When it comes to the idea of employment, the Scooby-Doo franchise has been rather loose with how our cast of characters earns gas money. Shaggy and Scooby weren’t selling pot on the side to pay for all those immense Submarine Sandwiches — despite this being a fair assumption — though they were often seen to have gainful employment, from working at the Fearless Detective Agency for Shaggy’s Uncle Fearless during the run of the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo show to joining Daphne as intrepid reporters for Peep-Hole Magazine. However, it was in this 1988 movie that we find Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy-Doo taking on one of their most dangerous jobs yet.
In Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Scooby, and Scrappy-Doo (Don Messick) take a job as gym teachers at a finishing school — the fact that any educational institution would hire a beatnik and two dogs as teachers should have been a red flag to our trio — but this particular ’80s animated Scooby-Doo movie is another entry that lacks any real mystery, with this movie having more in common with such Hanna-Barbera shows like Wacky Racers than with the classic Scooby-Doo mysteries. The basic premise of this movie is that our trio of nitwits has been hired by Ms. Grimwood (Glynis Johns) as gym teachers to train the girl-ghouls in volleyball so that they can finally defeat the Calloway Military School For Boys located next door. Sure, that sounds reasonable.
Needless to say, both Shaggy and Scooby are shocked to learn that their pupils are the offspring of famous monsters, as the student body consists of Sibella (Susan Blu), the daughter of Count Dracula, Elsa Frankenteen (Pat Musick), the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster, Winnie (Marilyn Schreffler), daughter of the Wolfman, Phantasma (Russi Taylor) the ghostly daughter of a phantom, and finally, we have Tanis (Patty Maloney), the daughter of the Mummy. Now, despite the abject terror of their monstrous charges, Shaggy had signed a contract, which had been witnessed by Scooby and Scrappy, so there was nothing they could do but settle in and do their best at prepping these girls for the big game.
The key problem with Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is that to make this a feature-length movie, the producers felt it necessary to cram together two completely separate story elements. The first half of the film focuses on Shaggy getting the girls in shape for their annual volleyball game, with meal breaks that sadly consisted mostly of rotted food, and then the big game itself. It’s here we get the Ghoul School using their monstrous abilities to win the game despite the boys from Calloway Military School attempting to cheat by using jetpacks and a remote-controlled volleyball.
Now, the competition between the Ghoul School for Girls and Calloway Military School is only the first half of the movie because once the girls win the game, the story shifts focus to a plot to take over the world by the evil witch Revolta (Ruta Lee), who wants to capture and enslave the girls because she believes their parents have gone soft. That’s cartoon logic for you. She is aided by what looks to be a tentacled pickle called The Grim Creeper (Andre Stojka), who is your standard cartoon evil minion and by that I mean goofy and incompetent.
• Though labelled a Finishing School for Ghouls, none of the pupils are actually ghouls. A ghoul is a humanoid creature that is associated with lurking around graveyards and consuming human flesh, and none of the girls qualify for that category.
• I’m not exactly sure how undead creatures like Dracula and The Mummy are popping out children.
• This movie also ignores the fact that Shaggy and Scooby had already met Dracula back in “Who’s Minding the Monster?” from The New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show.
• Elsa Frankenteen is an obvious reference to Elsa Lanchester who played The Bride of Frankenstein.
• Shaggy is hired to help the Ghoul School win their annual volleyball game against the Military school, but at no time does he ever give them a volleyball lesson.
• Strange that when there is an open house at the school, only the ghoul girl’s fathers attend; does this cartoon follow the Disney rule of having at least one dead parent?
• Despite competing with them in annual volleyball championships, Colonel Calloway somehow remained unaware that the All Ghoul-School was a school for monsters.
Neither the volleyball competition nor the evil plot being hatched by the witch rises above mildly interesting, and they clearly belonged in separate movies, yet an entertaining movie was still possible if any of the comic hijinks or jokes had landed; sadly, none do. So, if you are a fan of lazy-ass puns and tired slapstick, then you may find some enjoyment in watching Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, but I can’t recommend this to anyone over the age of seven.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)
Movie Rank - 5/10
The comic hijinks of Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy-Doo should have blended well with the Universal Monsters but the writers of this movie didn’t seem to have a clue as to what kind of movie they were trying to make.