Few sequels are as fondly remembered as their originals, but once in a blue moon, one exceeds our expectations. The Disney Channel Original Movie Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge is one of these exceptions, and Daniel Kountz is a major reason why. He played villain Kal, the son of Halloweentown's Kalabar, and stole the entire movie.
Kountz nailed the charming villainous role, and is still recognized 15 years later, especially around Halloween (but little kids aren't usually scared of him).
Fun fact: unlike most DCOMs, Halloweentown II was directed by a woman — and a very famous horror director at that. Mary Lambert, best known for directing Pet Sematary, really wanted to push Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge to a darker level than the first, according to Kountz, but had to work with Disney so the film wasn't too scary for a kids' movie. So, if you were traumatized by the big creature scene at the end, just remember it was originally meant to be even darker.
When asked what it was like to work with Lambert, Kountz totally gushed. “She's just a wonderful cool lady with all kinds of great quirky ideas, and really down to earth,” he told us. “It was just an honor to be able to work with her because I did watch Pet Sematary when I was younger... and it did freak me out, but I got a chance to work with the lady who did it. So that was pretty cool.”
One woman Kountz didn't get to work with on the movie, however, was Kal's mom — because she was never part of the film. Though there was never talk of including Kalabar's wife, Kountz speculated she wasn't around because she was actually good, and disagreed with her husband and son's evildoings and beliefs. So, she hopped on her Windsweeper 5000 and left her son to Kalabar's devices.
Obviously, Kal didn't stand a chance with just his dad around, which eventually led to his battle against Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly J. Brown). After she defeated him, Luke the Goblin (Phillip Van Dyke) said, “He’ll be back,” and Marnie replied, “We'll be waiting.” However, there is no mention of Kal in either Halloweentown High or Return to Halloweentown.
Kountz isn't sure why the series never followed through with this storyline, but he has a plausible theory. “I think they might’ve got new writers for the third one so maybe they just wanted to go in a different direction,” he offered. “That can happen with sequels and stuff. They have one idea at the end of one of them and then they come up with a thousand other ideas for the next one. So they just decided to go that way.” Of course, until recently, fans have been wondering where Kal flew off to at the end of Kalabar's Revenge. Thanks to Marnie herself, we know he's been in magic rehab and still has unresolved daddy issues.
Besides working with legendary director Lambert, Kountz was also thrilled to work with iconic actress Debbie Reynolds, who was apparently as sweet and bubbly off camera as she was on. He recounted a story involving the big high school dance scene where Reynolds saved the day, and without even using magic.
Filming for that day ran long and the 100 or so extras playing the partygoers were completely zonked after being on their feet for hours on end. Their energy was down, but there was still more to shoot. Despite being nearly 70 years old, Reynolds revived the crowd by singing and dancing and making everyone laugh. “I just remember being in awe of the fact that she had more energy than anybody else on set and she was, you know, a bit older than everybody,” Kountz recalled.
Also during that scene, Kountz was supposed to drop from the rafters and land onstage, proceeding to cast the Creature Spell. He actually was on the rafters — safely harnessed, of course — but things didn't go according to plan during one take. Kountz admitted he ended up plummeting 25 or 30 feet, instead of being lowered down by a pulley system. Thankfully, he didn't break anything, but since he never heard Lambert yell cut, he continued acting while standing on his sore feet. The other takes for that scene went down without a hitch, but for a moment, we almost lost our villain before Marnie even had a chance to defeat him.
Kountz's role is now the stuff of DCOM legend, but we could've lived in a world where someone else played Kal — such as Jared Padalecki. The future Supernatural star was also up for the role, and Kountz ran into him “on the 52nd floor of the Disney building for the final audition.” Whether Kountz beat out Padalecki or Padalecki was already booked for something else is uncertain, but it's simply impossible to imagine anyone else but Kountz playing Kal.
Today, Kountz is still acting and will star in the sci-fi film TRIPLE TIMe as his next project. He plays a theoretical physicist who invents a time machine, but future versions of himself keep returning to kill him. “I got to play all the different future versions of the same character, which was awesome and nerve-racking and scary and amazing all at the same time,” he said. The film currently doesn't have a website or Facebook page, but will hopefully premiere by the end of 2017.