Post-Ghostbusters but pre-Julie and the Phantoms, Disney Channel was busy dishing out tricks and treats with Halloween movies like Under Wraps, Halloweentown, and Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire. But, almost 20 years since its release date, one movie I can't shake from the back of my mind is The Scream Team, mainly because the plot is surprisingly terrifying. I used to have nightmares about this movie every October as a kid, so it only felt natural that I should check it out again as an adult, and let me tell ya, those nightmares were 100 percent justified.
Zachariah Kull, the villain of the film, was an inventor in the 1800s who burned down his cabin with his wife still inside. While it's later proven that the fire was an accident sparked by a faulty invention he created using natural gas, Zachariah is seen as a criminal for centuries because of town lore. Over 200 years later, the vengeful ghost spends his time in the afterlife shooting fireballs at innocent families and hanging out in the chambers of an abandoned coal mine, where he keeps the souls he's collected in a pit to act as his life force. So, yeah, it's all more than a little questionable.
Still, the film has its funny and lighthearted moments thanks to a band of eccentric ghosts and the hilarious cast, including Kat Dennings (Claire), Hocus Pocus's Kathy Najimy (Mariah), Monty Python's Eric Idle (Coffin Ed), The Proud Family's Tommy Davidson (Jumper), and Hannibal's Mark Rendall (Ian). Despite Zachariah's terrifying backstory, the misfit gang of ghosts make the movie feel a lot more like a Disney feature and definitely increased my final ranking of the film. Relive the 2002 Halloween movie with me ahead, and if anyone else is still puzzling over the idea of a 50-foot-tall ghost that shoots fire from his hands, please let me know.
What's with this funky intro theme? I kind of . . . like it?
OK, early-2000s Disney Channel, I see you with those cool ghost graphics.
*Pumpkin gets violently crushed* What . . . is happening?
Omg, it's Kat Dennings!
Nooooo, dad, they were just reminiscing about the good times with their grandpa, SMH.
OK, who else has an overly emotional relative who gives unsolicited hugs?
Ian heard a creepy voice whispering his name while he was alone in the basement and didn't run upstairs screaming?!
Zachariah Kull . . . Kull? Skull? Zkull?
He set their cabin on fire with his wife still in it???! OK, what? Are we sure this is a kids' movie?
"They say he still roams the hills seeking his revenge." Yikes, this ghost needs a hobby.
Is that . . . the Babadook?
OMG, he can throw fireballs with his hands?!
Ohhhh, now it makes sense why I had nightmares about this guy as a kid.
SMH, parents never believe you when there are ghosts, but sometimes there are ghosts!
Jean jackets really make every outfit work, don't they?
I'm all about this small-town Halloween aesthetic.
*Warner slows down to talk to kids* Er, sir, driving slowly to talk to children as they walk down the street is more than a little creepy.
*Ian rolls in a machine that looks like a 300-year-old vacuum* Ah, yes, ancient ghost-busting tools.
OMG, a pirate ghost! Also, is that the guy from Monty Python?
So, ghosts turn into waves of light and vampires turn into bats? Noted.
Yup, you gotta have a good old-fashioned cobblestone haunted house with a dilapidated entryway and scraggly trees out front or it wouldn't be a Halloween movie.
OMG, it's Mary Sanderson from Hocus Pocus!
Wait, I recognize that voice. It's Oscar Proud!
*Sees Claire's rhinestone heart top* Did I . . . used to have that shirt?
Oh no, the kids summoned Zachariah! PS: he needs a major manicure.
He's basically Sweeney Todd, if Sweeney Todd could shoot balls of fire from his hands.
OK, I might have actual adult nightmares about this flame-throwing demon ghost.
Mmhm, mmhm, just break into the creepy abandoned mine entrance in the woods.
Ah, yes, Zachariah's true form is a tornado of fire that chills underground.
They got him! . . . Wait, the machine was defective.
Um, you'd better hope that rope is nice and long because that pit looks like it goes straight to the center of the Earth.
Whoa, those ghost faces in the walls are just like that scene in Hercules where he's swirling in the pool of souls.
Disney really made the most out of the wind machine in this movie, huh?
How was Kat Dennings so cool at 16? Nobody was cool at that age, right?
All right, the grandpa's creepy friend is getting on my last nerve.
Zachariah burned "stay away" into the front lawn. Maybe leave him be, yeah?
Of course there's a big, scary crater in the woods.
What is it about the way Disney Channel Halloween movies are filmed that makes you go back in time a little bit?
Warner's mailbox flag is a hammer? That's not weird . . .
Hold up! Zachariah didn't burn down his cabin or kill his wife on purpose? He was framed all along?!
OK, but that doesn't take back the fact that he's a rampaging ghost who starts IRL fires.
So, one of his inventions malfunctioned and started the house fire?
The town carnival seems like a bit much. I'm looking at you, burning effigy of Zachariah Kull.
I'm starting to think Warner might be more evil than Zachariah.
Oh, so Zachariah was actually mad because the festival was made to dishonor him? Got it.
Claire: "What about Becca? You told her to wait for you? How much longer is she going to have to wait?" Aw, how much longer, Zachariah?!
Hmmm, Rebecca actually looks a lot like Claire.
Yay! They saved the town, reunited Zachariah and Rebecca, and the grandpa stayed behind because he wanted to tell his son he was proud of him before crossing over - so sweet.
This movie was a wild ride, but I can see why I watched it so much as a kid. It gets a solid 7/10 in my book.