This Halloween, we’re going all the way back to the age of Disney Channel’s Original Movies. That’s right folks, time to bust out your childhood memories and re-live your favorite films you grew up watching around the spooky time of the year.
I have re-discovered, re-purchased, and relayed the top ten Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM) that you should watch this Halloween, because I’m betting you probably forgot about them.
Under Wraps (1997)
Talk about a scary mummy! “Under Wraps” premiered on October 25, 1997, and is arguably and widely considered to be the very first DCOM ever released.
The movie revolves around a group of teens who accidentally discover a sarcophagus with a living mummy inside. Believing it to be friendly and scared, they take the mummy home before quickly learning that if they don’t return him to the now-missing sarcophagus before midnight, he will disappear forever!
The film was directed by Greg Beeman and starred Bill Fagerbakke, Adam Wylie, Mario Yedidia, and Clara Bryant. This short DCOM is pretty comical and runs at a total of 95 minutes.
If you don’t know “Halloweentown,” which is probably the most famous of the entire DCOM series, Halloween or not, then we seriously question your life decisions.
Making its debut on Disney Channel on October 17, 1998, the film is the first installment in the Halloweentown series, starring Kimberly J. Brown, the late Debbie Reynolds, and Judith Hoag.
The film revolves around the Cromwell family (Marnie, Dylan, and Sophie). Soon after Marnie Piper (Brown) learns (because she is a nosy busy-body) she is a witch, she sneaks out of her “prison-like” lifestyle at home, and into a magical time-traveling school bus with her mysterious grandmother, Aggie Cromwell (Reynolds) off to her home, Halloweentown. But Marnie soon learns that there is more to Halloweentown than meets the eye and her mother probably had good reasons for hiding this other “world” from she and her siblings.
The film was directed by Duwayne Dunham and starred Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, and Emily Roeske. This is an iconic DCOM and overall classic Halloween film for people of all ages, and runs at a little over 2 hours.
Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)
I’m not going to lie on this one—this one is the reason I always feared “The Boogeyman.” And for some fucked up reason, still does. But at the end of the day, this film is pretty comical mixed in with a hauntingly beautiful plotline, made just for kids.
Airing on Disney Channel on October 9, 1999, “Don’t Look Under the Bed,” was considered to be one of the scariest DCOM’s ever produced. And amen to that, because the nightmares that came following it were absolutely bonkers that I now know why I pissed the bed around that time…but shh you know nothing.
The film revolves around a high school girl, Bacon McCausland, portrayed by General Hospital’s Erin Chambers, as she tries to uncover the culprit who’s framing her for various pranks around the town. Against her will, she teams up with Larry Houdini, portrayed by Even Stevens star Ty Hodges, who is her little brother’s friend…but the problem is, nobody but her can see him—because he’s invisible.
Don’t Look Under the Bed | Source: Disney
Don’t laugh just yet—it’s scarier than you think for a DCOM and was the second DCOM to receive a TV-PG rating, due to its scary scenes. Viewers soon learn that a boogeyman, portrayed by Steve Valentine is responsible for the madness—but how does one stop a boogeyman? On top of that, Larry starts turning into one…but why?
The film was directed by Kenneth Johnson and starred Erin Chambers, Ty Hodges, Robin Riker, and Steve Valentine, running at a total of 100 minutes.
Smart House (1999)
Okay, it may not be a “Halloween” horror movie per se, but we currently are in a digital age with smart home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, Apple’s Home, and of course other smart technologies.
There is nothing more horrifying than your fucking “smart-home-assistant” coming alive and manifesting a physical form, turning your ridiculously expensive home into a fucking technological nightmare that you can’t escape from.
Think about a weekend out with your friends and you decide to do one of the “escape room” attractions—but can’t ever leave. Holy shit.
Making its Disney channel debut on June 26, 1999, “Smart House” revolves around a teenager, Ben, portrayed by Disney’s Ryan Merriman, who wins a fully-automated dream house in a competition, but soon learns that the computer (“PAT”) controlling the house, adapts to the inhabitant’s daily behaviors. Eventually, the house begins to take over and everything gets out of control.
The film was directed by Star Trek’s LeVar Burton and starred Kevin Kilner, Ryan Merriman, and Katey Sagal. It runs at approximately 82 minutes.
Mom’s Got A Date With a Vampire (2000)
Not going to lie, this one was a strange one, but one my sister and I enjoyed quite extensively, despite its fairly poor ratings.
Starring Carolina Rhea (Sabrina The Teenage Witch), “Mom’s Got A Date With a Vampire” is a hor-com that tells the story of two pretty well-grounded teens who set their mom up on a blind date so they can sneak out of the house.
What they don’t know is the date they set their mom up with, Dimitri Denatos, portrayed by Charles Shaughnessy, is a creature of the night and has future plans for his unbeknownst bride. Dimitri is actually a vampire who wants to place their mom under his spell, so she can live with him forever. The kids team up with Malachi Van Helsing, a vampire hunter, portrayed by Robert Carradine to help stop their mom’s inevitable fate.
The film first aired on Disney Channel on October 13, 2000, and runs at 85 minutes. It was directed by Steve Boyum, starring Matt O’Leary, Laura Vandervoort, Myles Jeffrey, and Carolina Rhea.
Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001)
Making its debut on the Disney Channel on October 12, 2001, “Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge,” is the second installment to the Halloweentown series. The film picks up exactly where it left off after “Halloweentown” ended—with Grandma Aggie moving into the house with her daughter Gwen and her grandchildren, Marnie, Dylan, and Sophie, who are setting up for their Halloween party.
But, when an attractive new stranger in town (Daniel Kountz) shows up at the Cromwell house and begins to take interest in Marnie, there’s more than meets the eye as we find out he steals one of Aggie’s spell books, while coincidentally, the world of Halloweentown begins to turn extremely gray and dull.
Reprising their roles as Aggie Cromwell (the late Debbie Reynolds), Gwen Piper (Judith Hoag), Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown), Dylan Piper (Joey Zimmerman), and Sophie Piper (Emily Roeske), the cast takes the world of Halloweentown to an entirely new, dark level.
The film was directed by Mary Lambert, running at a total of 81 minutes.
Fun fact—Brown and Kountz are currently dating, having finally confirmed fans’ suspicions last year that the two were a couple with a simple Instagram post.
The Scream Team (2002)
The “Scream Team” was probably my favorite DCOM just because of the “western” appeal to it. Yep, straight down to my Texan roots.
The film made its debut on Disney Channel on October 4, 2002, starring Mark Rendall, Kat Dennings, Robert Bockstael, Eric Idle, Tommy Davidson, Kathy Najimy, Kim Coates, Gary Reineke, and Nigel Bennett.
If you don’t remember the crazy ass “Jumper” (Davidson) and the witty, energetic “Mariah” (Najimy), then you definitely need to plop your ass on the couch and be prepared to laugh your ass off this weekend.
The film tells the tale of a dysfunctional family, where two children, Ian and Claire Carlyle, are mourning the death of their grandfather. After his death, young Ian is visited by the spirit of his grandfather, asking him to help save his soul along with countless others in the tiny New England town from an evil spirit named Zachariah Kull. The two children accidentally bump heads with a ghost named “Jumper,” kidnapping him and meeting the comical “Scream Team,” which helps ferry spirits from one world to the next.
The film was directed by Stuart Gillard (Twitches) and runs at approximately 100 minutes.
Phantom of the Megaplex (2002)
This DCOM is a kid-version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera—but made me afraid of ever going to the movies by myself.
Airing on Disney Channel on November 10, 2000, “Phantom of the Megaplex” tells the story of strange events that take place at a local movie theater, or megaplex, on the night of a major movie premiere of Midnight Mayhem.
The film’s main character, Pete Riley (Taylor Handley) is a 17-year-old assistant manager of the theater and has to deal with strange occurrences such as malfunctioning equipment, disappearing staff, a broken popcorn machine, and oh yeah—a laughing and mysterious phantom that’s running around the theater unnoticed somehow.
“Phantom of the Megaplex” was directed by Blair Treu and starred Taylor Handley, Caitlin Wachs, Jacob Smith, Corinne Bohrer, and Mickey Rooney. It runs at approximately 89 minutes.
Remember Tia and Tamera Mowry from Disney’s “Sister, Sister?” Well in “Twitches”, they weren’t sisters separated at birth. Rather, in “Twitches,” they were powerful twin witches who soon discover their powers, and realize they need to defeat a mysterious force called the “Darkness” to save their homeland of Coventry.
Many Disney film critics believed the film did not remain loyal to H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld’s original material. However, this is still a fun warlock-witch movie to sit on the couch and watch.
The film was directed by Stuart Gillard and starred Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Kristen Wilson, and Patrick Fabian. It runs at approximately 86 minutes.
Now You See It (2005)
No it’s not about Stephen King’s “IT,” thank god.
Airing on January 14, 2005, “Now You See It,” is a fun magical-comedy that revolves around a professional magician named “Mystic Max” (Frank Langella), who hosts a reality TV show. The show allows the winning three teams of minors, would be-TV directors and cameramen and the best young magicians some of them present, to go on to a final competition at Hollywood’s Magic Mansion.
Pushy nerd Allyson Miller (Allyson Michalka) was lucky enough to ‘discover’ Danny Sinclair (Johnny Pacar), who performs unseen tricks with stunning surprise, yet often lacks any confidence. In between the competition tests, Danny goes searching for the mansion’s secrets, hidden by founding magician Antonio De Milo. Finding those is only part of a confusing confrontation in which Max’s part is unclear.
The film was directed by Duwayne Dunham (Halloweentown) and stars Aly Michalka, Johnny Pacar, and Frank Langella.
“Now You See It” runs at approximately 83 minutes.
What’s Your Favorite Scare?
So, after this list, your only assignment this Halloween is to jump on your Apple TV or Amazon Prime accounts and start purchasing each of these films, because they are available, and I definitely own them all.
Please note that all images here were taken from pictures I’ve scanned from purchases of these digital movies I already own through Apple TV and iTunes.