for pranks.
    • Mike is pretty much all the clichés of a high school football-playing bully in a grown man's body. It seems that keeping the truth about Curtis Danko's curse buried taxed him mentally and emotionally.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Curtis Danko. He didn't have share any interests with the rest of his classmates and he had a dark taste in art. If he hadn't died in such a tragic way, things would have turned out differently for him.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: And pretty lively too.
  • Red Eyes! Take Warning: Well, green eyes in this case as they're made from fireflies, but Curtis Danko gives a good allusion to them.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Despite being called "Darklord of the Stupid" by Uncle Fred, Ryan Kankel is much more eloquent and sneaky than your average Jerk Jock.
  • Spiritual Successor: ParaNorman can be consider one to this film as they have roughly the same plot.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: But not the secret they thought.
  • Unfinished Business: All Curtis Danko wanted to do was show off his completed statue and out Mike for what he had done.
  • The Voiceless: Curtis Danko never speaks throughout the film.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Subverted, all the zombies are friendly and are helping Curtis to expose Mike Kankel's lies so the town will resume celebrating Halloween.