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Being a huge Scooby Doo fan for goodness knows how long, any new show, special or film would be watched with great anticipation. While 'Scooby Doo Where Are You' is still the jewel of the crown of the franchise, one where most of the shows and films are watchable and more, a vast majority of the Scooby Doo films have a huge amount to like and are worth watching at least once.
Harkening back to, or spun off, the short-lived left incomplete mid-80s incarnation 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo', 'Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost' is not one of the best of the Scooby Doo films. Do prefer 'Zombie Island', 'Witch's Ghost', 'Big Top', 'Goblin King' (am aware that this is not going to be a popular opinion) and 'Mask of the Blue Falcon' (also really enjoyed 'Frankencreepy', 'Abracadabra Doo', 'Camp Scare' and 'Stage Fright', despite the last having an overstuffed and convoluted ending). Of the Scooby Doo films, the only one that didn't do much for me are 'Monster of Mexico', despite Scooby and Shaggy appearing in 'Arabian Nights' from 1994 not only does it not really count as a Scooby Doo film and also try to pretend that doesn't exist. 'Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost' is enjoyable on its own, it is a nice change of pace from the formula with the right amount of spookiness, endearingly goofy humour and attempts to be true to both the classic Scooby Doo and 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo'. Just to say, am aware that that show is not one of the most popular incarnations of Scooby Doo and is considered by some to be one of the worst. Personally have a soft spot for it myself and actually consider it underrated despite some take or leave elements, if mainly for the character of Vincent Van Ghoul and Vincent Price and liked that it tried to do something different.
'Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost' has a lot to like, much of it in common with many of the previous Scooby Doo films, and certainly do not think respectfully it is anywhere near as terrible as the negative reviewers have made out, talking about the continuity issues and how Fred is written without mentioning much of anything else. It's not what is being pointed out that is being objected to as actually a couple of the criticisms are valid, it's the rather mountain-out-a-molehill way it's being said. Enough of that, let's talk about the film. The animation is great, colourful, suitably spooky and sometimes imaginative. Everything is beautifully drawn and meticulously detailed, with rich, atmospheric colours and a lot of care and time clearly went into how the characters were drawn and move, Vincent Van Ghoul (like 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo', if not as much as that show as this Vincent Van Ghoul is leaner, he is uncannily based on Vincent Price who voiced the character originally and one he was made for) and Asmodeus in particular.
Music is both dynamic and groovy, with a lot of energy and a haunting undercurrent. The writing is smart and clever, as well as very funny. There are some endearingly goofy jokes (in classic Scooby Doo fashion, while also feeling current) and witty quirkiness, and loved the nods to 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo', including briefly mentioning the previous ghosts in the series, basing itself in the very first location of its first episode, the van and re-introducing Flim Flam who is a little (emphasis on little) less annoying here even when true to character (he does talk a little too much though and too fast) that helped make the film a change of pace.
Humour is quirky and upbeat but there are a fair share of thrills and macabre elements that stays true to 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo', which is what makes Scooby Doo so charming in the first place. Yes the creators were definitely having a ball with this. The story is mostly very compelling, with the right amount of upbeat goofiness and creepiness without being too cheesy or too scary. Asmodeus is suitably intimidating and absolutely loved the strong and resourceful characterisation for Daphne, at her most interesting in a while and another thing true to 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo'. Shaggy and Scooby are dead on as usual, but the standout is Van Ghoul, who fits in like a glove and recognisable if not as quite in command perhaps. The voice acting is nothing to complain about really, Maurice LaMarche being especially good and made me nostalgic for Vincent Price without impersonating him too much. Matthew Lillard is endearing and amusing as Shaggy, as usual, and Grey Griffin does a great job as Daphne, some of her best voice acting as her actually. Frank Welker shows no signs of being long in the tooth and Nolan North is suitably sinister with a voice that reminded me of the voices of Maldor and Zimbulu.
The film is not without its issues though. Can totally understand why people dislike how Fred is written here, though actually this is not the first film or incarnation to portray him in an out of character way. Was not very fond of him being written idiotically and being constantly negative in thinking, that 'Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost' remained true to the writing for Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne and their roles in 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo' was admirable and appreciated but it did feel like the writers/creators did not know what to do with Fred once the role reversals were in place. Do agree to some extent that Velma's scepticism was overdone.
Likewise with the beginning crisis not being resolved enough and the second half started losing energy and became less imaginative.
Where 'Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost' falls down most is the ending. Found it very rushed and with a far too easy defeat, but what mainly doomed it was that after doing so well with the change of formula the ending went into conventional territory reminiscent of a denouement of an episode of 'Mystery Incorporated'. Don't know about anybody else, but everything about the outcome for me was obvious (or at least guessed it) very early on and nothing about it surprised me at all.
On the whole, very enjoyable but had room for improvement. 7/10
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