Teen Witch (1989) – By Duane L. Martin

 

Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) is just an average high school student who’s about to turn sixteen. (Robyn was actually seventeen at the time, so for once you didn’t have an adult playing a teenager.) She’s not overly popular, nor is she an outcast per se. She just “is”. She has a best friend who’s also around the same level as her socially, and she’s popular with the drama teacher Ms. Malloy (Marsha Wallace). She’s also got a crush on the hottest guy in school, but he’s already dating one of the rich girls, so she thinks he never really notices her. All in all, it’s the same rather standard high school existence that most kids experience. That all changes however one night after she has an accident on her bike as she’s riding home and has to stop at the home of a psychic woman / palmist named Madame Serena (Zelda Rubinstein), whom you may know from the film Poltergeist. Oddly enough, she played a psychic in that one as well, only in this film she’s actually playing a witch whose powers are fading.

The deal is, Robyn is about to get her witchly powers when she turns sixteen in another week, and Madame Serena helps to guide her in learning about and using her new found powers. So what would you do if you were a teenager who could basically make pretty much antyhing happen? That’s right. She uses her powers to become the most popular girl in school, and to get Brad (Dan Gauthier), the man of her dreams, to fall in love with her. Soon enough she finds out that being overly popular isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and learns an important lesson about life. It’s better to have people like you for you. That way you know it’s genuine.

Robyn Lively was an absolute doll as a teenager, and she was a familiar face as well, having appeared in numerous television series and movies during that era. The great thing about her is that she never stopped acting, like so many actors and actresses do after they rise to popularity at such a young age. They soon find that fame is fleeting, and the cute, young kid who was so very popular, suddenly isn’t so popular as they enter adulthood. Robyn first appeared in a TV movie in 1978, but then really started her career in 1983, and she’s been working steady ever since.

This film is full of cheese, as were most teenager films from the eighties. It’s also got a trio of white rappers that will literally make you embarrassed to be from the same species as them, Dick Sergeant and Caren Kaye playing Louise’s parents, and some cheeseball song and dance routines that are terminally cringe worthy. Speaking of cringe, another familiar face from back then is Joshua Miller as Louise’s little brother Richie. He was in quite a few television shows and movies back then as well, and as such is also a familiar face, especially for those who were teenagers during that era. Unlike Robyn however, his career basically ended in 1999, with the exception of one final movie appearance in 2007.

For special features, this new release from Kino Lorber includes audio commentary with Robyn Lively, Joshua Miller, Dan Gauthier, and Mandy Ingber, an on camera interview with Lively, Gauthier, Ingber, and Lisa Fuller, an on camera interview with the Weir Brothers, and the film’s original trailer. This is a beautiful release of the film and it has some nice special features, and yet it has no subtitles, which I found disappointing.

This film is a lot of fun, and the sheer cheese of it will have you smiling frequently. Not only that, but Robyn, especially in the final scene, is just an absolute heartbreaker. The best part about it is, it’s not just one you’d watch and then stick back on the shelf. This is a film that can be enjoyed repeatedly. In fact, I’m strongly considering popping it in again right now. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this one for your collection. You won’t regret it.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here: https://www.kinolorber.com/film/teenwitch