Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School ★★

Fang-Tastic 

Director: Charles A. Nichols
Writer: Glenn Leopold
Cast: Don Messick, Casey Kasem, Glynis Johns, Susan Blu, Pat Musick, Russi Taylor, Marilyn Schreffler, Patty Maloney and Frank Welker
Rating: G
Release Date: October 16th 1988
Synopsis: Scooby, his somewhat more courageous nephew Scrappy Doo, and hygienically challenged human cohort Shaggy, take jobs as gym teachers at a highly suspicious girls' finishing school. Locked in the building in the dead of night, the dauntless trio find themselves in a classroom full of monsters and ghosts.

Plot

Scooby a Doo Ghoul School’s plot takes fifty minutes to start. It takes fifty minutes for the audience to be introduced to Revolta, our primary antagonist. Up until that point the audience is given scene after scene with no real contribution to any kind of narrative. It's terribly paced and totally confused, one moment it's a quirky comedy and the next it's a school drama. A whole ten minutes, or what felt like a lifetime, is dedicated to a Volleyball match between our lead Grimwood girls and the Calloway boys. This kind of action connotes fast pace, quick cuts or snappy dialogue - none of which is to be found here. It was boring and quite difficult to sit through and enjoy. Although the lack of plot is understandable, as the film is an obvious backdoor pilot, its certainly distracting and makes a majority of the film feel very dull. However, with all the complaining put to one side Ghoul School manages to succeed at two things; its characters and it's creativity. All five of the Grimwood girls not only felt original, but well fleshed out, engaging and interesting. Whilst the idea of the children of monsters has been done to death it still managed to feel fresh and original here thanks to the fantastic characterisation. Towards the end Shaggy gets kidnapped and drawn into a mirror by a Mirror Monster. The simple ingenuity was fun. Also if I hear one more pun I may have to run away to Croatia and live my life as a humble fisherman without technology as these telefilms humour is emotionally and physically draining.

Cast

Once again listening to Kasem’s performance as Shaggy is pure tranquility. The perfection is calming. Beyond this Don Messick as Scooby and Scrappy Doo was great, since Boo Brothers Messick toned down his Scrappy Doo performance making him that much more bearable. Not only are the Grimwood girls fantastically characterised, they are also very well performed. Marilyn Schreffler, Susan Blu, Pat Musick, Russi Taylor and Patty Maloney all give their corresponding girls huge personalities and a serious sense of identity. Furthermore, Frank Welker’s Matches the dragon sounds like an eighty year old smoker, and as insane as it sounds, it works. The Calloway boys provide my only disapproval as their vocals sound almost too familiar to that of other teenage boy characters in animation of the time.

Animation

What happened to the animation? It's incredibly wooden and lacked a lot of of the fluidity set by The Boo Brothers. Characters movements felt very puppet like and unnatural. The scenery felt very repetitive, whilst reusing scenery is a well known technique in older animation it felt more obnoxious here, taking me away from the story (or lack there of). Th character design, whilst very unique and memorable, was unfortunately very inconsistent. Certain character models felt as if they were drawn off memory at times. Revolta, the antagonist, and her army of spider bats, talking pumpkins and mirror monsters, were all appropriately disgusting. From their ugly proportions to straight up grotesque facial designs it all helped math them to their evil status.

Soundtrack

Eminem who? Scrappy Doo serves up some genuine bars at the close of Ghoul School. As we all know EVERY good animated feature ends with a song. Despicable Me, Gnomeo and Juliet, Rio, The Angry Birds Movie and even the Emoji Movie end with a musical number. And as we all know, this certainly isn't an obnoxious and distracting trope that otherwise makes the film completely void of all personality. Definitely not. Rather, it let's those watching know that the filmmakers are current and in with the kids.

Verdict: Great and original characters cannot save Scooby Doo Ghoul School from its lack of plot, cheap animation and tonal inaccuracies.

Scooby Doo Straight to Television Animated Films - Two of Three


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