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18 Fun Facts About Teen Witch

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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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC

At its best, San Diego Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’s Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY


John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of 2016 and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Just a few months later, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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