10 Disney Channel Original Movies You Repressed But Deserve To Be Reminded Of
Taking a look back at 10 wrongfully forgotten Disney Channel Original Movies
Those of us in the 25–35 age range grew up in an era of television movie gold, thanks entirely to Disney Channel Original Movies.
Young, imaginative, and in the comfort of our homes we caught a superb selection of quirky coming of age tales, zany sci-fi comedies, and compelling little sports dramas, all of which tended to be built on the foundation of a sound moral lesson or two.
We all recall the classics: Smart House, where a motherly robotic voice terrorizes a family, or Luck Of The Irish, where a white guy was good at basketball. A couple of all-timers. Then there was Phantom Of The Megaplex, which isn’t crystal in my memory, but I recall there being some ghastly shit happening at a movie theater, and Mickey Rooney was in it and he looked like a water-logged chicken breast. Johnny Tsunami, Quints, and who could forget Double Teamed, where the tall blonde twins played basketball and showed me a thing or two about puberty.
We of course know those and have our personal fond staples. How about the forgotten Disney Channel Original Movie gems? The titles people have wrongfully left out of discussion. There’s plenty of minor hits that fell from the cultural zeitgeist. Maybe aging audiences just need a little walk down at-home adolescent cinema lane. Here are 7 Disney Channel Original Movies that deserve more love.
“Grind your way to love!” Maybe not the most age-appropriate tagline and infamous film catchphrase looking back, but the makers of Skateboard Formal, alternately titled Halfpipe Prom, meant well when constructing this off-the-wall preteen romantic sports dramedy. It’s a special hoot for skaters, potheads, or anyone who ever dreamt of skating a halfpipe at the upperclassmen winter formal! Peeping toms might see themselves reflected in humorous ways, too: “You like what you see, horn diggity?” Rumors of hard drug use and sadomasochistic sex rituals on set of Skateboard Formal spurred more stories and attention than the release of the film itself, which is perhaps why it left cultural discussion long ago.
My Dad’s A Dolphin?
A crying shame people forgot this dazzling sci-fi dark family comedy in which 10-year old sword swallower Leah discovers her abusive alcoholic father is, in fact, a dolphin. This slow-burn feature slightly falters in its twists, as there’s a big dead giveaway: dad’s always hanging around saltwater and squeaking. Still, this is a kooky ride nonetheless, and the father’s gradual acceptance of his existence as a dolphin as well as the crushing destruction and unmanageability of his alcoholism will tug at your heartstrings.
Ghost Of The JV Wrestling Equipment Room
The JV wrestling squad at Howard G. Peabody Holtz High School faces an unlikely demon; a most strange and menacing entity as they prepare for the district championship match against their rivals from Acorn Reform School For The Overly Large And Mentally Unwell. That’s right, a ghost is tormenting the JV wrestling boys, a crop of scrubs not athletically tough enough to make varsity, but ones mentally tough enough to fight through the psychological torment of demonic possession. This paranormal creature is dispersing heinous gasses, destroying toilets, and possessing cheerleaders into spreading life-ruining rumors about the wrestling boys. Or is there some truth to these rumors? This is a haunting and surreal number that isn’t to be missed (save for the several jokes that try to make light of assault.)
Don’t Tell Mom We’re Farmers
Few Disney Channel Original movies have the effervescent heart and light laughs of Don’t Tell Mom We’re Farmers, and even fewer have the pitch black turn into exploitation territory. What begins as breezy comedy drastically shifts into sleazy, bloody, Italian B-movie-inspired fare. A disgusting number only for fans of gratuitous gore. Names like Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi, exploitative shock auteurs, come to mind as potential influences. Critics in the past called this flick, “A Disney-fied Cannibal Holocaust,” but as a cultured, I’d label it “A toned down Motel Hell with more realism.”
Of all the funny flicks that blessed our Disney Channel screens, Substitute Preacher is the funniest, and not just because of how shamelessly politically incorrect it is. The writers of this one were out for blood, poking fun at everybody: The school system, religious fanatics, coaches, preachers, the homeless, retail sales associates, sex workers, hicks, Koreans, nobody is safe from being joked about in this raunchy romp. The lines are endlessly quotable — “I wouldn’t let that scallop sniffer scrape the gum off my heel,” but obviously many of if not all the zingers have aged into cancellable offenses.
I’ve Got A Crush On A Sorcerer
Might ring a few bells now, right? “The one where the ginger kid’s mom was fuckin’ a goddamn sorcerer!” Exactly. A film so erotic was questionable for Disney, and it did spark slight outrage from dorky parents initially upon release, but we’ve collectively aged to a point where we can appreciate I’ve Got A Crush On A Sorcerer for the artistic, sensual children’s comedy it is. It still features saucy, unsavory acts, but it doesn’t tread crude realms. Producers were right to cut the infamous “pie gaping” scene from the original cut.
My Hamster’s In The Army
Potentially the most “Avant Garde” of any Disney Channel Original effort, My Hamster’s In The Army tells the story of a little boy’s rodent as it’s sent to the frontlines of the Iraq war. Loaded with cuteness and a cutting political message, this film gave us the opportunity to laugh, smile, and gain some insight into the US War and Propaganda machine. My Hamster’s In The Army takes a sad turn when little hamster, Phillip, gets loaded with shrapnel and dies, which happens strangely early in the film. Matters don’t get cheerier after Phillip’s end. Such a tragedy was maybe a bit macabre for young audiences, and while this film may be educational by today’s standards, it isn’t the usual delight one would expect these movies to be. Due to graphic depictions of violence it was originally banned from airing on Disney in
The Screams Echoed Throughout 4th Period Study Hall
Somewhat of a youthful take on the giallo, The Screams Echoed Throughout 4th Period Study Hall pits a class of preteens against a mysterious masked murderer who’s picking off female victims and pooping in garbage cans. “Misogynistic,” “Trashy,” and “Violent Drivel” were descriptors some critics used upon release, while one particular horny critic described it as “the kid’s gateway to dark and sexy Italian horror cinema.” The pooping in garbage cans concept was never fully explained, but the film has become a cult classic for that reason alone.
“Toilet Baby,” set to the tune of “Pretty Woman” — Who could forget that infectious intro song? Some of you unfortunately did. A teen mother gives birth in a Bob Evans bathroom and leaves the newborn in a toilet tank, before all insanity ensues! A rather twisty, riveting thriller, Toilet Baby entertains but also teaches audiences a lesson in safe sex, and serves as a reminder to always check the back of a toilet for infants and fetuses when in a chain restaurant bathroom.