"Mystery, Inc. is back in business!"
The year is 1997. Most people would have figured the Scooby-Doo
franchise had pretty much run its course
. It had been 6 years since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
was cancelled, the only sign of life in the franchise being a made-for-TV-movie in 1994 called Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights
in which Scooby barely appeared, and the ever-present reruns of exploits from decades past.
Then, out of nowhere, came something totally unexpected. Children and parents everywhere stared in amazement at one thing: a trailer packed into the cassettes of several Warner Bros.
The trailer had sleek animation, dark colors, and featured a seemingly truly dark and potentially scary movie... and it featured Scooby-Doo and Shaggy running for their lives. The title? Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
. The tagline? This time, the monsters are real
. It was short, but it was enough to send kids everywhere into a furor.
Cut to 1998. Parents and kids grab the video off of video and rental stores' shelves. They're expecting something fun, nothing more dangerous than the average Scooby
mystery. To their horror-filled delight, the latter assumption turned out wrong.
With a warmly-received journey into relatively mature writing, Zombie Island
marked a or, in some peoples' opinions, the
high point in the Scooby-Doo
franchise. The film, as mentioned before, is beautifully animated more so than any incarnation before and still unmatched today with a literally dark and realistic feel to it. On top of that, it featured a somewhat cynical/mature look at what happened to Mystery Inc. after their adventures were done, which would be touched on again in The Movie
, but with less success. Characters were more fleshed out and three-dimensional, especially the newly empowered Daphne. The irrelevant pop songs of past cartoons gave way to Alternative and Metal music. The story appealed to older viewers with honest-to-goodness death as part of the backstory, and the end result for the gang if they didn't win.note
And the best part of it all? No contrived story with a guy in a mask... just like the ads promised, they were Real. Stinkin'. Zombies
. Probably the only complaint the movie generated was, "it's too scary for young Scooby fans
." That's the price that comes when you Shoo Out the Clowns
The success of Zombie Island
led to the creation of three more direct-to-video movies covering mysteries Scooby and the gang would solve as adults, starting with Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost
. The success of those
caused a wholesale revival of the franchise, culminating in a live-action film
and the first new TV series in over a decade, What's New, Scooby-Doo?
(with more series to follow). The Direct-to-Video movies would also continue, even if the animation quality was not often up to the high standards set by Zombie Island
Production started at Hanna-Barbera
, but it was completed by its then-new parent company, Warner Bros. Animation
after the buyout. WB has produced all subsequent Scooby-Doo
The movie starts with Fred inviting Daphne, Scooby, Shaggy, and Velma to a long-awaited Mystery Inc. reunion, held in honor of Daphnes birthday. The five of them travel to New Orleans
in order to find real monsters to discuss on Daphne's talk show. After effortlessly exposing several creature impostors, the gang accepts an offer to visit Moonscar Island. The island is home to a French chili pepper plantation owner named Simone Lenoir, and has become the site of several disappearances over the years. While there, our heroes grapple with zombies and voodoo, death becomes a real threat, and the adventure grows legitimately dark and scary for a kid's film.Zombie Island
is also notable for having the first permanent shakeup of the franchise's vocal cast
.± Don Messick
, Scooby-Doo's long-time voice, retired in 1996 and died in 1997 shortly before recording could begin the movie is dedicated to his memory; Scooby himself is played by Scott Innes instead. Casey Kasem, who had played Shaggy in every incarnation of the franchise up to this point, declined to reprise his role here after refusing to voice the character in a Burger King commercial (though he would return four years later after he successfully fought for the character to be a vegetarian), so Shaggy is played for the first and only time by Billy West±
. Daphne and Velma are played here by Mary Kay Bergman
and BJ Ward
respectively, replacing original VA's Heather North and Nicole Jaffe (also respectively; both original voices would briefly return four years later). Frank Welker
, reprising his role of Fred, was the only original cast member to return.
This film provides examples of the following Tropes: