What kind of Halloween is it without a new Scooby-Doo seasonal mystery to enjoy? In this outing, the Scooby gang uncover a startling revelation that throws all their past mysteries in a new light and could possibly lead to a new and even more dangerous threat to Mystery Incorporated.
When the Scooby gang thwarts the Cat-Creature of Katmandu, exposing the creature to be another human in a silly costume, they rush back to the Mystery Machine with a whisker from the costume to see if a theory they have been pondering is correct, and after a quick computer scan of the fake cat whisker Fred (Frank Welker) reveals “Just as I suspected, the materials used to make the cat man suit are identical to every other costume from the criminals we’ve captured” and now with the knowledge that this all dates back to their very first mystery, involving the Black Knight, the gang find themselves in mystery/conspiracy of epic proportions. Daphne (Grey Griffen) comments “I always thought it was a strange coincidence that all our cases involved some supernatural creature” with Velma (Kate Micucci) concluding “But it wasn’t a coincidence, these costumes were created by one person, a secret mastermind hiding behind the curtain and pulling the strings all this time.”
And just who is this criminal master behind this costume malfeasance, well, thanks to the Mystery Machine’s computer, and the limitations of a straight-to-video running time, the gang learns that the one responsible for all their headaches is none other than Coco Diablo (Myrna Velasco) the owner of the most famous Halloween costume facility in the world, but a quick sting operation utilizing Shaggy (Mathew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), in disguise as a prospective clients for a shady real estate scheme, it’s revealed that she is “The mastermind behind one of the most notorious costume crime syndicates in the world” – this implies that there may be more than one costume crime syndicate, which is a little unnerving – but now with Coco Diablo safely behind bars the Scooby gang find themselves engaged in mysteries that become less and less intriguing, dealing with such mundane problems as finding a lost sock or getting a cat out of a tree, then and after a year of nothing but humdrum cases Fred comes up with the “brilliant” plan of setting up a Mystery Incorporated booth at the Coolsville Halloween Festival.
But before you can say “Meddling kids” a glowing green ghoul appears at the festival, one who looks to be targeting the Scooby gang personally and with the creature’s motivation seeming to be nothing more than “Destroy Mystery Incorporated” they have to solve this mystery fast, and when Daphne points out that “A ghost with a grudge attacking us on Halloween, there is only one person who could behind this. I think it’s time we paid a visit to our old pal Coco Diablo” and thus the gang make a quick exit and an even quicker trip to Coolsville Penitentiary to find out if their former nemesis is up to her old antics. When Coco denies her involvement, claiming that it’s more likely that this a copycat criminal behind these attacks, she offers her services in the investigation, which an obviously enamoured Velma is more than happy about.
Much is being made about Velma’s sexual orientation in this movie, some pointing out that in previous incarnations she has shown a definite interest in the male anatomy, even including Shaggy’s in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and that her being gay here flies in the face of those other shows, but as the multiple different runs of the franchise and various movies over the years have had no actual rock-solid continuity her being gay in this particular movie has no bearing on her being straight in others, sadly, this movie doesn’t really have much time to explore Velma’s sexual orientation and while it’s nice to see Daphne and the gang completely cool with her “crushing hard” on a woman, even if that woman is a villain, what we don’t get is anything more than lip service to this part of her character and not even much of that as Velma and Coco don’t even get to share a kiss. This lack of commitment by the screenwriters could almost be overlooked if the mystery itself had a bit more heft to it, which it does not, because any fan of the show will guess the culprit pretty much right away.
Note: The backstory given to this particular “supernatural” threat deals with a group of immortals who must commit acts of evil to balance out the good in the world, which is a rather interesting premise and it really belongs in a better outing than this
Who could be responsible for implementing such a dastardly scheme? Could it be that Coco Diablo is manipulating the Scooby-gang to get out of prison? What about Coco’s former employee Trevor Glume (Anthony Carrigan), could his Dracula obsession stem from a darker place or it is revenge on his imprisoned boss’s behalf? Then there is Warden Collins (David Lodge) who is a Mystery Incorporated superfan and has the technological know-how to create and execute these apparent supernatural monsters, not to mention his strange willingness to let a convicted felon out of prison and into the custody of a bunch of teenagers and their dog, so yeah, the mystery in Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! is less than engaging and fairly obvious to even the youngest of viewers, but even more disappointing is that after the “big reveal” the movie isn’t quite over as we are then subjected to a mass prison break that unleashes all of the old Scooby-Doo villains back into the world. Oh no, what dastardly plans do these bitter and vengeful criminals have in store for the hapless citizens of Coolsville?
Yes, this group of recently escaped convicts don’t go into hiding, which would make sense as it would give them time to formulate a plan of revenge, instead, they run around Coolsville and steal candy from the neighbourhood trick or treaters, seriously, the classic villains have resorted to stealing candy from a baby, how lame is that? But what can our intrepid band of heroes do to stop such a terrifying array of villains? And by terrifying, I mean a bunch of middle-aged men in prison jumpsuits who look like they belong on Jerry Springer and not on the FBI’s most-wanted list, and how exactly are they a threat to anybody? Lucky for the Scooby gang, Coco Diablo steps in and once again offers her services and provides them with the old costumes she’d designed for the Spooky Space Kook, the Black Knight, Captain Cutler, Ghost Clown and even the cat-creature costume from this movie’s opening mystery, and I’ll admit it was kind of nice to see our heroes get a little karmic payback against their old foes but as the mystery itself had already been solved this seemed more like an extended epilogue and not at all necessary.
• The pre-credit opening mystery takes place in Katmandu, which is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, so it seems like a missed opportunity for a cameo by Flim Flam from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.
• The cat-creature of Katmandu is thwarted by the ganging using a large laser pointer to distract the monster, with cats being known for chasing such red dots this makes some sense, but as this is actually a person in a cat suit it makes absolutely no sense.
• Coco Diablo has a trapdoor to an alligator pit as a way to motivate her staff, which is proof that her company’s HR department is not doing its job.
• When Fred outlays what each member of the gang did to uncover Coco Diablo’s nefarious plot he can’t come up with anything Daphne did to contribute to solving the case, even worse, Daphne herself realizes that “Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what I did, or what I ever do” which is a cheap shot by the writers because over the years Daphne has grown far past her original “girl hostage” role in the original series and has become a badass in her own right.
• When the gang goes to consult with Coco Diablo at the Coolsville Penitentiary they find her cell located down a dark corridor and behind a thick plexiglass wall, which is a very nice homage to Hannibal Lector’s cell in Silence of the Lambs.
• Coolsville Library has a large “Spooky Section” complete with bats, cobwebs and burning wall sconces because, of course it does.
• The idea of past villains teaming up to get revenge on the Scooby gang was handled much better in Frankencreepy.
• The Mystery Machine gets a very goth upgrade, after being destroyed by Count Nefario’s firebomb, by Coco Diablo’s assistant Trevor Glume which has a distinct Munster vibe to it.
While the mystery provided by Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! is on the distinctly feeble side of things there is still much to enjoy, this is the first direct-to-video outing that has used the animation style found in Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? and for the most part it really looks good and while the ghoulish phantoms that plague our heroes weren’t particularly inspiring, other than being zombie version of the Scooby gang they didn’t have much to do, but the general aesthetic of the movie was solid and there were even some nice meta jokes thrown in to give older fans of the franchise a little chuckle now and then. As for the humour on display here, this entry doesn’t go as broad or crazy as we’ve seen in such outings as Be Cool, Scooby-Doo but it’s a definite step up from such offerings as Return to Zombie Island and Curse of the 13th Ghost which seemed hellbent on undermining the goodwill of Scooby-Doo fans, at least this time out we don’t get Velma constantly denying previous events from other movies.
The writers here do show a lot of love towards the long history of Scooby-Doo and it was nice to see every member of the Scooby gang getting their time to shine, while the Velma lesbian aspect of the movie was well handled, the way the group was so nonchalant about her crush on “bad girl” Coco Diablo was kind of sweet, it would have been nice if it had actually been allowed to go anywhere, but I guess we will have to wait for new HBO Max Velma series to see if that aspect of her character is going to be allowed to grow beyond gay coding. Overall, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo is a fun and frivolous outing with our favourite mystery solvers engaged in typical “supernatural” hijinks, and while the plot was a little weak on the mystery side of things the animation looks great and the jokes mostly landed, and I do hope the character of Coco Diablo is allowed to return.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! (2022)
Movie Rank - 6.5/10
While the relationship between Velma and Coco Diablo was a sweet little addition to the franchise the movie could have used a better mystery and it really wasted the classic villains.