Spooky Buddies is the fifth in the seven-film Air Buddies series, a spinoff of the five-film Air Bud series, and cousin of the fellow spinoff Santa Paws and Pup Star series.
The 2011 straight-to-DVD film is also a kid-friendly Halloween movie with dogs, and provides non-scary fun for those viewers in the mood for a spooky(ish) movie.
Spooky Buddies was directed by Robert Vince, produced by Anna McRoberts, and written by the two of them together, and it again follows the children of Air Bud in their various adventures.
Lead voice roles feature G Hannelius (Dog with a Blog, Good Luck Charlie) as Rosebud, Skyler Gisondo as B-Dawg, Charles Henry Wyson as Buddha, Nico Ghisi as Budderball, and Ty Pantz as Mudbud. Tim Conway (Air Bud: Golden Receiver, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Gus) reprises his role as Deputy Sniffer the Bloodhound.
Spooky Buddies is a fun Halloween movie with dogs that perfect for young kids who want to get into the spooky spirit.
In 1937 Fernfield, Washington, a warlock named Warwick has kidnapped five Beagle puppies to sacrifice to the Halloween Hound; a ritual that is interrupted by the arrival of the sheriff and a small mob of concerned citizens.
Due to the ritual being interrupted, Warwick disappears into a void and one of the puppies, Pip, becomes a ghost.
Three-quarters of a century later (so 2012, but more on the timeline later), Warwick’s house is a local legend that schoolkids go on field trips to. These schoolkids include the Buddies’ owners, Alice (Rosebud), Billy (B-Dawg), Pete, Sam and Bartleby (Budderball).
For some reason the Buddies have tagged along outside, and his siblings’ teasing leads B-Dawg to sneak inside the house and chant “Halloween Hound” three times, thus accidentally releasing the Hound and Warwick.
When Billy decides to go his history report on the curse of the Halloween Hound, the kids drop by the sheriff’s office, where they uncover Warwick’s staff, which goes nicely with Billy’s wizard outfit.
The kids and puppies go trick or treating while Warwick searches for his missing staff, with a lot of important plot information occurring during this sequence: Pip the ghost dog finds the Buddies and they decide to help him return to real life, Warwick recovers his staff at a party, and the human kids meet Joseph, an elderly organist and gardener who grouchily assists when he hears about the strange(r than usual, given this is Fernfield) goings-on.
Warwick and the Hound capture the Buddies and release a spell that turns the townspeople into zombies, Joseph and the kids hide from the monsters in a church and map out a plan to rescue the dogs.
At the crumbling house, eventually the baddies are defeated and Pip returns to real life, reuniting with his human, Joseph (who was a little boy in the opening sequence), and everything returns to normal.
In the closing scene, Joseph has bought an RV and plans to go roaming around the country with Pip, which sounds like a good life.
What we thought
These movies must operate on a sliding timescale, because Buddy was adopted by the Framms in the mid-1990s as a fully-grown adult, and while it’s unclear exactly when the Buddies were born, Buddy and Molly’s first puppies were born in the late 90/early 2000s. It’s unclear if Buddy and Molly are still living past the first Air Buddies movie, but the Buddies themselves stay puppies for roughly a decade.
That quibble aside, while including magic seems like a bit of a strange turn for the universe, it does explain why canines are able to accomplish so many amazing feats.
Ryan Stiles (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show) and Deidrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) all excel at their roles as the uptight minion Hoot the Owl, insecure medium Zelda the Chinese Crested Dog and the Hound, respectively.
Of the human actors, Rance Howard (father of Ron and Clint, grandfather of Bryce) is perfect for Joseph, and Harland Williams plays an amusing (and vaguely frightening) Warwick. (He also created the animated series Puppy Dog Pals and cameoed in Because of Winn-Dixie.)
The neighborhood from WandaVision is used, and there are hints of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hocus Pocus, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch scattered throughout in a fun, lighthearted watch.
Spooky Buddies is a great introduction to spooky movies for younger kids, and a pleasant watch for dog lovers of all ages.