Article first published as DVD Review: Monster High: Ghouls Rule on Blogcritics.
Monster High is a line of dolls that the Los Angeles based Barbie maker, Matell introduced a couple of years ago to expand the doll market they already dominate. If you haven’t seen them, the spooky dolls look nothing the Barbies on the shelf next to them. Now, even though Halloween has come and gone, your kids might not have gotten quite enough of the holiday. For those kids, there’s a new DVD. Monster High: Ghouls Rule is the first DVD movie release for the brand, though episodes have been on cable TV and online and a promotional DVD was previously released.
The ghouls in Monster High are all Bratz-like interpretations of classic horror movie monsters. Of course the emphasis is on the girls. The main characters range from Frankie Stein, the daughter of Frankenstein and Clawdeen Wolf, the daughter of the werewolf, to Draculaura, the 1,600 year-old daughter of Count Dracula, of course. The delivery of the series is geared towards younger girls, as typified by Draculaura’s quirks. Though she is a vampire, she is both hemophobic and a vegan. Monster High is much closer to its Barbie roots than the more macabre Living Dead Dolls.
The story of Monster High: Ghouls Rule is somewhere between every high school movie ever made and Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, though not nearly as dark. While adults would probably not find much in Ghouls Rule to warrant dedicating an hour to watch alone, it isn’t too juvenile for a mixed viewing. Ghouls Rule tells the story of Frankie’s first Halloween and unfortunately there are some high jinks going on at Monster High involving the ‘normies’ that live in nearby New Salem. Like years of watching Scooby Doo has taught us, nothing is ever as easy to solve as it seems and no one is really exactly like you think they are.
Ghouls Rule, while being set at Halloween is really more about interpersonal relationships. While this may discourage some viewers, the path taken makes for a more entertaining story all around. Unlike many other animated films, Ghouls Rule follows a couple of different storylines throughout as many of the teenage staples us parents grew up watching. Don’t get me wrong, Pretty in Pink or 90210, this is not but, many of the same themes run throughout the short film. If this is your first experience with the animated Monster High, the oversized heads and Sims-like animation might take a bit of getting used to but, more than likely even the adults won’t hate it.
The Monster High: Ghouls Rule DVD does also contain a few extras. The DVD sports three previously unreleased short web episodes; Flowers for Slow Moe, I Scream, You Scream, and No Ghouls Allowed. If you enjoyed the movie, you should find them entertaining. The widescreen presentation appears to be a digital direct transfer and surprisingly offers English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio. Subtitles are also available in all three languages. The total running time is about an hour and 12 minutes.
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