DTV Wonders: Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

Zombie Island

The Scooby-Doo franchise looked to be nearly dead, and then the undead brought it back to life literally.  It was so good the nostalgia for zombies is still going.  The promise of real monsters was too much for my family to pass up and this is normally considered the best of the franchise.  We watched it a few years after it came out and, it was terror time again.

Image result for scooby doo on zombie island opening

The beginning is very good, as it feels like Scooby-doo with the slapstick and all the characters being true to their personalities,  while introducing the darker atmosphere.  It also does some fourth wall breaking.  Since the recent serieses have normally not had the entire gang together (or made them children) the gang starts having gone their separate ways (done much better than in the live-action movie).  They also get back together quickly.  Does it hold up today?  Part of its importance is giving Fred, the generic guy, a personality.  The recent series, Mystery Incorporated, did that making it seem unnecessary.  It does help show what Daphne will be like this film and give the audience a chance to get used to the new voices.  It also helps with the atmosphere of legit friendship between the gang.  Something that direct-to-videos often excel at.

We then get a good reminder of the usual formula, which helps the climax of the film and will potentially be dull.  It is to a notably exciting montage, but keeping it short and the good darker animation keeps it interesting enough.

One thing this does better that anything is showing Louisiana well (more on this when I get to season 16 of Arthur).  For one we do not celebrate Mardi Gras every day, and it is not shown here.  There are not alligators in the city.  Our accents are not impossible to understand.  We call it New Orle-ans not New Orleenes.  I am pretty sure the writers had been to Louisiana.  Daphne is annoyed that no monsters are real.  She wants a new challenge.

Zombie Island

A local, Lena, then tells them about an island with a real pirate ghost.  She offers to take them there, and Fred wants to go, as he has an instant crush on her and wants to find the guy in the mask.  Daphne wants to go for the chance at a real haunted house.  I think Velma mostly wants to solve another mystery.  They go by ferry where to help add to the more dark mood Shaggy and Scooby are nearly eaten by alligators.  Who saves them?

Zombie Island

He instantly demands everyone else leave.  He growls everything he says, has Mark Hamill’s voice.  He is a hunter, a typical acceptable target, and he looks creepy.  Contrary to what the live action movie said the creepy guy was almost never the villain on the original show.  They were the red herring, and when I saw this at four years old I knew he was the red herring.  I also remembered that since the monsters are going to be real then it must be that no human is the villain.  Today I would have not thought that due to how many characters are introduced, but my four year old mind was not that genre savvy.  After that we are introduced to Beau and Simone.  Beau is also like a red herring but I knew for two reasons why he is not the villain.  He is far too handsome and Velma and Fred suspect him too much.  Simone is clearly the victim who needs help.  I forgot those people were often the villain in the original show.

Simone at first seems to dislike the gang, but she is clearly more receptive when she learns they are interested in the hauntings.  Time to discuss the comic relief antics.  In a few later DTV films, What’s New Scooby-Doo, and Mystery Incorporated Scooby and Shaggy’s antics fit into the plot very well.  Here some are fun, but they mostly distract from the plot.  I am amazed the run time is only 77 minutes with all of them.  Still, it is a powerful scene when they are interrupted by a sword drawing “get out.  beware.”

Image result for scooby-doo on zombie island beware

Rewatch perspective:  Why not write “Beware, your hosts and ferry driver are human sacrificing super strong cat creatures.  Flee and steal some way home.  Take the gardener with you preferably.”  In its defense they probably assume their actual method will be more effective, as they do not know how skeptical of real monsters they are.

The scene is always quite freaky as new words appear in between shots, the music, the characters going from in control to having no idea what is happening.

Zombie Island

Fred is still incredibly convinced it is a hologram (that only appears on tapes instead of regular life).  Daphne thinks it is real, and she wants Fred to consider it.  Velma seems to think it is something she will figure out later, and Shaggy and Scooby think it is an excuse for a picnic.  Until they find Morgan  Moonscar’s ghost as a zombie.

This is quite the frightening image.  The characters move slow to add to the suspense, but the villain does not seem slow.  The fright and confusion from Shaggy and Scooby is way more than I had ever seen before.

Rewatch bonus:  Normally the ghosts are supposedly not trying to hurt them clearly are. Here he has a cutlass, yet he never strikes with it, and it quickly disappears.  Even better in the rewatch what previously was just scary is now scary and sad.  His eyes in the above picture look angry, but that is because he is fighting the villains to save the gang.  He looks more sad and in desperate need of help when he first shows up.

They run into Beau whom Velma is now deeply suspecting due to him always appearing and reapearing in accordance with the zombes.  It actually comes off as Velma being over dramatic.

This film relies on the big moments over being consistently good.  The scenes that build up to bigger events do not need to be good in these types of movies, and one of the biggest scenes is where more zombies come.


Zombie Island

These zombies are full of body horror.  One eve appears to be a pregnant women.  They all look different.  I knew when watching this it would have real monsters, but this is far more scary than I suspected.  Then Fred rips one of their heads off to unmask it only to have a headless creature put its still moving head back on.  He is still in denial, but now a far less honest one. We then get to the chase to the song, “Terror Time Again.”  It is woderful and really develops a style of fear.  Besides “All Dogs go to Heaven” I have never seen a film this scary and it just gets scarier.  This is even scarier than Mystery Incorporated.

After all this Scooby and Shaggy are still running for their lives.  Velma, Fred, Daphne, and Beau flee to the house.  Velma still suspects Beau.  Fred is now speechless.  Daphne knows no one will believe them.  Beau is mad to be a suspect, but now more upset.  According to Lena, Simone has been captured and…

One line by Daphne is “This is more haunted stuff than I really wanted.”  The entire audience agrees.  It turns out Lena and Simone are cat creatures who need to make human sacrifices to stay alive, as they have done for the past 200 years, putting this movies death count at well over two hundred thirty people.

Image result for scooby-doo on zombie island cat creatures vs zombies
If this is Uncle Beauregard it is like my family reunions. 

The climax is just amazing.  It has zombies saving the gang on multiple occasions.  The comedy helps the drama instead of distracting from it.  It is exciting and we get to root for the previous red herring villains, which would be incredibly fun if all the horror, fridge horror, and plots did not overshadow it making it feel like actually being there.  It also has the sweet ending where a Confederate Zombie stays just long enough to thank Scooby-Doo.  The only problem is the resolution is too quick, but that helps make the zombies responsible for saving the day.

This film has a few methods I do not like such as relying on the big scenes rather than making the entire thing great.  It also has mood problems, but other than that it is great.  The acting is  good.  The animation is very good for the story, the plot is wonderfully complex.  The characters are very good.  The idea is something everyone wanted to see, and it gave us way more than the audience thought they wanted to see.  It is a very good film that revived a franchise.


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