Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)

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Released 11-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio
Music Video-America Loves Scooby-Doo
Featurette-Get The Picture: Scooby-Doo
Featurette-Get The Picture: Scooby-Doo And Shaggy
Music Video-Scooby-Doo And Shaggy Love To Eat
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 88:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jayne Barbera
Charles A. Nichols
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Don Messick
Casey Kasem
Frank Welker
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Sven Liback


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Swedish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Dutch
Spanish
Italian
Portuguese
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is one of the several feature length animated movies made based on the popular cartoon over the decades. If your not familiar with the history of Scooby-Doo; Scooby is one of the earlier creations of the highly successful Hanna-Barbera production team whose other classics include such well known cartoons as The Jetsons, Snagglepuss, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Wally Gator, The Cattanooga Cats (Motormouse), Popeye and many, many others. Scooby-Doo is also one of their more successful long term formulas that recently has been made into a Hollywood blockbuster movie. This feature however, comes from an era of simpler times and smaller budgets and it clearly reflects that.

    The movie length versions of Scooby-Doo depart significantly from the formula of the shorter cartoons, a summary of which can be found in my review of Scooby-Doo’s Creepiest Capers. The movies give the usual Mystery Inc. gang - Fred, Daphne, Velma and the Mystery Machine - a temporary reprieve and focus primarily on Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. This actually works quite well due to a combination of factors: the reduced number of characters coupled with the increased length of the presentation allows for much deeper character development of both the main protagonists and primary characters alike. However, to balance the often irrational, emotional reactions of Shaggy and Scooby as they respond to fear with an immediate fight-or-flight (always the latter) reaction, Hanna-Barbera introduced the character of Scrappy-Doo (yes, despite indications to the contrary he is in this presentation). Guaranteed to alienate many Scooby-Doo lovers, Scrappy is, in a way, required to maintain balance and ensure storyline continuance. The problem is that he represents the entirely opposite extreme of the spectrum and never acknowledges any danger – this is the feature than tends to aggravate fans. Anyway, enough of the background and on with the synopsis – what is it all about?

     Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School starts with Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy driving on a back country road in the middle of a severe lightning storm looking for “Miss Grimwood's Finishing School for Girls”, at which Shaggy recently accepted an employment contract to coach sports. In classic Scooby style, we soon learn that a clerical error means that Shaggy has actually accepted a position to teach sports at “Miss Grimwood's Finishing School for Ghouls”! Upon arrival, the group are introduced, with appropriate reactions, to their new students; Sibella (daughter of Count Dracula), Elsa (daughter of Frankenteen Senior (no, not a typo)), Tannis (daughter of the mummy Daddy or is it the Daddy mummy?), Winnie (daughter of Papa Werewolf) and finally Phantasma (daughter of the Phantom). After the initial shock of the situation wears off and the expected panic run, Shaggy and Scooby accept their fate and settle in. We are also introduced to a really cool character, Matches, a small dragon who has been given another classic Hanna-Barbera personality. Make no mistake, this little guy is great - small but with attitude and a bite to match ;). He’s also used well to set up a classic line later in the movie (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) “Like, I wish your Uncle Scooby would learn to stop playing with Matches” - good stuff.

    Shaggy’s first task, and the first half of the movie, is to fine tune the training schedule for the girls in preparation for the upcoming annual volleyball cup match between the Grimwood school and their local rival Calloway, a military school for boys, which incidentally, has won the cup every year. Amongst the many training activities chosen we get to see Scooby and Shaggy dancing the tutu (yes, really), swimming with sharks in the school moat (the idea is to swim fast, very fast) and running through the trees (a much easier task for a phantom). Finally, after all the preparation it comes time for the main game, the results of which I will not spoil. Suffice it to say that cheating never pays off. Then, in a kind of intermission between the two distinct halves of the movie, we get a chance to meet the parents of Grimwood's students and we also learn of the evil plan which the main protagonist of the movie, Revolta, and her sidekick The Grim Creeper have dreamt up.

    Revolta’s plan is to capture the daughters of all the world's most powerful and famous monsters and then hold them for ransom in a desperate attempt to gain control. Her first target is Shaggy whom she gains mind control over using her ingenious “spider-bats” and some strange device they can concoct up which look a little like “web-headphones”, for want of a better description. She instructs Shaggy to take the girls hiking in the local bog-swamp the following day where the Grim Creeper has laid various traps. As luck would have it, the Calloway cadets also plan to head out to the same location for military field and survival exercises. As can be expected, all the Grimwood girls eventually become captured and are whisked off to Revolta’s castle in a rocket powered hut and it’s left up to Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy to rescue them, with some help later on from the code-bound Calloway cadets.

    Once inside Revolta’s castle it almost feels like we are back inside a normal Scooby-Doo episode, so not surprisingly this section of the movie, the latter third, is by far the most entertaining. Whilst Revolta prepares a potion to brainwash (“Revoltise”) the young ghoul-girls and turn them into slaves at midnight, our heroes are madly scouring the castle in search of them. This leads to the usual madness of Scooby and Shaggy running around a creepy castle trying to outwit and outsmart (or in most cases simply outrun) various monsters including the Mirror Monster (a cool concept), the Giant Well-Dweller (which ultimately becomes a Dwellervator) and some exploding potions before confronting Revolta and her offsiders in a final showdown. Needless to say various other parties including Scrappy, Matches and the Calloway cadets come to their aid and when combined finally defeat Revolta and skylift the Grimwood girls to safety. The movie finishes off with a last moment outburst of Scrappy Rap. Yes, rap music, for reasons unknown.

    Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is an interesting combination of what’s been good and what’s been bad in the history of Scooby-Doo cartoons. There are bits to enjoy here, bits that will alienate and plenty of bits designed to push some morals. All-in-all though, the package is acceptable and there are some definite highlights.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The main feature is presented in the fullscreen aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Considering the relatively youthful age of the source material, the video quality should have been much better than is presented here.

    The transfer was extremely sharp and detailed throughout, so detailed that it highlighted many of the other issues. Noise was not a problem at all in this transfer and there was only a smidgen of grain present. The black levels were absolutely precise and the transfer showed remarkably good shadow detail. White levels were similarly well done, although consistent with other Scooby-Doo’s there were several instances where the light intensity changed suddenly for a few frames; either momentarily dropping or increasing in intensity (5:06, 5:57, 14:04 and 60:14 are some of the many examples).

    Colours were bright and well saturated and the animated approximation for skin colour was very good.. There was no evidence of any problems with colour bleeding or cross-colouration.

    MPEG artefacts were absent but there was an annoying and ever-present telecine wobble that made the image hard to concentrate on. There were several instances of minor aliasing at 7:23 (bench edges), 12:30 (pizza box), 22:05 (net), 42:05 (skeleton’s ribs) and the most interesting case at 86:49 on the small dinosaur monster. There was also an absolutely classic example of moiring in the last of the closing credits at 88:19 but this wasn’t really a part of the feature. Film artefacts were the main problem with the material being plagued almost continuously by numerous white flecks and scratches on the film (56:52 is the worst case). There are also all manner of black flecks (17:52 and 42:05 are examples), black scratches (7:26), white scratches (7:16, 12:30 and 82:23 are the worst) and a set of scratches that appear to be on the backing plate used for a scene in the animation (80:06). For celluloid that isn’t old in comparison to many others, either it hasn’t been looked after very well or the authors saw fit to master the DVD from a used and abused copy; either way it is disappointing.

    There were many subtitle languages on this disc which could be selected whilst the presentation was playing or via the menu. I sampled both the English subtitles and the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles and found them to be extremely accurate.

    This disc is single sided and single layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Being a mono only track, the audio was as simple as you could possibly get. Considering this is a more recent production run of Scooby-Doo I expected at least Dolby Digital surround encoded stereo by now, if not a full 5.1 mix! That said, however, this would have to be one of the clearest and almost immersive mono tracks I have ever listened to. If you don’t believe me, then have a listen to the section at 44:25. The same would not appear to be true for the R1 version of this DVD as one reviewer commented that it sounded muddy and thin.

    All of the various language soundtracks were also recorded as mono soundtracks in Dolby Digital 1.0. I primarily listened to the default English soundtrack. There were only a few relatively minor problems that I did notice - one was a click in the soundtrack at 15:42 and the other was a short period where the audio dropped in level at 27:00.

     I didn’t notice any audio sync problems and the dialogue was clear and distinct at all times although there were a few occasions where some very minor audio clipping occurred.

    Once again music is an area where Scooby-Doo presentations actually shine and this one is almost no exception. The main presentation music by Sven Liback is well integrated, supporting the mood and carrying the theme and providing some comic relief when necessary. Not quite as well integrated, although amusing nonetheless, is the closing music for “Scrappy’s Rap” provided by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, John Debney and Glenn Leopold.

    There is no surround encoding and no surround activity at all (unless you chose to simulate it on your equipment – personally I wouldn’t bother).

    The subwoofer – well the lights were on but nobody was at home.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu

    The main menu has no animation but some pleasing background music. It is clear and simple to navigate.

Featurettes – “Get the Picture”

    There were two Get the Picture extras on this disc.

    I found these to be done so fast that it would be nigh on impossible for me to replicate it; maybe the more artistically gifted may find these useful. If not, it’s still fun to watch.

Music Video – “America Loves Scooby-Doo”

    An above average music video for a Scooby-Doo release but not that entertaining and suffering from poor NTSC to PAL video conversion. One bit of value that it does bring to the table is as an overview of how Scooby-Doo has changed over the decades. Within the video are snippets from Scooby-Doo cartoons spanning the late 1960s till the late 1990s but you have to look carefully. (Duration 2:32, Dolby 2.0 Surround).

Music Video – “Scooby-Doo And Shaggy Love To Eat”

    Another music video very similar to the previous one except it is weaker in every respect. Slightly worse video and weaker music. (Duration 2:22, Dolby 2.0 Surround).

Trailer – “Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School”

    I’m almost inclined to complain about this extra for the following reason – it’s false advertising and misleading. This trailer for the DVD mentions, for one thing, extras such as “The Back to School Game” which are not present on the (R4) DVD and the actual trailer itself is filled with false implications. For instance it starts off with Shaggy narrating:

Shaggy: “… Check out our latest mystery. Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School”
Velma: “Sounds great, count me in”
Scooby: “Yeah, me too!”

    Then we are treated to a shot of the entire Mystery Inc. gang converging on the Grimwood school in the Mystery Machine. None of this actually happens in the movie as I pointed out earlier. One thing at least – if you look very closely you will notice that Scrappy can just be seen – at least they were honest about that much. (Duration 1:18).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is available in R1 and comes with some additional extras and a bundle of trailers but little else. There also seems to be something wrong with the audio transfer on the R1 and I suspect that ours may be superior. That said, the decision is really R1 NTSC versus R4 PAL and I think our PAL encoding wins.

    The R1 version of this disc misses out on:

    The R4 version of this disc misses out on:

Summary

    Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is an average presentation that has its moments.

    The video quality is borderline average.

    The audio quality is mono but clear.

    The extras are poor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael S Cox (to bio, or not to bio?)
Sunday, August 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplayJVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole

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