no bravado here. I was the kind of kid who was afraid of courage, the cowardly dog. nervously looking over my shoulders as courage tried to face his fears in each episode i gave up and switched to nicktoons completely missing the moral of the story. I’m also not afraid to admit that I’m still this kind of adult. I’d rather read the entire wikipedia page, multiple vulture.com interviews, and a critical dissection of the ending than press play on an a24 horror movie. for halloween last year, i challenged myself to watch just one scary movie in its entirety, and while every hot girl i know is right (jennifer’s body rules), this year, i’m going back to my own movie halloween staff, 2003, is terrifying. godmother: halloween spooktakular.
Based on a 1997 children’s book by Jill Thompson, the Canadian animated film, directed by Zeke Norton, was syndicated on Cartoon Network during the spooky season. Unlike the Halloween Disney Channel, which featured dcoms like Halloweentown, Twitches, and classics like Phantom of the Megaplex, The Scary Godmother stood out for her almost mind-blowing take on Halloween, filled with wonderful visuals and music. At just 45 minutes long, the TV movie felt like an epic to me as I watched a girl named Hannah Marie visit “The Side of Fear” on Halloween (more on that later). Her journey is animated (or reanimated, in the case of The Walking Dead) with a combination of 3D figures and 2D backgrounds, following the original illustrations from Thompson’s book. Today, Scary Godmother is available almost exclusively on YouTube. A DVD-quality version has over 3 million views and nearly 10,000 comments lamenting the fact that Cartoon Network stopped airing it. youtube video wizards even remastered it in 4k hdr in may 2020. while 4k quality allows for funny CG glitches like shoes digging into the ground, for me, it’s too bright. somehow, from the moment it opens in the mystical graveyard, it’s missing that nostalgic watercolor texture. The next best bet for a legit copy of The Scary Godmother is a fun Halloween DVD bundle from 2014, which is still on sale through Target. but hey that includes wubbzy goes boo! and eloise’s rawther unusual halloween too).
So what happens in Scary Godmother? Well: The magic begins when Hannah’s cousin’s bully, Jimmy, locks her up in the cemetery’s “ghost house” instead of taking her trick-or-treating with her friends. you can tell he’s evil by her literal devil costume or of course that’s going to make every 2000s animated villain have eyebrows for some reason. hannah’s cries for help are answered by his terrifying godmother, one more witch. frizzle guy who could easily be played by sarah jessica parker or tracee ellis ross in a live action reboot. She magically takes Hannah to the Side of Fear, a Halloween Town-style alternate realm where the Scary Godmother is hosting her annual Halloween party. It’s a literal graveyard crush attended by some of the scariest beings from both sides of the universe, and they’re prepared to help Hannah face his biggest fear: monsters. “Wow, wow, you’re in luck,” the terrifying godmother tells Hannah. “some of my best friends are monsters!” First, Hannah meets a flamboyant skeleton in the closet, a skull petticoat, and his non-canon boyfriend, an opera-loving werewolf named Harry. then his roommate bug-a-boo (an off-duty under-the-bed monster) shows up alongside a royal family of vampires, including a socially anxious earl. each guest teaches hannah something about coping with fears. She finds common interests with Orson, a vampire prince, even though she goes to night school, flies and sleeps in a coffin. she even manages to agree with bug-a-boo based on a mutual love of pizza with olives.
Throughout the spooky godmother proves that weirdos throw the best parties. Do any other Gen Z cuspers remember being highly impressed by the fourth-wall-breaking interlude in which the terrifying godmother shares a recipe for gooey salty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? perfect to occupy a “chatting werewolf”? the rare food segments are still the best. (That’s why food fights are so popular and why Andrew is on a spree with Babish and has a three-story house in Brooklyn. Andrew, do we have a video idea for you?) The movie also makes time for a breakup. dance, with moves that rival a Charlie Brown Christmas. I could entertain you with my theories about the scary godmother, bug-a-boo, harry, and skully being gay best friends, but the movie does a pretty good job on its own. again, who throws the best parties?
On Earth, Jimmy and his friends (a black cat, a candy, and a baseball player driving his SUV) miss Halloween while waiting for Hannah to stop crying. they spend the night pretending to be brave and picking on a little boy and eventually forget what’s important to them: candy.
alright, so what if the stakes are low? Scary Godmother cleverly evokes big idea concepts about acceptance, overcoming fears, and self-confidence in a way kids can understand. If she can meet vampires, nothing can stop Hannah Marie from becoming a “movie star/princess/vet/astronaut/ballerina with a pony.” For years, Scary Godmother has been a fall movie staple for a generation. It’s inspired by fan art, memes, and the last party I threw, during Halloween 2019. Treat yourself and your kids, furry or not, to a terrifying godmother: Halloween Spooktakular and its sequel, Revenge of Jimmy, this year. maybe, just maybe, we can charm a streaming service to reset it.