Scooby-Doo And The Ghoul School (1988) FILM REVIEW
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.
Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy have been invited to gym coach at a school, but this is no ordinary school! Welcome to Grimwood’s Finishing School For Ghouls, an all girls school that’s being attended by the children of classic horror monsters. Scooby and his friends have to train the girls for upcoming volleyball game with Calloway Military Academy. All while this is happening, the evil Revolta is planning to kidnap and brainwash all of Grimwood’s students; with help from her sidekick Grimcreeper.
“Scooby-Doo And The Ghoul School” is surprisingly great for made-for-TV standards. I’m not saying it’s in the same league as Zombie Island or other cult Scooby features, but it certainly exceeded my expectations in terms of fun. I went in expecting just a long Scooby-Doo episode, yet it’s a little more than that.
I really loved seeing Scooby and Shaggy actually BONDING with monsters for once. Sure, the duo are terrified by these ghouls at first, but it doesn’t take them long to warm up to each girl. The lessons they have to teach are often surprisingly wholesome, despite each having a creepy twist. The cuteness coming from how Scooby and Shaggy put aside their fears to be good responsible teachers.
There’s also this strong camaraderie at Grimwood. The girls might seem spooky, but they’re all really friendly, kind, and bubbly. They share a mutual love for the macabre and gothic, while also being well-behaved students for their easily-scared coaches. Even Ms. Grimwood, the head principal of this monster academy, comes off as sugary sweet and motherly! Heck, she’s even lovely to the military’s school’s strict competitive headmaster.
The film has a very pun-heavy sense of humour. It’s all a bit hit or miss. Sometimes it’s very cute hearing a ghoul girl say a cheesy pun, but sometimes they’ll overdo it by turning a pun into their catchphrase; which admittedly got a little annoying. I wouldn’t blame folks for turning this film off after the first half hour if they hate puns, because they take up A LOT of the movie haha.
Then we have our Villain revolta, a hideous and snarling witch who wants to rule the world. She’s your archetypical TV cartoon villain through and through, and she spends most of the film hiding in her lair while spying on the girls. Despite this, I wouldn’t say she comes off as too flat, because the campy Ruta Lee gives her a fabulously wicked growling voice, and her four-armed design is quite unique. Oh and her minion, the Grimcreeper, is this adorably loyal monster who takes intense joy from serving his mistress.
Another thing I love, is how Revolta’s evil plans somehow bring Grimwood and Calloway together. These two schools are rivals, but only because Calloway cadets have been commanded to resent the Grimwood girls. Half way through the movie, the Calloway students begin to see that the Grimwood girls are big-hearted pupils behind the scary exteriors. In the finale, the cadets feel so remorseful for the girls being kidnapped, that they ignore the headmaster’s orders, and become major heroes in the finale.
Now, as much as I like this movie, please don’t mistake this review as a heart-eyed love letter. This is still a 1980’s TV movie, so don’t expect great production values, rich atmosphere building, or amazing visuals. A lot of the animation looks like an average Scooby-Doo episode from the time; low-cost, choppy, and flat. You also have to remember that Scooby and Shaggy weren’t originally created to be lead characters, so we have to depend a lot on the duo’s clumsy mistakes or Scrappy’s annoying and chipper impulsiveness to move the story along. Keep in mind too that the film ends with a TERRIBLE Scrappy-Doo rap haha.
To conclude, Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School will struggle to compete with more mature or dark Scooby titles with challenging mysteries, but if you want a wholesome and fun family movie with an Addams Family vibe, then I have to say that THIS is the Scooby film for you.