Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

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When Mystery Inc. decides to get back together and start investigating mysteries again they hope of finding a real monster, but in doing so they might get more than they bargained for.

You’re talking to someone who used to be a major Scooby Doo fan. I grew up watching a ton of Scooby Doo, I must have seen every episode at least half a dozen times. I loved their mystery solving adventures, though I always wondered why each time a mystery came up they thought it might be a real monster stalking them. Sure it only took about half an episode for them to figure out it was a person behind whatever ghoulish creature they were investigating, but they usually started off thinking that there was a real ghoul or ghost or whatever the fuck someone choose to dress up as (wasn’t there a popsicle monster that was made up of actual popsicles that were constantly melting but never went anywhere somehow, seems like the least threatening thing to me, Gary, the creepy ice cream man in my neighborhood is scarier than that). If I were them I would just immediately assume it was a dude in a costume trying to get away with whatever it is he would have gotten away with if it weren’t for those meddling kids. Also, in what world does dressing up as a monster to scare people away from property actually work? And why does it take a gang of mystery solving teenagers to do what the police should be doing? Do they have a license or something? Also, HOLY SHIT, they have a talking dog. Why does no one seem to understand the importance of this? I used to think about those things all the time, not so much these days though. The Matthew Lillard/Freddie Prinze Jr./Sarah Michelle Gellar shit fest pretty much killed my love for Scooby Doo. It was years after seeing that film before I watched another Scooby Doo episode. I’m pretty sure the Scooby Doo live action film was the worst cartoon adaption every made. Oh wait, I forgot about watching the Jem preview earlier.

We begin our Scooby tale several years after Mystery Inc. has disbanded. Fred produces Daphne’s show Coast to Coast with Daphne Blake, Velma owns her own book store specializing in mystery books because of course she does, and Shaggy and Scooby work security at an airport (though they both lose their jobs when they eat all the confiscated food in a customs office). During an episode of Coast to Coast Daphne reminisces about her time solving mysteries, regretting that they never found a real monster. This gives Fred an idea and he surprises Daphne by getting the gang back together, intending to take Coast to Coast on the road, solving mysteries on camera and hopefully finding a real monster. After solving several mysteries in which it’s business as usual and regular people are discovered to be behind the cause of trouble they find themselves in New Orleans, LA where a woman named Lena (voiced by the talented Tara Strong) invites them to come check out Moonscar Isaland, a place where the dead are said to come to life at night. The gang accepts the invite, expecting to find yet more criminal shenanigans, their primary suspect being an ornery fisherman named Snakebite Scruggs (voiced of Mark Hamill). After landing on the island they are introduced to plantation owner Simone Lenoir (Adrienne Barbeau), Lena’s employer and sole owner of the island. As day turns to night strange things begin to happen and the gang’s skepticism beings to wane, that skepticism is shattered completely when zombies begin to rise out of the muck all around the island. If the gang wants to survive the night they are going to have to discover why the dead are so restless, otherwise their first real paranormal case is going to be their last.

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{Did anyone else just get “The Boys Are Back in Town” stuck in their head}

I should probably warn anyone looking for a complete blast of nostalgia that there are some changes from the original cartoon, the biggest one being the voices. There is only one of the original five voices for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, that of Frank Welker who has always been the voice of Fred. Sadly, legendary voice actor Don Messick passed away in 1997. Messick was the voice of the original Scooby Doo as well as a whole host of others. He voiced Boo Boo and Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, Bandit and Dr. Benton Quest on Johnny Quest, Bam-Bam Pebbles on The Flintstones, Muttley on Wacky Races, Papa Smurf on The Smurfs, Ratchet and Gears on Transformers, and that’s only a tiny selection of the varied voices he did for all kinds of different cartoons. I could go on and on listing off the cartoons the man has voiced and we’d be here for days if I did, even the cartoons I mentioned had him voicing more than just the character or two I listed. Point is the man was one of the greatest voice talents in cartoon history and his presence is sorely missed by those of us who grew up watching the cartoons he played a part of, which was a huge chunk of them twenty five years ago. Scooby Doo on Zombie Island is even dedicated to the man for all his hard work. Stepping in for Messick is newcomer Scott Innes who had some big shoes to fill but manages to get extremely close to the original. No one can ever replace Messick, but I’ve got to hand it to Innes for getting nearly there. Another one who had some big shoes to fill was new Shaggy voice Billy West. Casey Kasem would only return to voice Shaggy if they agreed to make the character vegetarian just like he was. The producers disagreed with the idea and refused to make the not so subtle stoner a veggie only eater so Kasem walked and West took over the spot. Of course, Billy West was no slouch to the world of voice acting when this came out, having already been the voice of Doug from, well Doug as well as voicing Ren and Stimpy so he had some experience under his belt (though it would be another year before he began voicing my favorite of his, Philip J. Fry from Futurama). To be perfectly honest, I could barely tell the difference between his version of Shaggy and Kasem’s he did such a great job. A pre South Park Mary Kay Bergman steps in as the voice of Daphne, she didn’t have a whole lot of experience before Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, her most prominent role prior being a villain on Captain Planet, but much as the others she manages to capture Daphne very well, almost perfectly in fact. The last to fill out the team is voice actress B.J. Ward. Personally, I thought she did the worst job among the five. It wasn’t horrible by a long shot, but it just wasn’t quite there. It was very close, close enough it doesn’t hurt the movie by a longshot, it just could have been a little closer.  Among the voice actors are a few celebrities as well. Horror and sci-fi actress Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York) voices plantation owner Simone, voice actress Tara Strong, a veteran voice actress with quite a few notches on her belt, though it was her work in Drawn Together that originally had me research her roles, voices Simone’s employee Lena, voice actor Cam Clarke, who you may be more familiar with as Leonardo from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, voices ferryman Beau who works for both Simone and Lena, and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill voices angry fisherman Snakebite Scruggs. I thought all the newcomers did a good job in voicing characters that had previously been voiced by others for years, capturing the way these characters spoke almost perfectly. I applaud the effort they had to have put into getting their voices so close. I imagine it was a daunting task for them to have known people were going to be paying such close attention to how close they got to the originals as they were voicing characters many people loved and adored. The other voice actors for the various other characters did a great job too, using their voices to bring the characters to life for the viewer and capturing the vocal mannerisms these people were supposed to have.

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{R.I.P. Mr. Messick}

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{Seriously, fuck these people}

I enjoyed the story as well. It was nice to see Scooby and the gang finally come across real ghosts and monsters (zombies in this case) instead of finding yet more people hiding behind masks. There’s been a few instances of Scooby and Shaggy running into something truly paranormal like The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, but it’s always either just been those two on their own, accompanied by new characters, or with one or two members of the gang tagging along. Whenever it was the entire group of Mystery Inc. getting together to solve a mystery the end result was always the same, some asshole put on a mask to scare people away. This was the first time that the monsters were real (monsters being zombies here, well, zombies and something else but I don’t want to ruin it for you) and there wasn’t anyone hiding behind a costume. Also, the reasons for the zombies being there goes beyond just wanting the property or some hidden treasure located on the property. There is actually a fairly creepy reason they are there and why they can’t stay dead. Again, not going to ruin it for you, but the way it all played out was almost exactly like an old episode of Scooby-Doo, just with the exception that the haunting is very real. Not only that, but the danger to Mystery Inc. seems very imminent, as if something terrible could actually happen to them. It’s a Scooby Doo cartoon so you know that nothing bad is really going to happen to them, but it still felt like something might. They did a good job updating the cartoon while keeping its old school feel as well. This is something that a kid new to Scooby Doo would like, but at the same time it’s something that those of us who grew up watching it can like as well. It felt like the cartoon had grown up a bit and still maintained the feel of sitting in front of the TV every weekend as a kid to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Don’t mistake me, it’s in no way an adult cartoon, it’s still very much for kids, but I think it’s changed just enough to have evolved as a cartoon while still being the cartoon I watched when I was younger. The animation was the same way as well. It looks a lot better than it did years back, much cleaner and with more definition, but it hasn’t changed so much that it’s unrecognizable.

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{We’ve got pirate zombies}

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{We’ve got Civil War zombies}

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{And we’ve even got gangster zombies}

If you were ever a Scooby Doo fan I think you’re going to love Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, if you’re a zombie fan as well you’re going to love it all that much more. This is also the perfect movie to sit down and watch with your younger children, nieces, or nephews. Not only will they get a kick out of it, but you will as well.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Hiroshi Aoyama (Wolverine {Animated TV Series}, Rocket Girls), Kazumi Fukushima (Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors), and Jim Stensturm (Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders)

Starring: Scott Innes (Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders), Billy West (Futurama, Ren and Stimpy), Mary Kay Bergman (South Park, Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost), Frank Welker (G.I. Joe, Transformers), B.J. Ward (G.I. Joe, Voltron)

Released By: Hann-Barbera Productions and Warner Bros. Animation

Release Year: 1998

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Unrated

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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