Good news for every abandoned Toys “R” Us, the empty anchor store at your dead local mall, and that one building that used to be something else but you can’t remember what: Spirit Halloween is becoming a movie! No, you’re not confusing Spirit Halloween with something else, we’re really talking about the seasonal retail chain that sells spooky costumes and decorations for a few months out of the year and then disappears like it’s the secret meat-packing plant/nightclub full of models from Seinfeld. (Secret meat-packing plant/nightclub would be a good spot for a Spirit Halloween.)
At this point you’re probably wondering how a seasonal retail chain can be turned into a movie, and the answer is “very carefully.” Har har har. Seriously, though, this is a real news story and not a goofy joke that someone is making about the hacky, barrel-scraping nature of modern Hollywood, so desperate for some kind of film franchise that it’s buying up the rights to stores. Actually, it really does sound like a joke, so let’s double-check on that.
Ah yes, it says here in Variety that the movie based on the Spirit Halloween stores will star Christopher Lloyd, Rachel Leigh Cook, and “some new faces,” with David Poag (looks like he’s usually a cinematographer, based on his IMDb page) making his feature directorial debut on the project. Those are all real people, as far as we can tell, with Lloyd and Cook having appeared in films before, so that’s a few points in favor of this being a real thing and not a joke. If it were a joke, we’d say it’s starring a fake skeleton in a wig or one of those animatronic ghouls that holds a dish and when a kid reaches for candy it moves and laughs—you know, stuff you could find at a Spirit Halloween.
Anyway, the plot actually sounds disappointingly predictable: Some kids who think they’re too old for trick-or-treating get stuck inside a Spirit Halloween, and it turns out that the store is haunted and ghosts make the various decorations come to life. So maybe it does star a skeleton in a wig and an animatronic ghoul?
Noor Ahmed, who is producing Spirit Halloween through his Strike Back Studios label, says that the movie was inspired by The Goonies, Gremlins, Monster Squad, and “so many great films made by Amblin Entertainment,” which is all the same stuff that Stranger Things is based on, so that’s probably smart. Honestly, it seems like these are all the things you would do if you were making a movie based on the Spirit Halloween stores, so we can comfortably conclude that this is a real movie and not a joke. Probably.