“Their spirits have been avenged, Shaggy. They can finally rest in peace.” – Velma
It’s not a secret that I was obsessed with Scooby Doo as a child. I mean, it might not be common knowledge to the general public (it’s not something you can guess by looking at me), but I have never hidden this fact.
I have said it before and I will say it again: It is nearly impossible to find a photo of me as a child where I am not wearing, playing with, or otherwise surrounded by Scooby Doo merchandise. I’m not kidding. I’ve looked through over eight hundred photos. Only a handful fit this criteria.
I loved–I love Scooby Doo.
I think the obsession stems from several other core facts about me.
First, I love dogs. I have two of them now and look for every opportunity to mention them in unrelated conversations, so it only makes sense that I would latch onto Scooby as my surrogate puppy during my dog-less childhood.
Second, I love mysteries. My family defines bonding as watching crime shows with each other. I credit watching primetime detective shows throughout my childhood as a key factor in how I understand plotting as an author. I can usually guess the killer within minutes of an episode now, but that doesn’t stop me from tuning in.
Third, I’m pretty creepy. My mother once bought me a book called The Serial Killer Files, which is basically just an encyclopedia of murder and mayhem, because she “figured I would like it.” I’m not sure what’s worse about that, that she thought that about her sixteen year old daughter or that I TOTALLY LOVED IT. It still sits on my shelf with all my other True Crime books (I have several) and the first book on writing I ever purchased: Strictly Murder! A Writer’s Guide To Criminal Homicide.
Honestly, a series about an awesome dog who solves creepy mysteries with his friends? I was never not going to love Scooby Doo. It was destined to be.
The thing about Scooby Doo though–and this is a pretty big thing–is that the spooky ghost/vampire/killer guy always turned out to be some lackluster old person up to no good. Always human. Usually motivated by greed, money, revenge. It was never actually a monster.
That was something Little Me really liked about Scooby. I knew that there was always a rational explanation (I was very much a Velma) and I really loved trying to solve the mystery with the gang. Nobody was ever really scarred or traumatized and the monsters were never real.
Until Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.
This movie literally starts out with the gang quitting mystery hunting and splitting up because the monsters were never real. I really should have seen the twist coming, especially because I am pretty sure that is also how their first live-action movie starts (yes, I have seen both of these movies about a dozen times more than any rational person should).
I didn’t think anything of it though. I was pretty young when this movie came out, so my plot foreshadowing spider senses hadn’t quite kicked in yet. I was completely prepared to unmask yet another grumpy old rich guy and the movie lulled me into a false sense of security.
Even when things started getting unreasonably creepy, I still didn’t suspect a thing.
Secluded island, mansion on an old plantation, ghosts scratching creepy messages into walls–nothing I hadn’t seen before.
The soundtrack tried to warn me with awesome songs.
Oh the ghost is here and it’s a crook in a suit.
The ghost is here and he’s protecting some loot.
The ghost is here, oh give him the boot.
I should have known. I REALLY SHOULD HAVE GUESSED. Honestly, not only is this the best Scooby Doo soundtrack ever (and trust me, I would know), the Main Chase song “It’s Terror Time Again” is still one of my favorite songs.
This movie, you guys. Even if I had guessed the zombies were real, I would have never guessed the ending of this movie. The bad guys in this movie are literally demon worshipping were-cat monsters who sacrificed and drained tourists, pilgrims, and actual pirates of their life essence to preserve their immortality.
This was a movie made for children!
They were actually trying to murder the Scooby gang. They were using voo doo as part of their creepy full moon sacrifice.
The zombies were the good guys.
They were trying to warn the gang that the sweet ladies and their army of cats were planning on stealing their souls.
Which makes me realize now, at twenty one years old, that they knew who they were and what had happened to them. OH MY GOD, THIS MOVIE JUST BECAME EVEN MORE DARK.
The zombies were self-aware.
Their skin fell from their bones, they were rotting. Oh my gosh. This is terrible.
Anyways, pausing my mental breakdown to return to the post…
I was not aware that anything could be so creepy or supernatural. You would have thought I’d have been a little more open-minded considering every other Scooby Doo episode or movie at least hinted at the possibility of spooky things, even though they were eventually debunked.
You have to understand that Scooby Doo was like my religion. I lived and breathed this show.
Zombie Island pretty much destroyed everything five year old me had come to know. Things don’t always tie up to a happy end. Monsters could actually exist. The worst thing you can possibly think of could be a red herring. Nightmarish creatures could try to protect you.
My little head exploded with possibilities.
Then I read Harry Potter in first grade and I have never looked back. This has led to a weird sort of internal battle in my head. I am constantly trying to rationalize things with science and facts, but there are things science can’t explain.
I am also religious (surprise, surprise, I don’t actually worship at the alter of Scooby Doo), so having faith that things I don’t understand or can’t explain will eventually reason themselves out is a process I am well versed in.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I was a very cut and dry child. Things were black or white.
Zombie Island pretty much rewrote my world view.
It has made me a better writer. I have an excellent imagination.
It has made me a more empathetic person. I understand that other people have different experiences than I do, there may be things about their life I cannot understand. (I did know that before this movie, I’m just generally more open-minded.)
It has also made me terrified to walk down the hallway in the dark.
P.S. In case you think I’m the only person who went completely crazy over this Straight-To-VHS Scooby Doo movie, let me prove you wrong.
The general consensus was “This was way too scary for kids” or “Is this really a movie about demonic soul sacrificing were-lesbians?”
The answer is yes.