It's October, which means your programming schedule is probably filled with spooky things like The Haunting of Hill House or marathoning the Halloween movies. But maybe you're not into the scary part of the holiday and prefer more fun-filled fare like Hocus Pocus or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Those are all solid choices, but we're pretty sure no matter what viewing list you're putting together, it doesn't include the most underrated Halloween film of all time: Casper Meets Wendy.
Listen, no one is discounting the original Casper starring Christina Ricci. It's been over 23 years and we're still waiting for cute boys to dance with us and ask to keep us, but the original Casper already receives all the hype it deserves (which is a lot). It's lesser -iewed sequel starring a baby-voiced Hilary Duff gets looked over year after year, and on its 20th anniversary, TV Guide is saying no more.
Yes, the movie is aimed at kids and the graphics don't come close to holding up, but the themes and pure fun of the film can still light embers in even the blackest of hearts. Duff plays Wendy, a pint-sized tween witch who is on the run when the most powerful warlock in the world Desmond Spellman (George Hamilton) finds out she might overtake him in the global witch rankings. He forces her and her three aunts — brunette, blonde and redhead witches that give off serious Hocus Pocus vibes — into hiding at a Catskills summer resort where Casper and his prankster uncles happen to be vacationing. (Fun fact: This Casper is voiced by Jeremy Foley, who played Caitlin's dorky cousin Griffin in the also very underrated Nickelodeon show Caitlin's Way).
Once there, the two runts of their family become fast friends, bonding over being taken for granted and straight-up enjoying each other's company. Their ability to form a bond and care for each other despite witches and ghosts allegedly being (im)mortal enemies is actually what gives them the power to defeat Desmond and cement Wendy as the No. 1 witch in the world.
Is it cheesy? Yes, but this Romeo & Juliet-esque friendship is actually exactly what we need in these divisive times. And while older films can often be quite problematic, Casper Meets Wendy is actually surprisingly feminist for its time. There is a "fleshy" boy at the camp who shows interest in Wendy and she could have easily chosen him over Casper seeing that he isn't, you know, a ghost. But when the boy tries to force Wendy into dating him, she rightfully stands up to him and throws him in the pool. Baby Duff isn't here for that kind of pressure and isn't afraid to put jerks in their place! Casper's creepy uncles are also similarly decked in the face when they get too handsy at the resort dance, showing young viewers' that this misogynistic treatment of women is not to be tolerated.
But the main reason Casper Meets Wendy deserves more love these days is that it embodies what Halloween should be about — it's FUN. It'll make you wish you had a wand and a ghost best friend, and there's no such thing as too much feel-good viewing these days. No one is trying to say that the sequel surpasses the original — we acknowledge it's a classic that can't be touched — but Casper Meets Wendy has its own merits and doesn't get the credit it deserves for how freakin' cute it is.
So treat yourself this Halloween, relax and let the witch times roll. You can watch Casper Meets Wendy for as low as $4 on Amazon.