Let me ask you…what are your favorite Halloween movies? I don’t even need to hear to know the shouts of Hocus Pocus, Halloween, Halloweentown, and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I love those movies just as much as anyone else, and I could honestly put on a one-woman show of each one I listed but there is a Halloween movie out there that doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves. It has everything you need in a great Halloween movie: witches and their ilk, pumpkins, magic wands, a paranoid grave digger, a magician, a homeless man faking a British accent and if that doesn’t make you curious then I am disappointed. Of course, I am talking about the amazing Olsen Twins film DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE. Sit for a spell and let me learn you a little something.
DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE came out in 1993. I was six-years-old and I wanted to be the third Olsen Twin (I didn’t understand that twin meant two at that point). It was released on October 30th! How perfect is that?? It follows Lynn and Kelly, two little girls that don’t like being twins. No one can tell them apart and they just want to feel like their own person. Their parents are having financial troubles and the Monday after Halloween, their house will be seized by the bank. In an effort to save their home, their mom goes to her Aunt Agatha (Cloris Leachman) to ask for a loan (she’s insanely rich). Unfortunately, Aunt Agatha is a bit of a twin hating witch and kicks them out of her house. Turns out, Agatha is a twin too but her sister Sophia disappeared seven years ago and no one knows where she went. Sophia was kind and gentle but Agatha is mean and hateful.
While their parents are trying to save their home, Lynn and Kelly come across a very jittery grave digger (Wayne Robson) on the aunt’s property that tells them Agatha is a witch who trapped their Aunt Sophia with a magical moonstone they found in the house as children. After so many years of Agatha torturing Sophia with her magic, Sophia had enough and was going to leave but Agatha stopped her. The girls realize that Sophia is their only hope of saving their home and this is the final year to save Sophia before the spell becomes permanent. Along the way, they meet the money-loving Mr. N (Meshach Taylor) who hears of a giant gemstone and decides to help and Oscar the Magic Clown (Phil Fondacaro), the magician who lives in the forest because his dwarfism makes him different and people are cruel. On Halloween, they sneak away from their parents and set on a mission to save their aunt, save their home and learn how special they are to be twins.
Back in the early ’90s, the Olsen Twins were THE child actors. I used to watch “The Adventures of Mary Kate and Ashley” (The Case of Thorn Mansion was the BEST and I had it on VHS) and that premiered a year after DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE. While those mystery shows were great, there was something truly special about DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE, and as I’ve realized as an adult watching that it’s less about Mary Kate and Ashley but more about the adult actors in the movie that makes it great. The twins were great and adorable but the performances by Leachman, Taylor, Robson, Fondacaro, and Erik McCormack (who plays their dad) are top-notch and that’s something you don’t usually see in a kid’s movie from the ’90s.
The performances are caricatures of their subjects, for sure but when you have CLORIS LEACHMAN playing a witch, it’s gonna be the best witch you have ever seen. She is cruel and evil and a fashion icon (“She’s Elizabeth Taylor of the weirdos”). I modeled how I wanted to look as an old lady after Aunt Agatha and I was 6-years-old. I have been spooky my whole life and I picked my icons well, it seems. DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE touches on individualism, acceptance, teamwork, unconditional love, and perseverance. Those are some heavy lessons for a kid’s Halloween movie and it’s done so well. And let’s not forget to mention the Witches’ Gathering scene. It’s pretty incredible.
If you haven’t seen DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE, then you are missing out on one of the best Halloween movies out there. It’s great to watch with your kids or do as I do, grab a bag of Halloween candy, cozy up on the couch, turn your Halloween lights on and watch the Olsen Twins kick a witch’s ass and save the day.
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