Beware: Spoilers may follow.
After 34 years we finally got a conclusion to the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo. Many long time fans of the franchise were excited to see this. For the most part it lived up to the hype. In other ways (particularly towards the last third) however, it felt rather forced.
The story is that after botching up a mystery, the gang ultimately goes into retirement. However they find themselves back in the game when Vincent Van Ghoul contacts them to catch the 13th ghost, which escaped from the Chest of Demons.
One of the aspects I liked about this movie was the fact that it did a good job of catching newcomers up on various aspects of the series including Shaggy and Scooby having accidentally released the ghosts, the fact that Fred and Velma were absent from the series, who Vincent Van Ghoul in relation to the characters, etc. Maurice LaMarche did a relatively good job of capturing the life Vincent Van Ghoul.
During the scene where the gang is selling all their stuff there’s all sorts of Easter eggs to other incarnations. For instance there’s the Shark Man costume from the New Scooby-Doo Movies, the Yeti Mask from Chill Out Scooby-Doo, the mask of the Ghost Clown, and the Black Knight costume from the very first episode.
They made Daphne awesome in this movie by having her take on a leadership role when going after the 13th Ghost (as she led them in the original series). And it gives way to some cool action such as when en route to Vincent’s Mansion they get into a car chase resulting in some funny maneuvers. It also leads to an interesting subplot of her and Fred coming to an understanding about the matter, as usually he is the leader. It’s something that hasn’t been done in any of the other movies or the TV show so I found myself quite invested in seeing how it played out.
The animation is well done. The backgrounds have a nice sense of eeriness, which works to the advantage of the movie investigating the supernatural. And the colors, lighting, and angles help give way to the atmosphere of the action and comedy throughout the movie. The movements are smooth and the 13th Ghost has a neat Chernabog-like design that hits the perfect balance of both scariness and silliness.
The jokes in this movie are also legitimately funny. They have good comedic timing and the movie sometimes references other shows in the franchise, which significantly confuses the characters such as the existence of real ghosts, the mention of Scrappy, and of course the classic the meddling kids line (although that one lies in the movie’s biggest flaw) There’s also a running gag of the characters being afraid of teenagers. And of course there’s the return of Flim Flam. In the original show he was mostly a kid sidekick to draw in the younger demographic. Here he’s all grown up and he gives the movie a great deal of energy in the quest. I liked how he doesn’t meet up with Scooby, Shaggy, and Daphne until the last third as doing so could have easily led to similar beats from the original show and just a bunch jokes saying “hey guys remember this moment?” Having him interact with Fred and Velma for most of the movie gave it a fresh new life and their reactions to his antics were fun to watch. And when he does reunite with the friends he traveled with all those years ago it is a heartwarming reunion.
Sadly though there is one major flaw in the movie and that comes down to the end. Throughout the movie Velma and Fred are skeptical that Shaggy, Scooby, and Daphne saw actual ghosts back in the series and I was waiting for real monsters to rock their world. Halfway through the movie they get abducted and are for a while convinced. While there is a clever idea of a twist with how the 13th ghost actually ties into Vincent’s family history, they do a complete 180 by having the ghost revealed to be a human in disguise and Velma is back to being a skeptic again. The twist completely takes away from one of the things that made the 13 Ghost series so popular by having them go up against actual ghosts.
Curse of the 13th Ghost was a well-made movie but overall its conclusion really drags it down. However, the first two-thirds have some interesting character concepts and give the action and comedy that the series was well known for. Overall though, it’s a good Scooby-Doo movie and a decent conclusion to the shortest series of the franchise.