Saturday, April 19, 2008


I've already got quite a few scoffs and upturned eyebrows when I announced I'd be including this 1998 straight-to-video cartoon as part of 365 Days, and I'm interested to see what the overall reaction is, but c'mon--it's a zombie movie, albeit intended for kids. And while young children aren't the usual demographic for living dead fare, they're really the only ones who'll truly appreciate this; us Gen-Xers who grew up with the original Mystery Machine gang will simply have to be content with the fact that this time, the monsters are (finally) real.

Boasting a richer animation style than its earlier incarnations, yet retaining the same kid-friendly Gothic vibe as the original SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU series, ZOMBIE ISLAND attempts to upgrade the classic formula. After years of solving mysteries, and repeated disappointment that the culprit was always an elaborate hoax involving a man in a costume, Fred, Daphne, and the others have gone their separate ways. When Daphne investigates a Louisiana plantation that's truly haunted as part of her GHOST HUNTERS-ish TV show, the gang reunites to tackle an honest-to-God real ghost.

The film repeatedly acknowledges the frustrating "man in a mask" gambit, and during the first act it slyly introduces us to several would-be red herrings, yet the running gag soon grows tiresome through repetition. Yes, the pirate ghosts are real this time, and as the increasingly chaotic plot picks up, so are the zombies (who are actually presented as the good guys), and the villainous cat creatures (led by a French-accented Adrienne Barbeau). I don't know if screenwriter Davis Doi couldn't settle on one monster, or if he assumed the target audience would be too attention-deficient to sit through a mere haunting story, but it's an incredibly busy 75 minutes--so much that it borders on the exhausting.

Although it casts a knowing wink to the older generation of fans, SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND is a little too juvenile for them to enjoy. (I would've loved this movie to death in the second grade.) And while it may be intended more for kids than Mom and Dad, at least the filmmakers had the good sense to keep that little fucker Scrappy-Doo far, far away.

(Couldn't find a trailer or a good quality clip for this one, so you'll have to settle for the "hard rock" music video for the closing song--with Spanish subtitles, no less; there are, perversely, a number of fan videos on YouTube that set clips of this flick to everything from Kelly Clarkson to Ted Nugent. Hmm.)

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