Today is Friday the 13th. What better way is there to celebrate Kids Film Friday (the 13th) than with a scary Scooby-Doo mystery?!
Zoinks! Like, real zombies, Scoob!
After one too many of those “meddling kids” speeches, the Mystery Inc crew go their separate ways; Velma to her bookshop specialising in detective stories (called Mystery Ink, natch); Daphne to host her own TV series, with Fred as her producer and one-man crew; and Shaggy and Scooby to work as a Customs sniffer dog and handler at the local airport. Daphne decides to find a real supernatural event for a segment for her show, and Fred invites the rest of the gang as a surprise. On the hunt in Louisiana, they come across an island in the bayou with its own legend of being haunted by a long-dead pirate named Moonscar. Hijinks and snackage ensue.
Released straight to video in 1998, this was the first of the animated Scooby-Doo features that kick-started the revival of the franchise, leading to a new regular series as well as the four live-action flicks. And on the strength of this, I can see why. Zombie Island is 73 minutes of non-stop Scooby action with a twist: this is no disgruntled janitor in a mask. The zombies, ghosts and immortal vampire werecats are all real*. Yeah, you heard me. I said immortal vampire werecats. But it gets better. The twist has a twist of its own. [Yarrgh!] Thanks, Cap’n. The zombies and ghosts are the good guys! They’re the victims of the immortal vampire werecats who roam the island on the night of the harvest moon hoping to scare off any new potential victims, since the immortal vampire werecats need to drain the life force of new victims on that night every year to stay alive. Genius. [Spoilers be gone, yarrrgh]
I can’t speak for the Scooby-Doo faithful, but for a casual fan like me this is a cracking flick. Although the voice actors have changed from time to time – with the exception of Fred, who has been played since 1969 by Frank “Megatron” Welker – nobody sounds jarringly wrong. Shaggy is actually played here by Billy West from Futurama; Casey Kasem apparently quit after the producers refused to make Shaggy a vegetarian. This is why vegetarianism is wrong. Don’t do it kids. Have another steak. Mmm, steak. Sorry about that, I got a little distracted for a second. If you plan on showing this to very young kids, you might want to watch it yourself first. Some of the zombie and immortal vampire werecat action is actually pretty hard-core for a cartoon. Put it this way: if this had been shot live-action, it could easily have ended up with an R rating. Can you imagine an R-rated Scooby-Doo film? It sounds awesome, or is that just me?
*You can’t call this a spoiler, because it’s written right on the DVD blurb.