I’d be lying if I said that I’m the biggest Scooby Doo fan around. Hell, I’m still stunned that Hanna Barbera has placed so much stock in the franchise for so many decades, but I digress. I had high hopes going in to “Scoob!” as every generation is introduced to Scooby Doo once again in some new form, and “Scoob!” seemed like the right avenue. Not only does it give us a new vision of Scooby Doo, but it makes tweaks to the mythos that I liked, while also establishing a shared Hanna Barbera universe. And yet, at the end of it all, I’d still rather have seen “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island” or “Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost,” again.
No matter how classic or profitable a series or franchise is, studios are always in the market of appealing to a younger audience with a new version of the property. With the success of shows like Muppet Babies and The Flintstone Kids, Hanna-Barbera decided to revisit the formula in 1988 for Scooby-Doo. It was their attempt to win over a new generation of fans while dusting the cobwebs off of the franchise that’d begun to show its age thanks to misguided spin offs and introductions of grating additions like Scrappy Doo and Flim Flam.
Not since “The Witch’s Ghost” has there been a “Scooby Doo” adventure so deeply rooted in Halloween that it qualifies as automatic viewing for the holiday. While it is a change in pace for the Mystery Inc. crew, it’s a fun adventure in to the magic and supernatural element, along with some pretty stellar animation, and a pretty awesome surprise ending that I admittedly didn’t see coming.
As a Hanna Barbera geek, I have to say “Mask of the Blue Falcon” hit all the right notes. I didn’t just have a good time with the surprisingly clever vehicle for the Mystery Inc. crew, but I also had so much fun pointing out all of the Easter Eggs. And yes, every single Easter Egg within “Mask of the Blue Falcon” is a reference to a Hanna Barbera cartoon from the sixties and seventies. I’m just disappointed we didn’t see anything referencing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.” What? It’s an obscenely underrated Scooby Doo wannabe, darnit!
For the uninitiated when Scooby Doo was attempting a new formula, they turned “Scooby Doo” in to a series of movies where they solved crimes with big celebrities like Dick Van Dyke and Sonny and Cher. Among the most popular crossovers was Batman and Robin. For years Batman and Robin were the most consistent allies of Mystery, Inc. getting in to all kinds of scrape ups with them, and battling people like Joker and the Penguin. They just seemed to click. “The Brave and the Bold” continues the long tradition by teaming them together by pairing the modern iteration of Scooby Doo with the family friendly animated “Batman: Brave and Bold” and it works.
If you’re one of the many KISS fans that have always wondered what a sequel to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” would look like, look no further. “Scooby Doo Meets KISS” should be more aptly titled “KISS Meets the Crimson Witch featuring Scooby Doo.” In all honesty, while this is primarily a cartoon for the Scooby Doo franchise, the majority of the film is based around KISS and their magical presences. Even the opening sequence is comprised of wonderful animated KISS montages with “Rock and Roll All Night” playing rather than the Scooby Doo theme song.
Only many, many years later did Hanna Barbera begin presenting the Mystery Machine gang with actual supernatural threats once their audience matured. But even when facing actual zombies, and demons they were never really in actual danger. Director Spencer Parsons completely dodges copyright infringement while cleverly spoofing the iconic cartoon show with his own version of Scooby Doo. This time he offers up a more realistic group of crime solvers in a world where crime is very dangerous, and the police kindly ask them to “fuck off” whenever they solve a case on their own.
When it comes to hardcore well versed Scooby Doo Fans… we’re not one of them. But for a brief (oh so brief) period in the late nineties, Hanna Barbera thought it’d be a good idea before the live action movie to feature the Scoobies solving actual paranormal cases that they presumed were originally just scams and con jobs. “Zombie Island” is one of the best (and few) examples of Scooby-Doo done well and correctly with a case the entire gang gets in on that is creepy and actually risks their lives, in the end. With animation I’m never above being experimental, and my faith in “Zombie Island” was rewarded with a wicked and creepy little yarn about the Mystery Machine group re-uniting after a long stretch on their own.