tek's rating:

Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost (not rated)
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So, there's like a ton of different incarnations of the whole Scooby-Doo franchise, including TV series, TV movies, theatrical movies, whatever. Most of it is animated. Starting in 1998, there's been a series of direct-to-video movies; this one came out in 1999, the second movie in that particular segment of the overall franchise. But it's the first and so far the only one of the direct-to-video movies that I've seen. I watched it when it first came out, and I suppose I liked it maybe a bit more than I expected to. It has all the familiar trappings of the original TV series (and maybe some subsequent TV series, with which I am not familiar). But it's also a bit more modern and self-aware, I'd say, so that makes it slightly less silly than the old series. That, and the fact that unlike the original series, these movies have actual supernatural elements to them, instead of just people pulling off hoaxes. Anyway, I watched it again in 2013, which is when I'm writing the review.

It begins with the Mystery, Inc. gang solving yet another case, this one set in a museum. But just as they're about to reveal the true culprits, this famous horror novelist named Ben Ravencroft shows up and does it himself. It turns out Velma is a huge fan of his books, and Ben invites the whole gang to his home town of Oakhaven. When they get there, everyone- including Ben- is surprised to learn that the ghost of one of Ben's ancestors from the 1600s, Sarah Ravencroft, is supposedly haunting the town. So of course the gang decides to get to the bottom of that. Sarah had been persecuted as a witch, though Ben says she was just a Wiccan, a healer. Meanwhile, a local band called the Hex Girls is supposed to perform a concert the next night. They dress in a sexy-witch kinda way, and for some reason have vampire teeth. So there's some suspicion that they may be involved in whatever's going on.

I don't really want to give too much away, but of course the mystery of the witch's ghost is solved in a typical Mystery, Inc. fashion. It was just a hoax, but the perpetrators- whose identities I won't divulge- aren't really bad guys; their motivations aren't sinister, unlike most cases from the old show. However, once the truth is exposed, the story doesn't end there. It's only after the hoax is exposed that we learn there's some real supernatural stuff going on, and that is evil. But again, I won't reveal any details about that.

It's a fairly amusing and otherwise entertaining movie. And the animation is somewhat better than in the old series, though it still has a totally Hanna-Barbera look to it. (I guess Hanna-Barbera had something to do with it, but at this point the Scooby-Doo franchise has essentially been taken over by Warner Bros.) Um... I kind of want to say I found Daphne slightly more attractive in this than I did in the old show (due to the modern animation style). And the Hex Girls had a hot goth chick thing going on. Also there's some cool actors in the movie, including Tim Curry as Ben Ravencroft, and Jane Wiedlin as one of the Hex Girls (though not the main one). And the Hex Girls' music wasn't bad. (Incidentally, the Scooby-Doo theme song was performed in this movie by Billy Ray Cyrus.) And I guess that's all I can think to say. But I do kinda hope to get around to watching some of the other direct-to-video movies, eventually.

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