18 Facts About Teen Witch—Top That!

MGM Home Entertainment
MGM Home Entertainment

If you’ve had the pleasure of catching a screening of Teen Witch over the past 30 years—on television, at a live sing-along, or on an old-school VHS—you know that Louise Miller is a teenager with magical powers who is gonna be the most popular girl at her high school. But here are 18 things you might not know about the 1989 cult classic.

1. Teen Witch was pitched as a female version of Teen Wolf.

While the final version of the film bears some obvious similarities to Teen Wolf—a teen balancing high school life with his or her supernatural abilities—it originally intended to borrow the title font, tagline, and general plot from the 1985 Michael J. Fox hit. Eventually, Teen Witch morphed into an original work.

2. The movie was a box office bomb.

Shot on a budget of $2.5 million, Teen Witch wasn’t able to conjure up any magical box office numbers. It made just $3875 in its opening weekend, and had a total domestic gross of $27,843 for its entire run. It was via subsequent airings on cable and ABC Family that its popularity began to grow.

3. Teen Witch's music is its crowning achievement.

Love it or hate it, Teen Witch’s odd—and some might say nonsensical—supernatural elements and teen rom-com moments are part of its charm. But its singing and dancing are what have cemented its place in pop culture history. Nerve.com may have described it best when it once called the movie’s famously terrible “Top That” rap as “everything wonderful and terrible about [the 1980s] rolled into one misguided appropriation of hip-hop.” As a result, Teen Witch sing-alongs have become popular events in major cities, from New York to San Francisco.

4. Unfortunately, you can't purchase the Teen Witch soundtrack.

The producers of Teen Witch clearly did not anticipate that it would become a pop culture phenomenon, so the film’s original budget did not include funding for a soundtrack release. Fortunately, there is YouTube.

5. A live musical recording of Teen Witch does exist.

As the film continued to grow in popularity, the film’s musical producers—Larry and Tom Weir—decided to re-record the soundtrack with new performers. In 2007, they released Teen Witch The Musical on Amazon and iTunes. It was released in anticipation of a Broadway-bound musical (which has yet to materialize).

6. The Groundlings performed a live version, too.

The renowned Los Angeles improv group—which counts Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Paul Reubens, and Maya Rudolph among its alumni—launched a live version of the show, Teen Witch: The Musical, in 2013.

7. Teen Witch's popularity makes songwriter Larry Weir think people are "pretty messed up."

In a 2007 interview with Austinist, Teen Witch songwriter Larry Weir acknowledged the movie’s cheesiness. “What’s crazy is that we have been to screenings all over the country, in Seattle, San Francisco and even Manhattan, and for every screening there have been lines around the block and packed theaters, which leads me to believe that there are some pretty messed up people out there,” he joked. “In San Francisco it was almost like being at a concert, they cranked the audio up and it was wild."

8. Robyn Lively blames her bad dancing on being "The Most Popular Girl."

“I took all the dancing too seriously at the time,” star Robyn Lively, who played Louise Miller, told BuzzFeed in 2014. “I was a little more self-conscious back then. And when I had to do the ‘most popular girl’ spin inside the bedroom, I had twisted my ankle. I’m going to blame most of my bad dancing on the ankle.”

9. Louise Miller's dad had a history with witches.

Louise’s father, Frank, was played by actor Dick Sargent, who was no stranger to sorcery. From 1969 to 1972, he played (the second) Darrin Stephens—husband to Samantha and father to Tabitha—on the popular series Bewitched.

10. In many of the musical numbers, the film's audio and video are out of sync.

This is particularly apparent in the infamous “Top That” rap.

11. Mandy Ingber counts Teen Witch as one of her worst summer jobs.

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In a 2013 interview with Diet Detective, actress-turned-yogi Mandy Ingber, who played Louise’s best friend Polly, recalled that her “most noteworthy ‘bad summer job’ was the summer I did Teen Witch ... It haunts me, as the ‘rap’ I did for this ’80s movie lives on through the Internet. I think that’s the best of the worst.”

12. A drag queen named Peaches Christ taught Joshua Miller to appreciate the film.

In a 2013 interview with VICE, Joshua Miller—who played Louise’s obnoxious little brother Richie—admitted that it took some time for him to understand the movie’s appeal. “It wasn’t until years later though, when a drag queen named Peaches Christ started hosting midnight screenings of Teen Witch in San Francisco, that I began to appreciate it,” he admitted. “He invited me to one, and prior to the screening he sat me down and explained that as a teenager he could see that I was not like the other boys; that there was something sexually ambiguous about me that gave him a sense of comfort, especially in Teen Witch. That meant the world to me. From then on, I was proud. I don’t take compliments from drag queens lightly, because they have no problem telling you what time it is. There’s no f***ing bulls***."

13. Joshua Miller is part of a famous family.

Though he was just 14 years old at the time of Teen Witch’s release, Joshua Miller was no stranger to Hollywood. Miller is the son of playwright and Oscar-nominated actor Jason Miller (who played Father Karras in The Exorcist) and Russ Meyer muse Sue Bernard. His grandfather, Bruno Bernard, was one of the world’s first celebrity photographers. And he is the half-brother of actor Jason Patric. But Miller wasn’t the only famous son on set. Polly’s funky “Top That” cohort Noah Blake is the son of actor-turned-murder suspect Robert Blake.

14. Madame Serena's house had a starring role in Thriller.

The creepy Victorian house that Zelda Rubinstein, as Madame Serena, calls home in Teen Witch is the same Los Angeles abode where Michael Jackson turned into a werewolf in the video for “Thriller.”

15. Robyn Lively's mom is responsible for Louise's awesome '80s style.

“My mom was really the one who created the entire style for Teen Witch,” Lively told BuzzFeed about Louise Miller’s totally ’80s wardrobe. “I’m dead serious. She was super involved, and is super creative, so I wore a lot of my actual clothes in the movie. Truly, Louise was my mom’s vision. She really created an iconic character.”

16. A TEEN WITCH REMAKE WAS ANNOUNCED IN 2008.

In 2008, Variety reported that High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale would recreate the role of Louise Miller in a Teen Witch remake. And in 2010, Tisdale talked about how (unlike in the original) the new Teen Witch would actually do some of her own singing. But it’s nine years later now and no production start date has been announced and Tisdale is 33 years old, so ...

17. Blake Lively and ryan Reynolds had a Teen Witch wedding moment.

When Robyn Lively’s younger sister, Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, married Ryan Reynolds in 2012, she wanted to give her a gift she’d never forget. “My younger sister and younger brother are huge Teen Witch fans,” the elder Lively told Pop My Culture Podcast. “So for [Blake's] wedding, my younger brother and I got together and figured out how to do that last scene, the ‘Finest Hour’ dance ... I got a blue dress, a blue tutu, and the music comes on. I had the necklace remade. I took it off and threw it to her. We did the whole dance!”

18. BUT BRAD AND RANDA LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

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Louise gets the guy in the end of the movie. But in real life, high school stud Brad (Dan Gauthier) ended up with Louise’s teen rival, Randa (Lisa Fuller). “They dated while making the movie and got married shortly after the movie wrapped,” Lively—who admitted to harboring a major crush on Gauthier—told BuzzFeed. “I was heartbroken, but I still went to their wedding. Brad and Randa really lived happily ever after.”

Updated for 2019.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Surprising Facts About Wham!’s 'Last Christmas'

Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Over the course of his illustrious career, George Michael gave the world many gifts. One that keeps on giving is “Last Christmas,” the 1984 holiday classic by Wham!, Michael's pop duo with Andrew Ridgeley. “Last Christmas” is such a uniquely beloved song that it inspired a 2019 film of the same name. That’s just one interesting part of the “Last Christmas” story. Read on for 10 fascinating facts about this seasonal synth-pop favorite.

1. George Michael wrote "Last Christmas" in his childhood bedroom.

“Last Christmas” was born one day in 1984 when George Michael and Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley were visiting Michael’s parents. While they were sitting around watching TV, Michael suddenly dashed upstairs to his childhood bedroom and composed the modern Xmas classic in about an hour. “George had performed musical alchemy, distilling the essence of Christmas into music,” Ridgeley said. “Adding a lyric which told the tale of betrayed love was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he touched hearts."

2. “Last Christmas” isn’t really a Christmas song.

There’s nothing in “Last Christmas” about Santa, reindeer, trees, snow, or anything we typically associate with the holiday. Rather, the song is about a failed romance that just happens to have begun on December 25, when Michael gave someone his heart, and ended on December 26, when this ungrateful person “gave it away.”

3. George Michael wrote and produced the song—but that’s not all.

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

By the time Wham! recorded “Last Christmas” in August (yes, August) 1984, Michael had taken full control of the group. In addition to writing and producing the song, Michael insisted on playing the Roland Juno-60 synth in the studio. “George wasn’t a musician,” engineer Chris Porter said. “It was a laborious process, because he was literally playing the keyboards with two or three fingers.” Michael even jangled those sweet sleigh bells himself.

4. “Last Christmas” didn’t reach #1 on the UK charts.

As the movie Love Actually reminds us, scoring a Christmas #1 in the UK is a really big deal. Unfortunately, “Last Christmas” didn’t give Wham! that honor. It stalled at #2, and to this day it has the distinction of being the highest-selling UK single of all time to not reach #1.

5. George Michael sang on the song that kept “Last Christmas” at #2.

“Last Christmas” was bested on the UK charts by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” an all-star charity single benefiting Ethiopian famine relief. Michael sang on “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” and was so committed to the cause that he donated his profits from “Last Christmas” to helping the African nation.

6. George Michael was sued for plagiarism over “Last Christmas.”

In the mid-1980s, the publishing company Dick James Music sued George Michael on behalf of the writers of “Can’t Smile Without You,” a schmaltzy love song recorded by The Carpenters and Barry Manilow, among others. According to Chris Porter, the recording engineer on “Last Christmas,” the suit was dismissed after a musicologist presented 60-plus songs that have a similar chord progression and melody.

7. "Last Christmas" has been covered by a lot of other artists.

Michael Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy Eat World, Hilary Duff, Good Charlotte, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani, and Taylor Swift are just a few of the artists who’ve covered “Last Christmas” over the years. The strangest rendition may be the 2006 dance version by the Swedish CGI character Crazy Frog, which reached #16 on the UK charts.

8. Some people make a concerted effort to avoid hearing “Last Christmas.”

While millions of people delight in hearing “Last Christmas” every year, an internet game called Whamageddon encourages players to avoid the song from December 1 to 24. The rules are simple: Once you hear the original Wham! version of “Last Christmas” (remixes and covers don’t count), you’re out. You then admit defeat on social media with the hashtag #Whamageddon and wait for your friends to suffer the same fate. Note: The rules prohibit you from “deliberately sending your friends to Whamhalla.”

9. “Last Christmas” finally charted in America following George Michael’s death in 2016.

Back in 1984, “Last Christmas” wasn’t released as a commercial single in the United States, and therefore it wasn’t eligible for the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, Billboard changed its rules in 1998, and in the wake of George Michael’s unexpected death on Christmas Day 2016, the song finally made its Hot 100 debut. In December 2018, it reentered the charts and peaked at #25.

10. George Michael was involved in 2019's Last Christmas movie.

November 2019 saw the release of Paul Feig's Last Christmas, a romantic comedy inspired by the song starring Game of Thrones's Emilia Clarke. Producer David Livingstone came up with the idea while George Michael was still alive, and when he pitched the pop star on the project, he was given the greenlight—with one condition: Michael stipulated that actress and author Emma Thompson write the movie. Thompson co-authored the story and the screenplay, and she even wound up playing a supporting role.