A made-for-TV movie based on a story by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, this gently spooky tale is aimed firmly at preteens who aren't yet ready for harder shocks. Raised in Chicago, 13-year-old Danny Walker (Joe Pichler) finds himself back in his dad's hometown, Walker Falls, MN, after his parents' divorce. The Walker name was once a pretty big deal, but that's all in the past. The scrawny, citified Danny is just another outsider, picked on by bullies, ignored by girls and neglected by his preoccupied father (Tom Amandes), who's busy trying to drum up investors so he can reopen the Walker family chocolate factory. Danny's best friend is his grandpa, whom everyone calls Uncle Fred (Christopher Lloyd), and the great love of Uncle Fred's life is Halloween, an enthusiasm he's passed on to both his son and Danny. Unfortunately, for 20 years Walker Falls has been the town that hated Halloween. In 1980, proto-goth eighth grader Curtis Danko (Brendan McCarthy) died in a freakish kiln accident after having sculpted a statue that, rumor has it, will burn out the eyes of anyone who looks at it. He also cursed the town, promising that if they ever celebrated Halloween again, he'd come back to take his revenge. So the statue, covered with canvas, is stashed in Curtis' padlocked crypt, and there's no trick or treating for the kids of Walker Falls; in fact, that's why the Walker chocolate factory had to shut down in the first place. So Mr. Walker's plan to entice investors with a town-wide "Halloween Spook-tacular" puts him seriously at odds with his neighbors, especially belligerent Coach Kankel (Joe Clements). Kankel, who's running for mayor, was the first to discover Curtis Danko's body and is the only person who's ever seen Danko's hideous statue. It probably goes without saying that his son, Ryan (Craig Marriott), is one of the bullies making Danny's life a misery. Things only get worse when Uncle Fred is killed in a freak accident involving a tower of pumpkins. But he comes back as a cheerful (if gray-faced) ghoul and helps put everything right, though not before a horde of zombies rises from the town cemetery and makes this Halloween into a night of tricks and treats the townspeople will never forget. A canny mix of mild scares and youngsters' concerns bullying, being ostracized, feeling unloved, baby-steps dating this nicely mounted production features some pretty good zombie effects and professional performances all around.
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- Released: 2001
- Review: A made-for-TV movie based on a story by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, this gently spooky tale is aimed firmly at preteens who aren't yet ready for harder shocks. Raised in Chicago, 13-year-old Danny Walker (Joe Pichler) finds himself back in his dad's home… (more)