Friday, September 13, 2019

The New Scooby Doo Mysteries: "A Halloween Hassle In Dracula's Castle"

Scooby Doo made his debut 50 years ago today (September 13, 1969).  In honor of the occasion, we're starting our Halloween reviews a bit earlier than usual this year.  Happy Birthday, Scoob!

Premiered October 27, 1984

On Halloween, Scooby Doo (Don Messick), Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Daphne (Heather North) and Scrappy Doo (Messick again) visit a costume shop.  Scooby and Shaggy are terrified when two space aliens arrive at the shop.  

Their fears are put to rest when the "aliens" unmask and reveal themselves to be Scooby’s old friends Velma (Marla Frumkin) and Fred (Frank Welker)!

The costume shop's owner (Hamilton Camp), who is wearing a Dracula costume, and his assistant (Phil Hartman), who’s dressed as Igor, overhear Scrappy mention that he and his friends are ghostbusters.

The owner tells Scooby that he's the shop's millionth customer.  The prize is an invitation to the town's best Halloween party, which is held at a spooky castle.

When they arrive, the Scooby gang is impressed with the very convincing costumes worn by the party-goers. 

Every is having a good time at the Halloween party, when suddenly, the party is crashed by the ghost of Dr. Van Helsing (Hartman again), Dracula’s old enemy.  The ghost attacks them with garlic gas, which repels vampires.  

When Van Helsing disappears, Dracula reveals to Scooby and friends that he is the REAL Count Dracula and that the other partygoers are also real monsters.  He reveals that he invited the gang to his party because he and his fellow monsters need their help in stopping the ghost of Dr. Van Helsing!  

Can Scooby and the gang find a way to capture Van Helsing’s ghost and save Halloween?  

J.A. Morris says:
This is a fun Scooby Doo cartoon made better by the Halloween setting and the presence of Dracula.  It was interesting to see the Lord Of Vampires portrayed in a (relatively) positive way.  And it was nice to see that even vampires, werewolves and mummies are afraid of ghosts (at least they are in this series).  

If you’re not familiar with this iteration of the Scooby Doo series, its regular cast consisted of Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne and Scrappy.  Velma and Fred made only occasional appearances, so  it’s nice to see the whole mystery gang reunited in this Halloween episode.

Other than that, it’s a typical episode of Scooby Doo.  We get chase scenes, Scooby and Shaggy acting gluttonous (and Scooby eating all the food!) and the gang works together to solve a mystery.

Like most episodes, “A Halloween Hassle” features solid voice work from the cast.  Don Messick, Casey Kasem and Frank Welker were the original voices of Scooby, Shaggy and Fred (respectively) and they’re as great as ever here.  Heather North was the second voice actor for Daphne and voiced her for thirty years.  North also delivers a good performance.  

“A Halloween Hassle At Dracula’s Castle” is no classic, but it’s a fun way to revisit these beloved characters during the Halloween “season.”  Recommended for all fans of Dracula and Scooby Doo.

J.A. Morris’ rating:

3 Jack O’Lanterns.

RigbyMel says: 

This mid-1980s installment of Scooby Doo is enjoyable because of its Hallween setting and the presence of "real" monsters like Dracula and the Wolfman, but it's definitely not a classic.     All Scooby Doo episodes tend to be pretty formulaic, which is part of their charm and the inclusion of our "real" monsters adds some spice to the formula, but somehow, it doesn't quite tie together for me, even as a Scooby fan of long standing.

I did appreciate that we got appearances by other "real" monsters like the Invisible Man,  the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein's monster and as J.A. Morris mentions above, the voice work is great.  However, there's just a little bit too much going on with subplots involving amulets and magical transformations to make it completely satisfying, plus the low budget animation feels a bit lower budget than usual.

There is one scene that really amuses me where the gang rallies the monsters to fight back against the ghost's depredations,  Dracula and his wife (sadly, she's not named really) decide to drink some "red juice" to get their mojo going. 

Evidently, mentioning that vampires drink blood was not permitted for Saturday morning cartoons at the time.

It's also interesting to note that this mid-80s incarnation of the show features theme music that suggests Michael Jackson's "Thriller", which was a monster (pun intended) hit at the time.

Scrappy Doo is displeased about the only costume in the shop that fit him
If you're a fan of Scooby & his pals, plus classic monsters,  "A Halloween Hassle At Dracula's Castle" is fun to watch, but you probably won't need to watch it more than once, unless you're a kid.

RigbyMel's rating: 

2.5 jack o'lanterns

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Holiday Film Reviews celebrates a Holiday Season of anniversaries!

Hello faithful readers!  As you are likely aware, the Holiday Season is just around the corner!  We're planning to post some special reviews between now and January.

If you’re not aware, the year 2019 is a big year for anniversaries in film and television.  Back in February, we mentioned that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the premier of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, which introduced everyone’s favorite mystery solving talking Great Dane.  Scooby and the gang were a big part of our Saturday mornings when we were kids.

Sesame Street also celebrates its 50th birthday this year.  Big Bird, Susan, Gordon, Maria, Bob and Oscar et al helped us learn how to read out count.

If that’s not enough, The Simpsons turns 30 this year!  We’ve been fans of the Simpsons since they first appeared in short cartoons on The Tracy Ullman Show.   In fact, the first full-length episode of The Simpsons was a Christmas episode.

Needless to say, we’ve got reviews of holiday episodes of all these series on the way!

Furthermore, Rankin/Bass’ animated special Frosty The Snowman turns 50 this year.  We covered the show in one of our early reviews, back in 2007 when were still figuring out what we wanted this blog to be.  We may say a bit more about Frosty this December.

And Rudolph, The Rednosed Reindeer turns 55 this year.  We haven’t reviewed that classic special yet, since we figured it’s well known enough without our help, and because we didn’t know if we had anything to say about Rudolph that hasn’t already been said.  Perhaps we’ll weigh in on the most famous reindeer of all, if we have the time.

We’ve previously reviewed other specials and episodes that feature these characters, here are links to those reviews:

Scooby Doo:
The Scooby Doo Show: "The Headless Horseman Of Halloween"

A Scooby-Doo Halloween

The Simpsons:
"Bart Vs. Thanksgiving"

 "The Simpsons Halloween Special II"(A.K.A. "Treehouse Of Horror II")

"Treehouse Of Horror XXIV"

“Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”

Sesame Street:
A Muppet Family Christmas (features Muppets from Sesame Street)

Check back tomorrow when we celebrate Scooby Doo’s 50th birthday!

J.A. & Rigbymel