Something weird this way comes…
By October 1993, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, then 7, were the youngest self-made millionaires, having started their careers at the ripe old age of eight months old when they were cast as Michelle Tanner on Full House. And they quickly started an empire, even launching their own company Dualstar, which would go on to produce all of their straight-to-VHS movies, including, of course, Double, Double Toil and Trouble.
The TV movie premiered on ABC on October 30, 1993, and has gone on to become a somewhat overlooked Halloween film, aside from the Olsen twins’ loyal followers who grew up obsessed with the sisters’ every song and movie. But it’s a low-key campy delight, filled with lots of ’90s nostalgia and WTF moments that just aren’t fawned over enough on the Internet for our liking.
In honor of the made-for-TV movie’s 25th anniversary, let’s revisit the craziest behind-the-scene and on-screen treats about Double, Double Toil and Trouble…
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1. The title of the movie comes straight from Act IV, Scene I of William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth, naturally.
2. This is the logline for the movie, per IMDB: “On Halloween night, two precocious little girls try to save their parents from the greedy clutches of their nasty old Capitalist aunt. Magic abounds and they meet new albeit strange friends along the way.” Oh, just wait until you meet those strange friends.
3. That “nasty old Capitalist aunt” is Aunt Agatha, who is actually a witch (though she does love money). Cloris Leachman chews all of the scenery and then some more for dessert as Aunt Agatha, as well as Aunt Sophia, the “good” twin and witch who is trapped in a mirror. Fun fact: The original writer of Hocus Pocus actually wrote the role of Winifred Sanderson with Leachman in mind. Bette Midler eventually got the part instead, turning in a truly iconic performance in the movie, which also came out in 1993.
4. Kelly (Mary-Kate) and Lynn’s (Ashley) dad is played by Eric McCormack pre-Will & Grace fame, and basically kicks off the parade that is Olsen twins’ streak of hot fictional dads over the years. (Future DILFs include Tom Amandes, Steve Guttenberg, Matt McCoy, etc.)
5. The movie begins with the twins attending a Halloween party, where a large group of children are treated to a magic show by Oscar the Clown (Phil Fondacaro)…and not one child cries in the presence of the clown, which we call foul. Also, Oscar is Strange Friend No. 1.
6. Later, when Kelly and Lynn’s parents decide to go to Aunt Agatha’s house to ask for a loan in order to avoid losing their house, they leave their seven-year-old daughters unattended in the car. We repeat: two seven-year-olds were left unattended in car. (As soon as they are gone, Lynn immediately climbs over to the driver’s seat, pretending to drive.)
7. Of course, this lapse in parental judgment leads the girls to meet strange friend No. 2: Gravedigger (Wayne Robson). Yes, that is the character’s credited name, and yes, he is digging a grave when he meets the girls, spooked by the fact that they are twins.
8. When Gravedigger tells the girls the tale of Agatha and Sophia and the power of the moonstone, we are treated to flashbacks where the Olsens play the younger versions of Cloris Leachman’s characters. The wigs still haunt us to this day.
9. “Mom, when I get older, can I get a nose job?” A question a seven-year-old calmly asked their mom and dad.
10. The twins’ mom had absolutely no questions and/or concerns about the twins wanting to wear these costumes (so they could eventually switch with two other kids to run off on their adventure). WHAT ARE THESE COSTUMES SUPPOSED TO BE?!?!
11. Agatha keeps her precious money in a literal sack…and it’s all singles. We guess this is what “filthy rich” people do? Can any filthy rich person please advise?
12. Meet Strange Friend No. 3: aka Mr. N (played with surprising charm by Designing Women star Meshach Taylor, who passed away in 2014). Mr. N, short for Plato Naufzagger, is a homeless man who lives under the bridge in town and decides to tag along with the girls once he hears about the moonstone, which could be worth a pretty penny. So yeah, he wants to steal a moonstone from two seven-year-olds, but will eventually learn friendship is the most valuable treasure of all. Talk about character evolution!
13. The new trio decide to go visit a psychic, Madame Lulu, where we quickly learn Mr. N is not really British (but uses a fake accent anyway for the remainder of the film) and the medium is not really Romanian, but from Brooklyn. Stakes.
14. 1993 graphics, are we right?
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15. For some reason, Mr. N has “SOLE” written on the bottom of his shoe, which we see when the trio hitches a ride on the back of a pumpkin truck. During the ride, the girls sing the not-at-all annoying song (“I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves”), which they definitely sang behind the scenes as well.
16. After causing a huge pumpkin crash, Mr. N and the girls randomly stumble upon a very small house in the middle of the woods that would most definitely be featured on an HGTV show today. (It’s No. 3…but there are no other houses around and no street, so…?) And this is where we reunite with Oscar, out of his clown make-up, who agrees to join their adventure after hearing the whole witch backstory, no questions asked.
17. While getting ready for the gathering, the annual witch meet-up, Agatha takes out a tube of mascara, which somehow colors her entire head of hair black. (Can’t she just use her powers for this? Just sayin’!)
18. Oh, it’s probably important to note here that the moonstone used as a prop is green, which is the stone of feminine energy. It can protect women and children, stimulate emotional balance and self-love, and can help relieve menstrual cramps. (We’ll take the lot!)
19. As the witches are chasing the group after they’ve stolen the moonstone (by having Oscar sit on Mr. N’s shoulders and pretend to be a v. powerful being who could double its powers if Agatha just handed it over, of course), one of them is trailing behind the others and yells, “I’m in heels, ya know?” Reader, she is not in heels.
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20. HOURS AFTER THEIR KIDS HAVE SWITCHED COSTUMES AND RAN OFF TO FIND A WITCHES’ GATHERING TO STEAL A MOONSTONE SO THEY SAVE THEIR HOUSE FROM FORECLOSURE, our parents of the year (1993) realize Kelly and Lynn have ran away. And when they go to the cops, the officer is waaay too chill about two seven-year-old blonde twins being missing, telling them to just retrace their trick-or-treating route and come back to file a Missing Person report at the 24-hour mark. In 2018, you KNOW we’d all be woken up by an Amber Alert in this sitch.
21. OK, prepare for the return of the Gravedigger, who finally joins in on the adventure when he happens to live in a billboard exactly above where the witches’ gathering is held. Listen, they had 90 minutes to cram all this in and sometimes corners need to be cut. Just go with it.
22. After Lynn is taken by Agatha, the group (with Mr. N now in crow form after Agatha cursed him) heads back to her house with the moonstone to try and free Aunt Sophia. But there is only one window open at the very top of the house, so there’s only one thing to do: blow up every balloon Oscar has in his clown car and fly him right up there.
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23. Thanks to the power of twin love, Kelly and Lynn are able to free Sophia from the mirror, banishing Agatha into it in order to stop her wicked ways. Their parents show up soon after and are not at all concerned that their daughters have befriended a gravedigger, a clown or a transient (even if they are lovely).
24. Aunt Sophia, high on getting out of the mirror after almost seven years, tells everyone: “This is a second home for all of us. We’re a family now.”
25. This TV movie is Emmy nominated, folks: Composer Richard Bellis was up for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special.
Double, Double Toil and Trouble is available to stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime and YouTube.
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