Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost: A Retrospective: Part 1

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Has it really been 15 years already?

Scooby-Doo and the gang visit Oakhaven, Massachusetts to seek strange goings on involving a mysterious horror novelist and his ancestor who is rumored be a witch.

I’m not 100% positive, but given the release date of this movie, this might well have been my first exposure to Scooby animation. Which might actually explain my undying love for this movie and The Hex Girls. I’m not going to bury the lead here, still to this day, this is by far my absolute favorite Scooby movie. If that’s all you want to know, you can stop reading now.

Still here? Then let the lovefest begin!

Man, where to start…I’m really trying to be my normal cynical cranky self here…for once, it’s hard. For me, this movie is pretty much flawless. I’m sure we all know the plot but just in case, as the gang solves a mummy mystery at a natural history museum they meet horror writer extraordinaire Ben Ravencroft, who Velma happens to be a huge fan of. Ben invites the gang to his hometown of Oakhaven Massachusetts for a break from mystery solving. Upon their arrival they discover a little tourist trap Puritan village has been constructed in the same area that Ben’s great ancestor Sarah Ravencroft practiced medicine and was persecuted as a witch for it. They find out that Sarah’s ghost has been haunting the town, soon after all hell breaks loose.

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I don’t like achy breaky Billy Ray Cyrus at all, but damn it I have to give credit where credit is due, he did a really great version of the Where Are You theme. And for that matter all of the music here is great Whoever came up with the idea for The Hex Girls, I bow to them. What a brilliant way to reach to a different, less mainstream audience, and not mock or talk down to them than with an eco-goth all girl rockband.

All three of the songs featured in this are kick ass songs that could stand on there own outside of the movie, “I’m A Hex Girl” alone is a great anthem.

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The casting of The Hex Girls makes them an even more formidable team.
Jane Wiedlin, of the Go-Go’s ,as Dusk brings a bit of musical respect to the band.
It shows that even if they had never appeared again the folks in charge of casting were taking them and the movie seriously enough to get true musical talent. Kimberly Brooks whose voice fits Luna’s attitude so well. She doesn’t speak much but she makes her mark. She has gone onto do a lot of animation and video game voice work.

But for me the coup de grâce of the band is none other than Jennifer Hale, whose voice as Thorn, I must admit, I had a huge crush on for many years…and to some extent still do. A stellar grouping for sure.

This was Scott Innes’ first crack at voicing Shaggy, his first turn as Scooby was in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island from the year before, and he does a pretty good job but he definetly got better as he went on in the role. For proof just check out the very next Scooby DTV, Alien Invaders, and it’s soundtrack. His Scooby was impressive from the beginning and in the end his Shaggy wasn’t far behind.

When I think of Velma I hear B.J. Ward, and that is NOT a slight against any other Velma. She fit the classic Velma role so well and did such a magnificent job honoring her original characteristics.

I love Grey Delisle-Griffin as Daphne, there is no doubt that she is my favorite…but Mary Kay Bergman? WOW!
What an amazing talent who had such a beautiful, warm, soothing voice. It’s so sad what happened, and what a shame it is that she wasn’t able to play Daph in a series.

That brings us to the Legendary Frank Welker. What can I say about the man that hasn’t been said many times before?
He is Fred, full stop. No one will ever be better at what he does than he himself is. Icon, nuff said!

It is the furthest thing from hyperbole to call the animation majestic, particularly the climactic showdown with the full-blown crazed warlock Ben and his spells. In my opinion, the lushly painted backgrounds rival the great hand drawn Disney films we all watched in our youth. The character animation is beautifully smooth and oh so gorgeous.

The Hex Girl’s performances are the very definition of eye candy. The updated designs for the Mystery Inc. gang work perfectly, letting us all know the gang isn’t just a group of mask grasping teens anymore.

Tim Curry as Ben Ravencroft is a masterstroke of casting. He brings a gravitas to Ben that I’m not sure many others could have. He is one of the great actors of our time. He can pull off cool, calm, and collected with ease but he also does menacing in a truly frightening way, almost like Robin Williams doing One Hour Photo. Curry was almost the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series, and in all honesty I think he is one of the few that could rival Mark Hamill’s superb bar raising performance.

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Tress Macneille as Sarah Ravencroft is genius. She is the female equivalent of Frank Welker. If you watched anything animated from the mid 80’s until now you’ve heard both Frank and Tress many many times doing multiple characters in hundreds of different projects and never even knew it. She is every bit the legend Frank is.

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So to sum it all up, this movie is a prime example of why the Scooby-Doo franchise has lasted these 45 years. This is Scooby at it’s best, every single department was firing on all cylinder and it is on display in every single frame of this movie.
A few of the DTV’s have reached this level but not a single one has surpassed it in my eyes. This is the measuring stick for all Scooby movies. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this and get on that!
Perfection.

Be sure to check out SpiderScooby’s revoew here.

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