Scooby-Doo reruns returned Mystery Incorporated to the forefront of kiddie culture in the 1990s. Their success led directly to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), a higher-production 'Doo which received positive reviews and sales. It's also the darkest of the gang's adventures. This sequel followed, tempered to address concerns its predecessor turned a tad too terrifying for the intended audience. The ninth series, What's New, Scooby-Doo? would follow, using this version of the ghost-busting gang.
They're adults now, with actual jobs. The Mystery Machine and Daphne and Fred's wardrobes receive upgrades. While certainly silly, this version mostly eschews the over-the-top cartooniness and camera-winking that hounded the franchise over the previous twenty years. Velma, however, hasn't yet acquired her twenty-first century snark.
After solving a mystery in a museum, the gang meet "Ben Ravencroft," a New England horror writer voiced by Tim Curry. He invites them to his home town to enjoy Harvest Festival. Predictably, the town has become haunted. The ghost of Sarah Ravencroft, Ben's ancestor, plagues the descendants of those who persecuted her for witchcraft. Ben insists she only performed traditional healing.
But people aren't fleeing Sarah: business is booming. The first two acts brew up, essentially, an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, with Not-Stephen-King as special guest, and a dash of credulous Wiccan history flavouring the recipe. It also introduces The Hex Girls, a cross between Evanescence and the Spice Girls who would become Scooby semi-regulars for a spell. After the expected Scooby-Doo ending and some life-lessons, however, we get an unexpected twist. The final act, while not as dark as Zombie Island, might frighten young children-- though it simultaneously delivers the show's funniest lines.
Can our heroes prevail against genuine evil?
While no cinematic masterpiece, this 1999 movie contributes to one of Scooby-Doo's strongest runs.