If you’ve had the pleasure of catching a screening of Teen Witch over the past 25 years—on television, at a live sing-along, or on an old-school VHS—you know that Louise Miller is a teenager with magical powers who is gonna be the most popular girl at her high school. But here are 18 things you might not know about the 1989 cult classic.
1. TEEN WITCH WAS PITCHED AS A GIRL VERSION OF TEEN WOLF.
While the final version of the film bears some obvious similarities to Teen Wolf—a teen balancing high school life with his or her supernatural abilities—it originally intended to borrow the title font, tagline, and general plot from the 1985 Michael J. Fox hit. Eventually, Teen Witch morphed into an original work.
2. THE MOVIE TANKED IN THEATERS.
Shot on a budget of $2.5 million, Teen Witch wasn’t able to conjure up any magical box office numbers. It made just $3,875 in its opening weekend, and had a total domestic gross of $27,590 for its entire run. It was via subsequent airings on cable and ABC Family that its popularity began to grow.
3. ITS MUSIC IS ITS CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT.
Love it or hate it, Teen Witch’s odd—and some might say nonsensical—supernatural elements and teen rom-com moments are part of its charm. But its singing and dancing are what have cemented its place in pop culture history. Nerve.com may have described it best when it called the movie’s famously terrible “Top That” rap as “everything wonderful and terrible about [the 1980s] rolled into one misguided appropriation of hip-hop.” As a result, Teen Witch Sing-Alongs have become popular events in major cities, from New York to San Francisco.
4. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU CAN’T PURCHASE THE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK.
The producers of Teen Witch clearly did not anticipate that it would become a pop culture phenomenon, so the film’s original budget did not include funding for a soundtrack release. Fortunately, there is YouTube.
5. BUT A LIVE MUSICAL RECORDING DOES EXIST.
As the film continued to grow in popularity, the film’s musical producers—Larry and Tom Weir—decided to re-record the soundtrack with new performers. In 2007, they released Teen Witch The Musical on Amazon and iTunes. It was released in anticipation of a Broadway-bound musical (which has yet to materialize).
6. THE GROUNDLINGS LAUNCHED A LIVE VERSION, TOO.
The renowned Los Angeles improv group—which counts Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Paul Reubens, Maya Rudolph, and Rachael Harris among its alumni—launched a live version of the show, Teen Witch: The Musical, on January 21, 2013.
7. THE MOVIE’S POPULARITY MAKES SONGWRITER LARRY WEIR THINK PEOPE ARE “PRETTY MESSED UP.”
In a 2007 interview with Austinist, Teen Witch songwriter Larry Weir acknowledged the movie’s cheesiness. “What’s crazy is that we have been to screenings all over the country, in Seattle, San Francisco and even Manhattan, and for every screening there have been lines around the block and packed theaters, which leads me to believe that there are some pretty messed up people out there,” he joked. “In San Francisco it was almost like being at a concert, they cranked the audio up and it was wild."
8. ROBYN LIVELY BLAMES HER BAD DANCING ON BEING “THE MOST POPULAR GIRL.”
“I took all the dancing too seriously at the time,” star Robyn Lively, who played Louise Miller, recently admitted to BuzzFeed. “I was a little more self-conscious back then. And when I had to do the ‘most popular girl’ spin inside the bedroom, I had twisted my ankle. I’m going to blame most of my bad dancing on the ankle.”
9. LOUISE’S DAD HAD A HISTORY WITH WITCHES.
Louise’s father, Frank, was played by actor Dick Sargent, who was no stranger to sorcery. From 1969 to 1972, he played (the second) Darrin Stephens—husband to Samantha and father to Tabitha—on the popular series Bewitched.
10. IN MANY OF THE MUSICAL NUMBERS, THE FILM’S AUDIO AND VIDEO ARE OUT OF SYNCH.
This is particularly apparent in the infamous “Top That” rap.
11. MANDY INGBER COUNTS TEEN WITCH AS ONE OF HER WORST SUMMER JOBS.
In a 2013 interview with Diet Detective, actress-turned-yogi Mandy Ingber, who played Louise’s best friend Polly, recalled that her “most noteworthy ‘bad summer job’ was the summer I did Teen Witch... It haunts me, as the ‘rap’ I did for this ’80s movie lives on through the Internet. I think that’s the best of the worst.”
12. IT TOOK A DRAG QUEEN TO GET JOSHUA MILLER TO APPRECIATE THE FILM.
In a 2013 interview with VICE, Joshua Miller—who played Louise’s obnoxious little brother Richie—admitted that it took some time for him to understand the movie’s appeal. “It wasn’t until years later though, when a drag queen named Peaches Christ started hosting midnight screenings of Teen Witch in San Francisco, that I began to appreciate it,” he admitted. “He invited me to one, and prior to the screening he sat me down and explained that as a teenager he could see that I was not like the other boys; that there was something sexually ambiguous about me that gave him a sense of comfort, especially in Teen Witch. That meant the world to me. From then on, I was proud. I don’t take compliments from drag queens lightly, because they have no problem telling you what time it is. There’s no f****** bulls***."
13. MILLER IS PART OF A FAMOUS FAMILY.
Though he was just 14 years old at the time of Teen Witch’s release, Joshua Miller was no stranger to Hollywood. Miller is the son of playwright and Oscar-nominated actor Jason Miller (Father Karras in The Exorcist) and Russ Meyer muse Sue Bernard. His grandfather, Bruno Bernard, was one of the world’s first celebrity photographers. And he is the half-brother of actor Jason Patric. But Miller wasn’t the only famous son on set. Polly’s funky “Top That” cohort Noah Blake is the son of actor-turned-murder suspect Robert Blake.
14. MADAME SERENA SHARES A HOUSE WITH MICHAEL JACKSON.
The creepy Victorian house that Zelda Rubinstein, as Madame Serena, calls home in Teen Witch is the same Los Angeles abode where Michael Jackson turned into a werewolf in the video for “Thriller.”
15. ROBYN LIVELY’S MOM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR LOUISE’S AWESOME ’80S STYLE.
Kaptain Kirk, YouTube
“My mom was really the one who created the entire style for Teen Witch,” Robyn Lively told BuzzFeed about Louise Miller’s totally ’80s wardrobe. “I’m dead serious. She was super involved, and is super creative, so I wore a lot of my actual clothes in the movie. Truly, Louise was my mom’s vision. She really created an iconic character.”
16. A TEEN WITCH REMAKE WAS ANNOUNCED IN 2008.
In 2008, Variety confirmed that High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale would re-create the role of Louise Miller in a Teen Witch remake. And in 2010, Tisdale talked about how (unlike in the original) the new Teen Witch would actually do some of her own singing. But it’s four years later now and no production start date has been announced—and Tisdale is about to celebrate her 29th birthday—so...
17. BLAKE LIVELY HAD HER OWN TEEN WITCH WEDDING MOMENT.
When Robyn Lively’s younger sister, Gossip Girl star Blake, married Ryan Reynolds in 2012, she wanted to give her a gift she’d never forget. “My younger sister and younger brother are huge Teen Witch fans,” the elder Lively told Pop My Culture Podcast. “So for [Blake's] wedding, my younger brother and I got together and figured out how to do that last scene, the ‘Finest Hour’ dance... I got a blue dress, a blue tutu, and the music comes on. I had the necklace remade. I took it off and threw it to her. We did the whole dance!”
18. BUT BRAD AND RANDA LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
Louise gets the guy in the end of the movie. But in real life, high school stud Brad (Dan Gauthier) ended up with Louise’s teen rival, Randa (Lisa Fuller). “They dated while making the movie and got married shortly after the movie wrapped,” Lively—who admitted to harboring a major crush on Gauthier—told BuzzFeed. “I was heartbroken, but I still went to their wedding. Brad and Randa really lived happily ever after.”