I dug up this piece I wrote a while ago because it's a great example of '80s crazy-teen films, and because I completely adore this movie. In general I love films about witches. Not ones where they’re burnt at the stake, but ones where they conjure up love potions with hilarious/terrible consequences (E.g. The Craft). This week I took a walk down nostalgia lane (for a change – seriously someone give me a map that leads to the present day), and revisited one of my old favourites, Teen Witch. To save you guys the trouble of having to set aside an hour and a half to watch it, I thought I’d give you a spell by spell account here. I’d warn you with a SPOILER ALERT, but seriously, this film is dripping in 80s teen movie cliché so I don't think I'm in any danger of a ruining a The Sixth Sense style plot twist. This isn't really a Style Dissection as I didn't really want to champion many of the outfits on display, wonderful as they are...but more a love letter to a time when movies like this still got made.
The film begins with a pretty awesome sax solo – is there any other type? A long piece of blue silk is fluttering languidly in the breeze as the camera glides along the top of the… wait, are we on the top of a building?! Okay. No, it’s fine, it’s just if I was going to have a romantic fantasy dream I don’t think I’d set it in an urban cityscape, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, one thing we can all agree on is that this is definitely a fantasy dream sequence. Here’s why:
- A man is standing in a fake doorway, his blousy silk shirt is unbuttoned to the navel.
- It’s in slo-mo.
- The girl has red hair yet is dressed in a scarlet body con dress – sadly it is often only in our fantasies that we are brave enough to attempt clashing hair/clothes combos.
- They’re doing that “oooh let’s get really close to each other so it looks like we might kiss…nah lets dance instead!” thing. This almost never happens to me in real life.
Alarm clock. We’re brought back to reality with a crash. Meet Louise Miller, a pretty ordinary girl who lives in the suburbs, wears clothes only in a sludge brown palette and has a super annoying younger brother. This is him by the way, he looks like a young Tom Cruise with what I hope is chocolate smeared on his cheeks:
Oh no! Louise’s little brother has found a poem she wrote about the guy she’s secretly in love with! Whoa, I totally didn’t see that one coming! Luckily, Louise snaffles the poem back off him. She cycles to school with her Kooky Best Friend who has corkscrew black hair and is wearing a big floppy hat. She’s already my favourite character. As they leave Louise’s house, they see the jock Louise is in love with picking up his perfect girlfriend. Okay, this man is clearly 30 years old, so although he might have his own car, he must be have a lot of issues to still be in High School.
We’re seven minutes into the film and we’ve got ourselves our second dance sequence. A gang of men, also 30, are trying to break dance in the school corridor to some minimal techno. We know they’re “bad news” because they’re leaning on Louise’s locker and it takes them, like, 32 seconds to move. Seriously when are the police getting here?
The casting director for this film must have garnered their ideas of what "Geeks" look like from Saved By The Bell. Unfortunately for them, these two are actually the coolest kids we’ve seen so far.
The walking '80s nerd stereotypes are talking to Louise, so we know she’s definitely NOT POPULAR. We then have a close up of the jock’s girlfriend flicking her fluffy blonde hair. Well, she’s trying to flick it but it’s been blow-dried and hairsprayed so much it doesn’t really move. Hot.
Next up, ritual humiliation. Louise’s poem accidentally is discovered by her mean and tweedy English teacher. The jock is in the same class as her! We know it’s about him! Cringe!
Third dance sequence in the girls locker room. This section has been crow-barred into the film under the flimsy pretence of, “We’re cheerleaders and we have a new cheer!” It’s basically ten girls kicking their way around the lockers in high-leg purple leotards. Their cheer is rubbish, they just shout “We like boys!” over and over again, which makes me doubt whether or not they’re the school’s official team. Especially since they have to rehearse in the changing rooms.
Louise is cycling home in the rain when her bike gets nudged off the road by, guess who, the jock and his girlfriend. The jock wants to stay and help her (nice man) but his girlfriend pressures him into leaving Louise to fend for herself (nasty lady, so it's fine for Louise to steal her boyfriend). Louise begins walking her bike home but spots a creepy house she’s never seen before and, obviously, decides to enter it unbidden and snoop around.
The house is owned by a woman who wears way too much jewellery (pictured above). She reads Louise’s palm and tells her that she’s descended from one of the Salem witches. She says that Louise has magic powers that will come into maturity when she turns 16 in a few days. Louise is suitably freaked out and runs out of Jewellery Over-Kill’s house without saying thank you.
Cut to Louise’s birthday. She’s sitting with her family and a huge cake and they’re discussing the fact no one has turned up to her party. This is actually a really sad scene. People not turning up to someone’s party always gets me. Luckily the sadness is tempered by the following hilarious sex education sequence. A mature lady saying the word “condom” will ALWAYS be funny!
Louise finds a cool pendant necklace in the drama cupboard. She puts it on and suddenly the hip girls start talking to her. Kooky Best Friend is really supportive and excited for Louise's new popularity which shows that she’s an awesome person and should have had a bigger part in the narrative.
Louise goes to the prom in a super dowdy outfit with Rent-A-Geek number 3 who looks like a young Justin Theroux.
In the girls bathroom, Louise gets changed into the worst outfit I’ve ever seen in my life times infinity. It’s fish net tights, a tartan red mini skirt with a neon pink tutu on top, a bright blue shirt tied at the navel and she’s fluffed up her fringe so it looks like a hamster waving.
The jock is dancing with his girlfriend at the prom. Louise looks at him and murmurs, “I wish he’d come over here”. Then he totally does! He asks her if he can talk to her privately. They go outside where, for some unexplained reason, there are loads of hay bales. The jock has no personality so he just says something inane about the stars.
They go behind a bale and it’s looking pretty promising but it turns out he just wants a tutor because he’s 30 and still hasn’t graduated from High School. Louise agrees and then gets driven home by Justin Theroux, whom she accidentally makes disappear. Then she turns her annoying little brother into a dog. Newsflash: this girl’s got gifts.
She returns to Jewellery Over-Kill who explains that with Louise’s powers and her knowledge, they can rule the world! Louise asks about making a love potion, which is a spectacularly lame first spell. She does it anyway and invites jock over for some tutoring. He has to sit on her bed for the potion to work, so I can only assume that Louise is a particular type of witch who imbibes spells into people’s bums. She doesn’t manage to make it happen as he’s desperate to sit on a chair for some reason, so they just get on with studying. Maybe his bum has been magic-attacked before.
Cue magic montage sequence with Louise making a voodoo doll of her evil English teacher and an incredible scene where Kooky Best Friend gains magical confidence and has a sassy rap-off with one of the break-dancing bad boys.
She’s all up in his grill and he loves it. I kinda wish the film had just been about these two.
She’s all up in his grill and he loves it. I kinda wish the film had just been about these two.
Louise gets popular by making a popular spell using the jacket of a singer called Shana. Shana is her favourite musical artist, which makes sense because when we see Shana at her gig she is wearing the worst outfit I’ve ever seen in my life part two.
After obtaining the jacket and wearing it while she spins around in her bedroom, Louise becomes seriously cool. And by that I mean she has big hair, wears socks with her heels and is never seen out of a ra-ra skirt. Time for the second montage: Louise flicking her hair around, Louise being helped out of cars by boys, people applauding Louise when she walks into class and Louise being rapped to in the street by the break-dancers. I wish being cool was actually like that. Of course, in the midst of this Louise has completely forgotten about her roots, so the montage is interlaced with shots of Kooky Best Friend waving slowly, looking forlorn or dropping her books out of sadness. Girl, you’re better off without her, just keep rocking the hats.
Finally, Louise gets together with the jock. They have an afternoon makeout session in an abandoned shack. It all seems a bit seedy – the sexy saxaphone is back – but I guess they had to shoot it early in the day because the jock’s five o’clock shadow was threatening to return by nightfall. This scene is unutterably weird. The jock leaves his clothing around the house for Louise to come find him, “Chase me, chase me!”
Eventually she discovers him perched on the banister like a creepy vest goblin.
Louise soon learns that popularity, with all its delicious trappings, isn't that great. Particularly when there are people camped on your front lawn with signs and banners. Hey, we’ve all been there.
She freaks out and runs to Jewellry Over-Kill who tells her that “the real magic is believing in yourself”. Louise realises she can’t go to the dance with the jock because she’s been lying to him about her true self. She takes Jewellry Over-Kill instead (of course) but when she turns up the jock is there dancing with his ex. He looks super pleased to see Louise, as does his ex-girlfriend. I find that a bit odd, but maybe there’s a dynamic to their relationship I didn’t pick up on.
Louise chucks her magic pendant over to Jewellery Over-Kill who snatches it out of the air hungrily. Oh great, she’s got ANOTHER necklace. Then Louise and the jock do some sultry dry ice dancing.
Personally I’d take magical powers over this 30 year old High School jock any day. ROLL CREDITS.