Plot: The gang heads to Mexico, where Fred’s pen pal Alejo lives and operates a hotel with his family. Of course, no vacation can ever be just a relaxing retreat for the Mystery Machine crew, which means that soon after they arrive, the gang learns that a monster is on the loose in the area. As it happens, a chupacabra is lurking around the hotel and that is bad for business, so Alejo’s income suffers and he feels pressured to sell before things get even worse. This would be great news to several people close to Alejo, which hints at the chance that perhaps this isn’t so much a real monster, as an attempt to push Alejo out of business. But if that is the case, who is behind the ruse and can the gang solve the case in time to keep Alejo’s hotel up and running?

Entertainment Value: I love the premise of Monster of Mexico, as it pits Scooby-Doo and his friends against a chupacabra, which is a great concept. Of course, this is Scooby-Doo and that means the monsters might not be monsters after all, but I like the use of local lore to enhance the narrative. While I wouldn’t rank Monster of Mexico as one of the best animated features in the series, I do appreciate that it sticks with the tried and true formula of the franchise. I don’t mind when new paths are taken, but in these Scooby-Doo animated movies, veering off the time tested formula has led to less than stellar results. Here we have a monster, a mystery, and tons of red herrings, complete with a suspect that happens to run an amusement park, which should be humorous to seasoned Scooby-Doo veterans. The pace is a little slow in places and the humor is flat at times, but overall, this is a passable installment in the series.

This was the last performance of Helen North, who was the voice of Daphne, so at least we were given one final movie with the original four leads. Casey Kasem, Frank Welker, and Nicole Jaffe are also here in their iconic roles, so I think fans will appreciate this last reunion, though it is bittersweet. In addition to the original Mystery Machine crew, we also have performances from Rita Moreno, Maria Canals-Barerra, and of course, the glorious Rip Taylor. I always love to find Rip Taylor in unexpected roles and he has a fun role here, adding some much needed enthusiasm. The animation is good and has a very colorful, well detailed presence. This was made in 2003, so the designs are updated, but still faithful to the iconic original designs, so no concerns there. The Mexican locales are a nice change of pace as well, allowing the animators to showcase some fresh elements for the gang to explore. In the end, Monster of Mexico is inconsistent, but it is a solid watch for fans of Scooby-Doo’s adventures.

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