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Chaotic and Deeply Weird: Why 'Teen Witch' (1989) is So Bad It's Good

'Teen Witch' (1989)

I’ll start by saying Teen Witch (1989) makes absolutely no sense and it’s amazing. In the words of Stefon, this film has EVERYTHING: Spontaneous song and dance numbers. Magic! 80’s fashion. Nasty men being thrown down stairs. And the most uncomfortable romance of all time! What more could you want?!

Teen Witch centers around Louise Miller who is played by Blake Lively’s older sister, Robyn Lively. Louise is a “dweeby” teen who wants to be “the most popular girl.” Her hobbies include judging others for being themselves, watching people from afar, and breaking and entering into spooky houses.

One day Louise’s crush, Brad, is driving recklessly (a common theme in this movie) and runs Louise off the road while she is biking. He doesn’t seem to know who she is even though they performed a scene together for the play callbacks not 10 minutes earlier.

*Side note: I do wonder if Brad ever had a High School Musical-esque internal conflict about being a football star in the drama club? Troy? Are you there? Can we just call him Troy?

Anyways, Troy runs Louise off the road and then just leaves her there to figure it out. She wanders around until she finds her local haunted mansion and asks to use the phone. Just when you think Riff Raff or the Butler from Clue will answer, we are met with someone just as whimsically wacky in Madame Serena. Madame Serena has questionable morals (but so does everyone else in this movie, so I guess it’s OK??). Serena reveals that Louise is an ancient witch with magical powers and encourages her to use her powers for wholesome endeavors such as printing her own money, brainwashing a mob of fans to follow her around town, and tricking Brad into falling in love with her (priorities, right?).

The rest of the movie is a wild ride that will have you asking: "Did she just kill that guy!?!" or "Why is she barefoot??" or "Are her parents actual robots??" or "Is there any code of ethics in this coven?" or "Is this a musical, or are people just singing?"

Teen Witch is a musical, I think. I could be convinced otherwise. EITHER WAY, can I turn your attention to an ICONIC musical number, "Top That!"

Also in line with classic 80’s coming-of-age movies, Louise has a pesky little brother who is always getting into trouble. But Louise’s little brother is more than a pest, he is weird. Like, deeply weird. I think he’s making a pizza in this scene below with marshmallows? The actor is delivering lines with such severity that it seems like he should be in a shadowy room smoking a cigar, like The Godfather. Check out this fun sibling banter where he screams, “You think you’re hot stuff ‘cause you went to a dance, DREAM ON, nobody wants to date you because you’re a dog, a dog, a dog!” Wow! If I had a dollar every time my sibling said that to me!

Teen Witch is truly the epitome of So Bad It’s Good films. Every wacky inconsistency, random musical number, and strange character choice makes me laugh. I’ll leave you all with a song that will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day! I hope you can all be "The Most Popular Girl."


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About the author

Kali Strawn is a museum educator at MoPOP.

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