Even though it’s been 20 years since Disney Channel’s fourth original movie Halloweentown first aired, ’90s kids still look forward to watching the Cromwell kids get into some supernatural mischief once October rolls around.
And though you might consider yourself a wiz when it comes to Halloweentown trivia, there are some behind-the-scenes secrets not even the most loyal of fans know about the film. To brush up on your facts, here are 12 things you definitely didn’t know about the magic behind this cult-favourite movie.
The movie didn’t have a large budget.
The first instalment of the Halloweentown franchise was presented to director Duwayne Dunham as a $US20 to $US30 million project. But they were only given $US4 million to film with.
“I liked the story of the kids and their grandmother and the mother and the secret and all of that stuff. But it was like a $US20 to $US30 million movie when they presented it to me, and at that time, Disney Channel had just started production on their first movie, which was “Brink,” and we were the second one,” Dunham said in an interview with MTV.
“Our concept was great, but the scope was too much for us and our budget. So the trick was how do you keep the tone and the concept intact, and pare it down so we could afford to do this?”
Obviously hey made it work. The film was shot in full over the course of a quick, 24-day span, with actors doubling up costumes on set to create the illusion of a busy town.
You can visit Halloweentown in real life.
The original Halloweentown was filmed in the town square of St. Helens, Oregon, and every year since its release in 1998, the town celebrates All Hallows’ Eve by hosting the Spirit Of Halloweentown Festival from mid-September through October 31.
“They kick off the festival every year with an annual lighting ceremony. We say a spell from the movie, and the jack-o-lantern is lit. It’s lit you guys,” Brown said of the festival in a YouTube video.
The month-long event also features activities like family-friendly haunted houses, photos with the original orange pumpkin from the film, a museum of peculiarities and oddities, pumpkin picking, a costume contest, and more.
Benny, the sassy skeleton taxi driver, was actually a robot.
Benny the taxi driver wasn’t an actor dressed as a skeleton, nor was his character completely digitised. During a Q&A with Baltimore Media Blog, Kimberly J. Brown who played 13-year-old Marnie Cromwell outed the man behind the curtain – or, I should say, the robot behind the skeleton – for what he truly was.
“One specific memory [I have from filming Halloweentown is] of the character Benny,” Brown told the blog. “The actor dubbed his lines after filming, so we actually worked with a robot. I’ll always remember the ‘errr err’ sound it made.”
Halloweentown is a book, but you won’t find it at Barnes and Noble.
Fans of the film might remember the “Halloweentown” picture book Grandma Aggie brought Marnie the night she found out she was the next teen witch. During a Q&A Brown uploaded to her YouTube channel in July of 2013, the actress said the book was made exclusively for the film, but, unfortunately, never made it onto shelves.
“That was a special book they did make for the movie,” Brown explained. “They had an artist draw all the pictures in it, and they gave them a photograph of me before we started shooting the movie [so that they could draw] that picture of me on the broom which I thought was really cool.”
The fall film was shot in the summer.
Fall might translate to pumpkin spice lattes, cosy sweaters, and watching re-runs of the entire Halloween franchise start to finish for the average ’90s kid, but this classic autumnal film was actually produced in the middle of July.
Dunham told MTV the actors would often walk around set with part of their costumes off because “it was the dead of summer” and so hot.
The actor who played Kal in Halloweentown II completely improvised his first spell.
Most of the spells you’ll hear throughout the movies were scripted, but actor Daniel Kountz, who played the evil Kalabar’s son, Kal, had to come up with a spell on the spot during his first scene.
Kountz told MTV News that the script said, in plain ink, “Kal says spell and walks through the portal.” But he’d interpreted that to mean someone would fill in the blank when the time came.
When director Mary Lambert asked if he’d had his spell prepared just minutes before shooting, Kountz recited a line from a random German tune he’d remembered from high school choir.
“I just pulled that out of nowhere, and they ended up using [it in the movie], and I think it actually worked out pretty well,” Kountz told MTV.
Only two of the original actors were in all four movies.
Once a movie gets a sequel, then a midquel, and eventually a fourth instalment, it’s not uncommon for actors to phase out by the series’ end. Only two Halloweentown original cast members stayed throughout:Judith Hoag, who played Gwen Cromwell, and Joey Zimmerman, who portrayed Dylan Cromwell.
Halloweentown High shared a set with another classic DCOM.
If you were a fan of Disney’s “The Luck Of The Irish,” then you might have noticed a few setting similarities between Disney’s St. Patrick’s Day-inspired film and Halloweentown High. According to MTV, both movies filmed scenes at the Juan Diego Catholic High School in Utah. The location credits can be found on their IMDB pages.
Halloweentown was supposed to have a much darker ending.
Obviously, Halloweentown is a family-friendly holiday film like “Casper Meets Wendy” as opposed to the holiday’s classic slasher films like “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and “Friday The 13th.” However, in an interview with Seventeen.com, Brown said the movie originally had a much darker ending that was eventually re-written to the warm-and-fuzzy ending fans know and love today.
“If I remember correctly, [the alternate ending] involved Marnie going into the middle of a forest to place the talisman instead of in the giant pumpkin,” Brown told Seventeen.
“But I do remember that there was a section of the forest she had to walk through, and as she did she got older and older – that was the dangerous part about her having to go into it to save the town.”
The crew actually had to make a mould of Brown’s head to create the masks of Marnie’s age transitions. Because the scene was never shot, however, they gifted the cement mould to the actress as a kind of keepsake once the film wrapped.
Kal and Marnie are dating in real life.
Kal was the devilishly charming villain you probably loved to hate, but also secretly loved because of the whole devilishly charming bit. So if you were a super fan secretly shipping Kal and Marnie in real life, good news.
Daniel Kountz and Kimberly J. Brown made their relationship Instagram official on July 6 when Brown posted a sweet pic in honour of National Kissing Day. The two smooched against a lamp post and “Halloweentown” fans around the world were swooning.
Aunt Aggie’s house is a bed and breakfast fans can stay at.
If festivals aren’t your scene, but you’d still like to experience a taste of Halloweentown in real life, the exterior of grandma Aggie’s house is actually a bed and breakfast overlooking St. Helens.
Marnie was re-casted in “Return to Halloweentown,” and fans were not happy about it.
Reports circulated for quite some time that Sara Paxton took over the role due to schedule issues with Brown, but the Halloweentown alum has been pretty vocal about the switch up.
“Some people said they heard I was working on something, which was not the case at the time,” Brown said addressing the reports in a YouTube video. “I was available and ready to do it and had talked to them about possibly doing it. But Disney decided to go in a different direction and recast the role.”
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.