If you are a millennial and didn’t live under a rock, you grew up watching Teen Witch (1989) on The Disney Channel and ABC Family/Freeform. It was always on heavy rotation around Halloween and a staple of Freeform’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween/31 Nights of Halloween.
For those who don’t know about Teen Witch: It’s about a high-schooler named Louise Miller. Louise has everything. She is gorgeous. She has a best friend and awesome style. Then she meets a seer named Madame Serena, who tells Louise she’s actually a witch. So Louise really has everything.
Madame Serena gives Louise an amulet that helps her unlock her witchy powers on her 16th birthday — a magical age for any teen. Louise casts a love spell on her crush Brad, and we’re treated to a saxophone-solo-filled love scene that embodies the tastefulness of the late 80s.
Soon Louise has used her powers to become the most popular girl in school. She even helps her best friend get with a crush of her own. But in the end, Louise decides she’s happier without magic. She gives the amulet back to Madame Serena and continues to date Brad, who has discovered that he likes Louise without the love spell.
Like Hocus Pocus (1993), another beloved millennial witch movie, Teen Witch did miserably at the box office. It made only $27,843 in its entire theatrical run! Whoops. It wasn’t until its prolific appearance on TV that the movie gained a following. Teen Witch is now remembered as a cult classic late 80s/90s movie that was an iconic part of childhood for millennials.
If this movie seems a little bizarre even by 80s standards, it’s helpful to understand that studios saw Teen Witch as the female version of Teen Wolf (1985) starring Michael J. Fox that had done $85 million at the box office a few years earlier. So it was a copycat film, except with a female lead as a witch, not a male as a werewolf.
Here are some of the favorite deep cuts, fun facts, and other stories about Teen Witch.
Fun Teen Witch Facts/Trivia
1. The most important topic of conversation when talking about Teen Witch is the “Top That” rap battle. This extremely memorable scene takes place when Louise and Polly are riding bikes and come across Polly’s crush, Rhett, and his friends dancing and singing along to music. Louise uses her powers to give Polly some super-confidence, and Polly approaches Rhett and engages him in a rap battle. She wins and walks away, knowing he has finally noticed her.
Most fans don’t know that this entire scene was not originally in the movie. After production had already wrapped, producers decided they needed a rap battle and wrote the scene, brought the cast back, gave them some choreography, and the rest is history. In a 2018 interview with People, the cast members clarify that they did NOT think the rap battle was going to be cool. Noah Blake says, “There was not any moment in time that I ever thought what I was doing was cool. There was no moment I was ever not in peril that this would be just totally humiliating. Little did I know that it was going to be this strange, sort of sub-pop-culture iconic thing.”
2. The same interview in People also reveals the dramatic way the world has changed since the late 80s. The cast members involved in the rap battle said they assumed if the movie was embarrassing it wouldn’t do well and would be released straight to video. After a few years, the movie would pretty much disappear, and the actors could live the rest of their lives without everyone knowing about this iconic rap battle. As we all know, that’s no longer how things work in the digital age. Now everything embarrassing lives forever. And it’s indexed and easily searchable.
3. Pop singer Debbie Gibson almost played Louise Miller, but the role went to Robyn Lively. That’s cool because Robyn’s sister is Blake Lively, so the sisters both got to play “It Girls” of different generations. This does make me annoyed at the lack of Teen Witch allusions on Gossip Girl, though. It would have been so funny if they’d made some kind of joke about Lily van der Woodsen having an errant older daughter who dabbled in witchcraft.
4. Robyn and Blake’s mom created a lot of the looks seen throughout the movie; some were even Robyn’s real clothes.
5. The whole Lively family did the Teen Witch dance from the end of the movie at Blake Lively’s wedding to Ryan Reynolds.
6. Ellen DeGeneres almost had a role as one of the teachers at Louise’s high school. This would have been five years before Ellen and 14 before The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
7. Madame Serena’s house was also in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video! The “Sanders House” as it’s known was built in 1887. They used a soundstage for the set inside the home, and there were no steps on the actual house, so when you see Robyn leave “Serena’s house,” she is just pretending to go downstairs.
8. The actors who play high-school sweethearts Brad and Lisa fell in love and got married in real life after making this movie together. Gross!
9. There is a Teen Witch musical. You can stream it on Amazon Prime.
10. Louise’s father is played by Dick Sargent, who played Samantha’s husband on Bewitched.
11. Amanda Ingber, who plays Louise’s best friend Polly Goldenberg-Cohen, studied yoga after filming the movie and is now a yoga instructor to the stars! She’s taught Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Hunt, and Brooke Shields. She has also written books on yoga and become a New York Times best-selling author.
12. When Louise is on a date and makes her date disappear, we never find out what happens to him in the movie. No one knows if this is a plot hole or if that man’s family is still looking for him.
13. Around 2009, Ashley Tisdale was attached to a Teen Witch remake. No disrespect to Ashley, but I can safely say that NO ONE wanted this film to be made, and it eventually died in development.
14. The actor playing Louise’s love interest, Dan Gauthier, was 26 at the time of filming, and he’s playing a high-school student.
15. Robyn Lively tells this incredible story about being famous in the early 90s. She was dating Jason Priestley, famous at the time as Brandon Walsh on Beverly Hills, 90210: “We went to a party at Ricki Lake’s house, and she freaked out when she saw me. She’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re Teen Witch! My gay best friend and I love your movie. We know every line, all the dance moves, all the songs.”