Rewatching DuckTales! Just in time for Halloween season, here’s a spooky tale in episode 12, “Hotel Strangeduck.”
Here’s what happens: Scrooge has purchased an old castle that he plans to convert to a hotel. He got a good deal on the place, because it is supposedly haunted by the ghost of an old scientist, Dr. Ludwing von Strangeduck. Mrs. Beakely and the nephews are recruited to be the new waitstaff.
On opening weekend, the hotel’s guests include a wealthy duchess and a jet-setting racecar driver. Then the ghost of Dr. Strangeduck makes his presence known by making things float around by themselves. The ghost causes more and more antics as the night goes on, eventually getting dangerous and coming after our heroes with an axe.
Scrooge catches the duchess snooping around in search of a hidden door. This leads to a underground chamber where Scrooge is abducted by the ghost. The nephews free Scrooge, learning the ghost’s chamber is a science lab. They investigate and finding an invisibility spray, just as the ghost tries stealing the duchess’ jewelry. Scrooge and the boys fight the ghost, using the invisibility spray against him.
Scrooge and the ghost fall into the castle moat, revealing the ghost to be Dr. Strangeduck’s former lab assistant Bernardo. Then Dr. Strangeduck himself shows up, coming out of hiding to bring Bernardo to justice. Also, the duchess is Dr. Strangeduck’s long-lost sister. Strangeduck agrees to sell his inventions to Scrooge, and Scrooge gives him and his sister the castle in exchange.
Humbug: A running gag has Scrooge teaching the nephews to earn tips from customers, only to take part of each tip as a management fee.
Junior woodchucks: Again, some small attempt is made to give the three nephews their own personalities. Huey is the take-charge one, leading the investigation, with Dewey as his sidekick, while Louie is one more prone to believe the ghost is real and to be afraid of it.
Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakely says Scrooge offered her a raise (!) to help with the hotel. We see she’s both head of the cleaning staff and head of the kitchen, so I guess she’s earning it.
Fowl fouls: The writers’ attempts to turn this into a mystery is a little head-scratching. The racecar driver is set up as the red herring, even though it’s stated at the start that Dr. Strangeduck is the ghost, and then they reveal it’s really Bernardo, a character not foreshadowed at all. The Disney Wiki has no entry for Bernardo.
Down in Duckburg: We’re not told where this hotel is, although the Duchess says she’s from Swansylvania, leading a lot of fans to believe that’s the location. It appears to be in a remote area, so I guess it’s meant to be an all-inclusive resort hotel.
Reference row: The name Dr. Strangeduck recalls Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, and the haunted hotel premise suggests Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. I guess this is the Kubrick episode.
Thoughts upon this viewing: The ghost/invisibility effects, and the overall haunted castle vibe give the animators a lot of room to make the episode look terrific. The story is all over the place, though, and could maybe have used a few more rewrites.
Next: Shatner: “Khaaaan!!!”
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