Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island

1998, Movie, NR, 77 mins

Review

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The timorous and articulate (sort of) cartoon dog is back in SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND, a watchable made-for-video feature that immediately sets out to establish that this is not your parents' Scooby-Doo by having Third Eye Blind perform a rocking new rendition of the immortal theme song "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" under the opening credits.

Daphne (voice of Mary Kay Bergman), the host of a TV show about supernatural phenomena, and her cameraman-boyfriend Fred (voice of Frank Welker) round up their old gang: Shaggy (voice of Billy West), his dog Scooby-Doo (voice of Scott Innes), and Velma (voice of B.J. Ward), to accompany them to look for a haunted house. In New Orleans, they meet a woman named Lena (voice of Tara Charendoff), who takes them to the supposedly haunted home of Simone (voice of Adrienne Barbeau), whose mansion is filled with hundreds of cats and a mysterious gardener named Beau (voice of Cam Clarke). Strange incidents begin to occur, including levitations and the appearance of pirate ghosts, but Velma suspects that Beau is just trying to scare them away, until they're menaced by some real zombies that rise out of a bayou.

When Fred, Daphne, and Velma go back to Simone's mansion, they discover an underground passage and see Simone and Lena practicing voodoo rituals. Simone ties them up and reveals that she's a cat creature who's more than 200 years old and plans to preserve her immortality by draining their blood during the Harvest Moon. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo stumble onto the cave and free their friends during a fight with Simone and Lena, who decompose when the Harvest Moon passes, and the zombies, who were actually Simone and Lena's past victims, thank the gang for avenging their spirits. Beau reveals that he's an undercover detective and agrees to go on Daphne's TV show. In the meantime, Fred has dropped his camera--the camera that videotaped evidence of the ghosts and zombies.

The animation in ZOMBIE ISLAND is somewhat more sophisticated than it was in the old Saturday-morning TV series, effecting a slightly anime look with soft, rounded contours and lots of noirish shadows and dark borders. The rudimentary slapstick is obviously geared for kids, but they're likely to get fidgety over the fairly complicated plot, taking more than 20 minutes to set up the story and utilizing a lengthy monochrome flashback to show how Simone became an immortal cat creature. Taking over from Casey Kasem for the high-pitched, squealing Shaggy, cartoon voice veteran Billy West ("Ren & Stimpy") sounds more like Casey than Casey ever did, and there is also some tongue-in-cheek comedy for older viewers which pokes fun at the series' absurdities, such as an amusing running gag centering on the talking Scooby's incredulity at being called a dog by strangers. Still, there's no getting around the fact that the show is primarily based on the rather limited comic possibilities of overeating (Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are constantly stuffing themselves with their beloved Scooby Snax), and of being scared, with Velma endlessly exclaiming "Jinkys," Scooby chewing his nails, and Shaggy screaming "Zoinks" at every opportunity. leave a comment

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