Movie #89 2022: Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001)

Yes, yes. I know. I promise this is my last Halloween/spooky season-themed movie… for a while, at least. But why not end on something sweet and nostalgic like this? I mean, I could have said goodbye to Halloween 2022 with something super gory like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or something ttruly terrifying like Onibaba, but is there anything better to transition from Halloween to Christmas than a magical ‘kids’ movie? I think not.

In this sequel to 1998 American classic Halloweentown, we go back to the world that enchanted us in the first place, albeit this time the story is mostly set in the human realm. You may remember that Marnie and her grandmother defeated the evil Kalabar in the original film. This time round, his evil son, Kal (no points for originality with that name), has come back to haunt the Cromwells in order to get revenge for his father… hence the title. Due to Kal being a vengeful little brat, Marnie must go back to Halloweentown in an attempt to recover Grandmother Agatha’s old spell book, where she meets some old friends along the way. And that’s about it for the plot, in all honesty.

Man, how do you even describe Debbie Reynolds? The fact that she even agreed to be in these movies makes me love her even more. Pure Hollywood legend, who proves with her appearances in this franchise that she just wanted to make films that made people happy.

It’s understandable why so many people are nostalgic for this franchise. Everything about it is just so wholesome and warm. Sure, technically they’re not the best movies Disney have ever produced, but they are purely charming, simple films that were made solely with a young audience in mind. Of course, watching this sequel for the first time as a 30 year old makes me far from the intended audience, but when trying to see this film through a child’s eyes, you can see its appeal.

In this instalment, we see our mystical siblings return once again as Kalabar’s son comes back to avenge his father. To put it concisely, it’s a really simplistic plot that doesn’t exactly have too many twists and turns to surprise you. Whilst the first movie was just as basic, this time round it just feels as if the writers were finding it difficult to come up with a compelling story. Thankfully, it’s a 90 minute movie so things don’t drag on for too long, but it definitely felt a little lazy on the writing front.

Just as the script is cheesy, the performances are equally so. Obviously no one is expecting anything Oscar-worthy here, but Halloweentown II is right up there with the most blatant Disney Channel acting of all time. Don’t for one second think that I’m including Miss Debbie in this evaluation though, because she’s as resplendent and warm as ever. I’d watch her pair socks for a full 90 minutes, to tell you the truth.

So no, it’s not as good as the first, but it’s fine. The CGI is nothing short of horrendous and there’s not a lot of memorability about it, but for kids who grew up in the nineties? I’m sure it’ll be beloved for years to come.

Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge is currently available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½


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