With Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays, we aren’t talking about another animated movie; instead, we’re talking about a Direct-to-DVD Christmas Special that simply runs a little no longer than an average episode. It premiered on the Cartoon Network before being released as part of the 13 Spooky Tales: Holiday Chills and Thrills DVD, and if not as engaging as one of their “feature-length” outings, it still managed to be a fun little Christmas adventure.
This Christmas special opens with Daphne (Grey Griffin) and Velma (Mindy Cohn) shilling for Menkle’s Toy Store as elves during the town’s Santa Claus parade, while Fred, Scooby (Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) enjoy the event from the sidelines — which will of course involve Shaggy and Scooby and candy canes, it being a Christmas special and all — but holiday merriment is short-lived when the parade is interrupted by the appearance of an evil snowman, a creature that can shapeshift, freeze its prey in solid ice, and even conjure up a terrible blizzard. The Scooby gang flees to the safety of the toy store, where they are all soon trapped inside… or are they? Even a snowstorm isn’t going to stop Mystery Incorporated when they’ve got ghosts to hunt.
Who could be behind this yuletide menace? The store manager Fabian Menkle (Crispin Freeman) reveals to Fred that if the store doesn’t sell enough toys this Christmas, his uncle Havros Menkle (Carlos Alazraqui) will lose the store, but more interesting than that, is the fact that according to Fabian, his uncle has “really changed this year.” The concern level is raised when the Scooby gang goes to question Havros, but the second they step into his office, he starts ranting, “Get out, get out! Doomed, doomed I say. Get out!” This definitely raises him high on the list of suspects, but then the gang runs into Clete the Janitor who tells them, “I hope you weren’t thinking of leaving, cause you can’t, none of us can. The blizzards got us all snowed in and all the phones are dead, nobody’s coming to save us, you kids better watch your backs,” and then he walks off into the dark. Not creepy at all. Finally, there is the dude who played Santa in the parade as he clearly stated that he hates Christmas: “I’m an actor, I hate it! Every year I have to ride that float and wave and be happy and jolly and say Ho-Ho-Ho! It makes me sick!” This he says just before storming out into the blizzard to be apparently grabbed by the snowman, and as there is a history of supposed victims turning out to be the villains themselves, this puts him high on the list of suspects.
Note: The snowman joins the long list of Scooby-Doo monsters that have abilities far beyond what “A guy in a suit” could manage. Its shape-shifting abilities, which rival that of the T-1000, are explained away by Daphne as “ice pellets” which is complete nonsense.
Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays follows the standard formula of your typical Scooby-Doo mystery: a ghost or monster makes an appearance, we get the list of suspects, and the gang then splits up to look for clues — a tactic that Shaggy and Scooby point out is never a good idea — and then we get some spooky backstory to the mystery, in this case it’s Fabian telling them of “The Curse of the Sinister Snowman,” where twenty years ago, Vladimir Harsticore, a mean old man who hated people and wanted only to be left alone, became enraged when the Menkle toy store was built across from his house. It drove him to such madness that the legend says he became pure hate, vanishing in a flurry of snow and bitterness, to form a snowman with a sinister and evil soul. As spooky legends go, this one was pretty damn good and probably deserved more than being a simple throwaway red herring for this twenty-minute Christmas special.
• After retreating to the store, Fabian comments, “That parade was our last hope, with that thing out there we’ll have to close the store and cancel Christmas.” It’s this kind of rhetoric that makes Baby Jesus cry.
• The real Santa (Fred Tatasciore) arrives to save the day which is pretty much a standard trope for this kind of Christmas special.
• Scooby-Doo drives around atop a remote-controlled toy car, a clear nod to the opening credit sequence of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
• Fred and Velma find skyrockets and silver iodide, which is a chemical used for cloud seeding and anti-hail systems, but it’s not something that can form blizzards out of nothing as depicted here.
• We see multiple members of the Scooby gang being totally encased in ice from the Snow Monster’s ice breath attacks, which is later revealed to be liquid nitrogen, yet not only is no one killed by this icy encasement, but they don’t even seem harmed in the least.
Both the animation and the acting in this special are very solid, with each of the gang given their moments to shine, and the monster itself while totally implausible, was quite freaky-looking and made for a good nemesis to Mystery Incorporated. The only downside to this particular mystery was the reveal that it was Fabian being the man in the monster suit — he’d been embezzling from the toy store and created the monster to make his uncle look crazy and thus, wrest control of the store from him, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense even as evil plans go — but that aside, Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays is one of the better Scooby-Doo specials and well worth checking out.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays (2012)
Movie Rank - 7/10
Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays is a fun holiday adventure with the Scooby gang facing off against a terrifying foe – if quite ridiculous at times – in what is easily one of their best twenty minute mysteries