Lizzie McGuire – Night of the Day of the Dead (2001)

Lizzie McGuire - Pumpkin Head

College was a time of discovery for me, as with everyone else. I wrote my first move review “Catman Can Eat My Fetid Shit,” slept through an entire Miami International Film Festival weekend (Miami stinks), and learned how brilliant the Disney channel is. Learning reinforced nearly everyday right after Judge Judy’s hour of power.

It wouldn’t take long for me to draw everyone around me in too. Philosophical debates about the ethical interpretations of Air Bud. Passing my Film Criticism class by deconstructing Smart House and Brink! while everyone else pretended to really understand Truffaut’s meanings 50 years after the fact. Debord wasn’t talking to us, he was speaking to our long dead grandparents. Tonight’s “feature” (actually an episode) holds a special significance for me in this regard, as it’s another relic from my college years.

Lizzie McGuire - Woodchip Bucket of Puke

As the tale was related to me, one year my sister was out Christmas shopping with her boyfriend. She picked up the Lizzie McGuire collection (I believe they were still VHS back then) and her boyfriend mentioned, “I thought you said your sister was older than you? Graduated from college and stuff.”

“She is. I’m buying this for my brother.”

It was quite interesting to meet this man afterwards. He no longer had to wonder why my sister kept the Even Stevens Movie permanently recorded on her DVR.

“Dude, you like metal? Check out this Pig Destroyer album; it’s fantastic. Oh shit, Even Stevens!”

Lizzie McGuire - Dia de los Muertos Curse

I’m not certain if Even Stevens ever had a Halloween episode, though I’d like to believe they did. Halloween isn’t exactly a fringe holiday, and Disney has nearly a week’s worth of Halloweentown programming. So tonight I offer Lizzie McGuire’s “Night of the Day of the Dead.”

Watching it now, I can only hope this is quantum leaps behind the Witches of Waverly Place or whatever Disney show is now popular with the kids. The jokes Lizzie’s brother Matt (Jake Thomas) delivers are horrible. I don’t know if I should be disappointed in the writing, or amazed that they captured the comedic sensibilities of a seven year-old so accurately.

Though kids still do make the old “you’re wearing the world’s ugliest person costume” joke to this day. And it’s never been funny, not even once.

Lizzie McGuire - Dia de los Muertos Haunting

I’ve never noticed how horrible the voice of Lizzies mother’s is. Hallie Todd looks like a tinier, more pixie-like Jenna Elfman (if that’s even possible), but she sounds like she has a huge load of phlegm lodged in her throat and she’s too polite to tell the director.

So Lizzie’s school is having a “Fright Night,” Lizzie has to take her brother, and there’s a Dia de los Muertos subplot to give the inevitable haunting scares a sheen of plausibility.

Lizzie McGuire - Zombie Matt

“I need some gross stuff for my costume. I’m going as me, turned inside out!”

Okay, Matt’s lines are now hit-and-miss, with the above example being a greet example of how things go right.

Lizzie’s friend Gordo’s (Adam Lamberg) non-believing spirit gets trapped in a Burger Buddy. They don’t explain exactly what a Burger Buddy is, but with a name like that, you don’t have to. Everyone will want one regardless.

Are far as mysteries crammed into a 20 minute vehicle, “Night of the Day of the Dead” is surprisingly decent. No filler, dangling plot points, or weak payoffs; Disney is, of course, a behemoth, and they have sitcoms down to a science. All the episode’s scares tying into Gordo’s advise from the show’s beginning; all the action, the scares, a huge ruse to upstage the snotty Kate (Ashlie Brillault).

Lizzie McGuire - Trapped

While not much for horror dorks to write home about, this episode is like a pure distillation of the essence of Halloween. You get the whole Fall vibe from watching it, even if it forces you to realize that your school’s volunteer haunted house was horrible compared to the one Lizzie puts on.

I’ve been reflecting recently on the thrill of Halloween, and what it is that I enjoy about the movies I gush about most versus what everyone else thinks. Halloween doesn’t equal horror, though both often get confused.

Lizzie McGuire - Haunting

Halloween is that child-like feeling of uncertainty, when you know what is in front of you isn’t real, but you’re not old enough yet to be 100% sure. Which is why the B-movies of the ’50s and ’60s hold such a special place for many of us. Back then, there’d always be a tie-in at the end to square the story with local morals. The bad guy was defeated, the sinner redeemed, etc. There was always an answer, a greater good to work toward.

Now it’s just spooky, haunted basements and gore.


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