I'm old enough to remember when the activists who would go on to ruin broadcast television for children first sounded warnings against half hour or one hour commercials, that is animated children's TV shows based upon an existing line of toys. Frankly, I never understood the alleged vast moral difference between doing this as opposed to creating the TV show FIRST and only THEN merchandising the crap out of it with dolls, action figures, boardgames, Underoos, etc., but I DID find the designations useful because in those bad old days, the toy-based TV shows tended to be just awful, and I studiously avoided them.
Well, time has passed, and would be creators of children's videos with even an ounce of controversy or creativity have largely abandoned broadcast TV, first for cable and then for the Internet, and somewhere along the way toy companies figured out that more was required in an era when watching commercials required making a positive choice. As a father of young children, I have been forced to watch more children's videos (of both kinds) than the Geneva Conventions would allow, and for sanity's sake have come to appreciate the ones that try hardest to be clever, including some real surprises. The Barbie videos in particular, instead of being the eye clawing horrors I expected, turned out to be rather entertaining, but the best of them all IMHO have turned out to be the Monster High videos, including this first commercial DVD release. There was an earlier Monster High DVD release of the 1st TV special "New Ghoul at School" but it was only made available in limited editions of the Dawn of the Dance series of dolls:
What makes the Monster High videos work so well IMHO is that the writers are gently making fun of the fashion doll mania that they are in fact trying to promote. Taking the universal American experience of High School and adding the twist of the entire student body being the children of famous monsters gives them endless possibilities for parody (and self parody, as the heroines are for the most part over the top, fashion crazed, popularity obsessed teenagers).
Now to the movie. The plot involves newbie Frankie Stein's first Halloween (she was just recently created by Dr. Frankenstein rather than being born) where she learns to her horror that her fellow monsters regard Halloween (a holiday her normal human teen magazines celebrate) as a day of danger for hiding from humans. In her attempts to get at the truth of the matter, Frankie (as per usual) sets in motion a cascading series of increasing catastrophes that it will be up to her and her friends to salvage a happy ending from (and push a gentle but persistent message that our differences shouldn't unnecessarily divide us). The film also packs in a number of hilarious gags and subplots involving the MC's relationship problems. (You think YOU had BF/GF problems in HS?) Finally, the DVD contains three (formerly) exclusive "webisodes" now watchable for free on the Monster High web site, for some reason arranged in reverse chronological order:
44 Flowers for Slow Moe 39 I Scream, You Scream 38 No Ghouls Allowed
Note: A retailer exclusive version of this DVD is obtainable from certain merchants containing an extra DVD with the first 15 Monster High "webisodes" on it. Of course these "webisodes" are free to view online, but since they are being sold for the same price as the non-exclusive DVD's, they are arguably the better buy.
Note: For some reason the "webisodes" on the retailer exclusive DVD are NOT arranged in chronological order so here is a chronological listing:
01 Jaundice Brothers 02 Talon Show 03 Fear Squad 04 Substitute Creature 05 Party Planners 06 Blue Lagoona 07 Copy Canine 08 The Hot Boy 09 Bad Scare Day 10 Photo Finish 11 Cyrano de Ghoulia 12 Bad Zituation 13 Clawditions 14 Freedom Fight 15 Totally Busted