Even though Scooby and the gang almost always yank off the mask at the end to reveal a boring old human behind the monster, no doubt the Scooby-Doo cartoons were a gateway for many a horror fan. Due to their weekly ghoulish encounters, the characters made for perfect Halloween costumes as well. In fact, they even dressed up like each other a few times over the decades during their own Halloween celebrations through numerous versions of the show. However, not every Scooby-Doo Halloween lives up to the holiday for me. So let’s get to breaking them down.
THE SCOOBY-DOO SHOW:
THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN OF HALLOWEEN (1976)
I was just a kiddie when this one first aired on a Saturday morning, and I have to say, it’s classic 1970s Scooby-Doo with comedic mayhem and a laugh track, but it’s a huge Halloween disappointment.
It starts off perfect. The gang—including sometimes cousin/sometimes brother Scooby-Dum—is at a Halloween party in Sleepy Hollow at the home of descendants of Ichabod Crane.
When apple bobbing goes wrong, they encounter the Headless Horseman. Eek!
But the Halloween spirit is out the window fast when the specter crashes the party.
All the guests leave, the Headless Horseman exchanges his jack-o’ lantern for a human head, and then it’s just like any ordinary Scooby-Doo episode.
THE SCOOBY-DOO SHOW:
TO SWITCH A WITCH (1978)
It begins with an old man digging a grave at night and a witch burned at the stake rising from her burial ground. Now that’s some serious Scooby-Doo Halloween setup.
The gang is visiting a friend in Salem who happens to be a descendant of that witch, so the town suddenly turns into a lynch mob that wants to burn her for being a witch!
While the gang is determined to investigate, Scooby and Shaggy still want to trick or treat, and Scooby happens to dress as a witch that looks just like the resurrected witch. You can imagine the shenanigans that ensue as a result. The mystery romp takes us through a pumpkin patch, to a witch museum, and back to the graveyard for the finale.
Plenty of witchy stuff for sure, but there isn’t exactly any major holiday celebration going on in this episode—a little disappointing considering it’s Halloween in Salem.
THE NEW SCOOBY AND SCRAPPY-DOO SHOW:
A HALLOWEEN HASSLE AT DRACULA’S CASTLE (1984)
This is the only Halloween episode to feature Scrappy. People fricking hate Scrappy, but I love me some puppies, so back in the early 80s when I was a tween, I was a fan.
We jump right into the Halloween spirit, with autumn leaves falling as the gang visits a costume store.
Little do they realize that the owner is Dracula when he invites them to a big Halloween party.
In fact, all the guests are actual classic monsters.
They sure do add to the Halloween vibe, but it’s kind of surprising to find Dracula’s castle doesn’t go all out with Halloween decorations. What a letdown.
What isn’t a letdown is the twist. It’s up to the gang to save the monsters from the ghost of Van Helsing on Halloween!
Too cool. There’s even a Ghostbusters reference in an episode that originally aired the very year the film came out. Trippy.
A PUP NAMED SCOOBY-DOO:
GHOST WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1988)
This is from a series that featured the gang as kids.
They go trick or treating and learn the couple at one particular house is ready to sell because it’s being haunted by a pirate ghost. And this episode has not one, but two classic chase scene montages.
A couple of interesting things to note. First, the gang gets help solving the mystery from an actual little ghost named Mr. Boo.
Second, although nothing got accused of being “woke” back in the eighties when they dealt with societal truths (because there was no internet to amplify anger and hatred), this episode has a premise that would go over the heads of kids but is blatantly clear to an adult.
It’s an older Black couple that is being pushed out of their home so fat, wealthy white people can bulldoze their house to put up money-making restaurants. That shit isn’t fiction—it’s based totally on reality. And now the play on the title “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” all makes sense.
WHAT’S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO?
A SCOOBY-DOO HALLOWEEN (2003)
This is the gang’s first of two Halloween encounters with the band KISS. They travel to the home of Velma’s aunt and uncle, where KISS is headlining a festival for the holiday.
They soon learn of a local legend about a spirit that is going to return for revenge.
Sure there turns out to be a ghost, but better than the lame ghost are the evil scarecrows with sharp weapons. Awesome.
Not only do Scoob and Shag dress as each other for Halloween, but there’s also a fun in-joke for us genXers; a dude dressed as Hong Kong Phooey gets annoyed when a teenager doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be.
SCOOBY-DOO AND THE GOBLIN KING (2008)
The first major Halloween movie for the gang, this one really blows it except for one great scene that makes up for an earlier Halloween disaster.
It begins at a Halloween carnival, but the gang quickly gets kicked out after exposing a magician as a fraud.
From that point on, this Scooby-Doo movie goes on an acid trip.
The magician draws the magic from a fairy that looks like Tinker Bell dressed as Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi in order to steal powers from the goblin king of the underworld.
Scoob and Shag are sent by what is essentially the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland to cut him off at the pass.
In the underworld they encounter plenty of classic monsters, which leads to the highlight of the film—a kick-ass chase with the Headless Horseman, complete with the covered bridge. This totally makes up for that first ever Scooby Halloween disappointment.
Other notable aspects include Lauren Bacall voicing a witch and Tim Curry voicing the goblin king.
Unfortunately, this is so out of the realm of the silly reality in which regular Scooby-Doo mysteries are usually based that it doesn’t even feel like Scooby-Doo. However, we do get to see Scooby and Shaggy in Daphne and Velma drag.
SCOOBY-DOO! AND KISS:
ROCK AND ROLL MYSTERY (2015)
The Scooby gang once again meets KISS in a full-length feature that’s sort of like a sequel to the movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. And while it’s supposedly Halloween themed, there’s barely even any mention of the holiday, and not a decoration or pumpkin in sight. The whole point of the plot is to get rid of the baddie before a KISS Halloween concert even happens.
However, viewed as a “KISS meets the Scooby gang” movie, it totally rocks. The animated KISS action rules, especially Gene Simmons and his tongue.
The band has special powers, and they team up with the Scooby gang when a witch begins to terrorize their KISS amusement park.
Unfortunately, the witch kind of sucks. Rather than a traditional witch, she’s a futuristic sci-fi witch. I really wasn’t feeling the baddie at all.
Highlights include Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith doing the voices of two roller coaster workers at the beginning (not as Jay and Silent Bob), and music montages featuring KISS tracks like “Rock n Roll All Nite”, “Shout It Out Loud”, and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”.
BE COOL, SCOOBY-DOO!
This basic 20-minute episode is full of Halloween fun and a classic witch enemy.
Hell, she even looks like she lives in the Evil Dead cabin.
In this tale, Velma is a stick in the mud who feels like Halloween is a mockery, Daphne, Scoob, and Shag are totally ready to party, and Fred is afraid to celebrate because things always go bad at Halloween.
Highlights include a montage of Fred remembering Halloweens past, and Shag and Scoob doing their classic shtick of throwing the baddie off her game with their crazy antics.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SCOOBY-DOO! (2020)
This is the ultimate Scooby-Doo Halloween. It all starts with a Halloween theme song as Elvira hosts a parade and an evil scarecrow busts in to bring real terror to the haunted happenings.
Luckily the Scooby gang is well-equipped for such Halloween emergencies at this point (they’ve been doing this for 5 decades, after all).
I’m not a comic book guy, but apparently this scarecrow dude is a crossover from the Batman universe. However, he’s not the real threat.
In a total horror movie moment, Scoob and Shag go trick or treating and witness toxic waste leaking into a pumpkin patch, leading to the growth of a giant walking pumpkin and little pumpkin minions.
A good chunk of the film becomes a car chase scene, with Elvira in her hearse and the gang in a technologically advanced Mystery Machine with a Bill Nye hologram as their guide.
The Halloween spirit couldn’t be any better, and we even get to see Fred with his shirt off and dancing with a guy dressed in a Fred Flintstone costume at the end.
TRICK OR TREAT, SCOOBY-DOO! (2022)
I’m loving how they keep pumping out Halloween installments, and this one will go down as infamous due to its blatant revelation about Velma’s sexual orientation.
For a Halloween movie, it was sort of annoying that Trick or Treat, Scooby-Doo! begins on a snowy mountain. The segment is short-lived though as the kids solve a case and then—this is brilliant—discover that many of the unmasked baddies in the cases they solve have been getting their costumes from the same company!
This movie does a great job of poking fun at the tropes of the Scooby gang through the years, so it’s easy for those who grew up on the show to appreciate the in-jokes.
Velma immediately falls head over heels for the babe who owns the costume company, whose gothic, ghoulish costume maker apprentice also reads as queer if you ask me.
Meanwhile, all Shaggy and Scooby want to do is trick or treat, but first the gang sets up a booth at a Halloween festival to draw business for Mystery, Inc. It works, because it’s not long before they are being terrorized by a family of ghosts.
There’s a classic chase montage in a creepy library (set to the Sweet classic “Ballroom Blitz”), and a montage of the gang fixing up the Mystery Machine to an awesome now wave song by Joseph Holiday called “Change”, which I believe was created just for this movie!
Considering the film is afforded a song with such an alternative vibe, I was bummed that the original theme song is reimagined in a sort of slower, folk rendition. Blech.
If there’s one major disappointment here, it’s that Scooby-Doo is not all that much of the focus. In fact, late in the game he has to remind everyone that the whole franchise is named after him, so I’m glad I’m not the only one that noticed he deserved more recognition. He and Shaggy just don’t get up to enough shenanigans together this time around. However, in the end, they do get to trick or treat.