Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is a 1998 direct-to-video animated comedy horror film based on Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo Saturday-morning cartoons. In the film, Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma, and Daphne reunite after a year-long hiatus from Mystery, Inc. to investigate a bayou island said to be haunted by the ghost of the pirate Morgan Moonscar.
|Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island|
|Directed by||Jim Stenstrum|
|Produced by||Cosmo Anzilotti|
|Screenplay by||Glenn Leopold|
|Story by||Glenn Leopold|
by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears
Mary Kay Bergman
|Music by||Steven Bramson|
|Edited by||Paul Douglas|
|Distributed by||Warner Home Video|
It is the first in a long-running series of direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films; succeeded by Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost (1999). Production started at Hanna-Barbera, but was then completed by its then-new parent company, Warner Bros. Animation (which would produce all subsequent Scooby-Doo films). It was also the first of four Scooby-Doo direct-to-video films to be animated overseas by Japanese animation studio Mook Animation. The film was released direct-to-video on September 22, 1998 and premiered on Cartoon Network on October 31, 1998. The film received acclaim from critics who praised the animation, voices and writing. The film also has a much darker tone than the original series. Unlike in the original series, promotional commercials for the movie announced that "This time, the monsters are real!"
The members of Mystery, Inc. go their separate ways after becoming bored of mystery solving. Daphne Blake, along with Fred Jones, starts running a successful television series. Velma Dinkley becomes the proprietor of a mystery bookstore, and Scooby-Doo and his owner Shaggy Rogers bounce from job to job. For Daphne's birthday, Fred decides to get the gang back together for a road trip while Daphne is filming her show.
After encountering a lot of fake monsters, the gang finally arrives in New Orleans. They are soon invited by a young woman named Lena Dupree to visit Moonscar Island, her employer's home, which is allegedly haunted by the ghost of the pirate Morgan Moonscar. Although the gang is skeptical, they go with Lena, to whom Fred has taken a fancy.
On the island, the gang meets Lena's employer Simone Lenoir as well as the ferryman Jacques and Simone's gardener Beau Neville, to whom Daphne takes a fancy. They also meet Snakebite Scruggs, an ill-natured fisherman, and his hunting pig, Mojo. The gang sets out to prove that the "ghost" is a fake. Scooby and Shaggy are chased by Mojo and end up falling into a big hole, where they encounter the ghost and reanimated corpse of Morgan Moonscar. By the time the rest of the gang comes to investigate, Moonscar is not around.
Simone invites the gang to her house to stay for the night. As the gang is dressing up for dinner, Shaggy sees the ghost of a Confederate colonel in the mirror; Simone explains that the island was a temporary headquarters for a Confederate regiment during the American Civil War. Due to Scooby's antagonism to Simone's cats, he and Shaggy eat in the Mystery Machine, but find the food spicy and get some water from the lake, where an army of zombies emerge. Shaggy's bad driving gets the Mystery Machine stuck in the mud, forcing him and Scooby to flee on foot.
Fred and Daphne find the Mystery Machine, but no sign of Shaggy and Scooby. They argue about each other's supposed love interests and come across Scooby and Shaggy. They manage to capture a zombie, which is revealed to be real. As the zombies swarm around them, the gang splits in panic. Elsewhere, Scooby and Shaggy discover wax voodoo dolls that look like Fred, Velma and Daphne, and they play with them, causing their friends to undertake a series of involuntary actions for a short time until they leave after disturbing a nest of bats.
Fred, Daphne, Velma and Beau return to Simone's house and discover a secret passage under the staircase. They find Lena, who tells them that the zombies took Simone away. Daphne, Fred, Velma, Lena and Beau find a secret chamber for voodoo rituals, where Velma finds footprints of Simone's heels and interrogates Lena about the story. Simone then appears, and she and Lena use voodoo dolls to trap the gang in the chamber. They reveal themselves to be evil cat creatures. Simone tells them that hundreds of years ago, she and Lena were part of a group of settlers who were devoted to a cat god. The vengeful Lena and Simone asked their cat god to curse Morgan Moonscar and his pirate crew, who had chased the settlers into the bayou and were killed by alligators. Their wish was granted and they killed the pirates, but the curse caused the duo to become cat creatures permanently, requiring that they drain life forces to preserve their immortality. They also gave Jacques immortality so they had a ferryman to bring them more victims. The zombies' intent was to warn the gang to leave to escape their fate.
By now, Jacques has transformed into his werecat form, and started chasing Shaggy and Scooby. After catching them, the zombies then appear and pin Jacques to the ground, giving Scooby and Shaggy their chance to escape. The two of them accidentally tumble into the cave, interrupting the draining ceremony and distracting the cat creatures. Velma quickly unties herself and creates voodoo dolls of Lena and Simone to interrupt their ritual. When they are finally cornered, the cat creatures' curse expires, causing Simone, Lena and Jacques to disintegrate, freeing the zombies' souls to rest in peace. Beau is then revealed to be an undercover police officer sent to investigate the disappearances on the island. Daphne offers Beau a chance to guest-star on her show and discuss the adventure. The next morning, Fred and Daphne become a couple again and everyone leaves the island via ferry to head back to town. A post-credits scene shows Scooby making peace with some of Simone's cats by giving them a saucer of milk.
- Scott Innes as Scooby-Doo
- Billy West as Shaggy Rogers
- Mary Kay Bergman as Daphne Blake
- B.J. Ward as Velma Dinkley
- Frank Welker as Fred Jones
- Adrienne Barbeau as Simone Lenoir
- Tara Strong as Lena Dupree
- Cameron Clarke as Beau Neville
- Jim Cummings as Jacques
- Mark Hamill as Snakebite Scruggs
- Jennifer Leigh Warren as Chris
- Ed Gilbert as Mr. Beeman
The film's screenplay was written by Glenn Leopold, of Disney's Doug and writer for 1980's Scooby series; Davis Doi, then a writer for Hanna-Barbera's production Dexter's Laboratory, also contributed to the final script. When drafting the film, Doi would occasionally go to Iwao Takamoto — the original designer of Scooby-Doo, still working at Hanna-Barbera — for advising on scenes. Takamoto called the film "a good solid mystery", and storyboarded several sequences of interplay between Shaggy and Scooby for him. After Don Messick's death, Scott Innes replaced Messick as the voice of Scooby-Doo. Casey Kasem did not reprise his role as Shaggy Rogers as he wished to only voice Shaggy if the character became a vegetarian, like himself. Instead, Billy West provided the voice for Shaggy. Mary Kay Bergman was cast as Daphne when the character was taken in a new direction. B.J. Ward, who played Velma in the Johnny Bravo crossover episode, reprised her role in this film. Frank Welker is the only actor from the original series to reprise his role.
The film was directed by Jim Stenstrum, who worked as a character designer on numerous previous Scooby-Doo productions, beginning in 1983 with The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show. Hiroshi Aoyama and Kazumi Fukushima directed the film as well, but are not credited on the picture. The film was dedicated to the memory of Don Messick. Production started at Hanna-Barbera, the company that originally created Scooby-Doo, but was finished at Warner Bros. Animation (Hanna-Barbera's operations had moved to the Warner Bros. Television Animation building in 1998), whom would then go on to produce all subsequent Scooby-Doo direct-to-video movies (though still copyrighted to Hanna-Barbera).
This and the following three films had a darker tone than the original animated series (Scooby-Doo, Where are You! and several spinoffs), and the marketing emphasized: "This time, the monsters are real." However, it's worth noting that Scooby writers had introduced real supernatural elements into the franchise back in 1980 with the second season of Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, possibly to avoid some of the show's formulaic trappings. In the first segment, "A Close Encounter with a Strange Kind," the series takes its first delve into science fiction when Shaggy is abducted by real aliens. In the second segment, "A Fit Night Out for Bats," Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy spend the night in a castle with a real vampire and eventually escape from him. No attempt is made at an unmasking, and the characters don't comment on how unusual it is for them to meet a real monster. (Notably, though, in the third and final segment of the episode, "The Chinese Food Factory," the monster turns out to be a criminal in disguise again.)
Supernatural elements would continue to be incorporated through the remaining Scrappy series and through TV movies until Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988). However, there are several notable differences between this production and earlier ones to feature real monsters. First, Fred, Daphne and Velma are all present; they had frequently been absent during the earlier adventures. Second, Scrappy is absent from this story, as he has been in all productions since 1988 (except for comical cameos). Third, this was the first storyline to focus on the gang's surprise at the monsters not being fake. So Zombie Island does at least feature some breaks with tradition.
Composer Steven Bramson, who is known for Tiny Toon Adventures, JAG and the Lost in Space film, wrote all the music for the feature. The soundtrack for the film features three songs composed specifically for the film. "The Ghost Is Here" and "It's Terror Time Again", both written by Glenn Leopold, were performed by Skycycle. The title track, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!", was performed by Third Eye Blind. The film was animated and is presented in standard 1.33:1 full frame format.
The film was aided by a reportedly $50 million promotional push, with tie-ins including the Campbell Soup Company, SpaghettiOs, 1-800-COLLECT, Wendy's, LEGO, and Cartoon Network, who debuted the film on television on October 31, 1998, after a month themed after the series. It was also promoted as part of the network's "Wacky Racing" sponsorship deal with Melling Racing in 1998, as the third of four paint schemes featured on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series #9 Ford Taurus driven by then-rookie Jerry Nadeau. The paint scheme debuted at Richmond International Raceway in the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 on September 12, 1998, and was featured on the car through the Dura Lube Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on October 25, 1998, for a total of seven races out of the thirty-three race schedule.
The film received positive reviews, and currently holds a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Donald Liebenson of the Chicago Tribune described the film as "ambitious" and calls it "a nostalgic hoot [that] resurrects all the touchstones of the original cartoons." Entertainment Weekly's Joe Neumaier praised the film as "Fast, fun, and filled with knowing winks, the mystery honors the show’s beloved structure, but writ large." A 1998 New York Times article by Peter M. Nichols complimented the film as "well-made."
The film has received a following of fans who credit it for resurrecting the Scooby-Doo franchise, and for being significantly darker than the original series.
A sequel, titled Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island, is in development with a 2019 release date. It will have its world premiere at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2019 to be followed by a digital release on September 3, 2019 and on DVD on October 1, 2019.
Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost was released on October 5, 1999.
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- IMDB - Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998) (V) - Soundtracks
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Come fall, the theory could be tested with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, a direct-to-video release set to get a Warner Bros.-backed $50 million promotional push, with partners that include Campbell Soup, MCI, Lego and others.
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- Donald Liebenson (September 24, 1998). "Barking Up A New Tree". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
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- Peter M. Nichols (September 18, 1998). "Home Video; Fall Zombies And Ghosts". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "I've concluded work on Return To Zombie Island..." June 2018.
- "Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island (2019) - Overview - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
- WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT PREMIERES ‘BATMAN: HUSH’, ‘TEEN TITANS GO!’, MORE AT SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2019 - San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog