Note: This piece was originally created and published as part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur with this month’s theme being Favorite Zombie films, as chosen by Darren of Movie Reviews 101.
When you think of cartoons, especially classic children’s cartoons, the ones you watched on Saturday mornings, you don’t think of many frights. Those didn’t seem to exist, but perhaps I missed those. For a spell cartoons weren’t big in the house. But there are some that stand out and any iteration or new adventure (film in this case), is worth getting excited about and watching again and again, even as they age.
The Warner Bros. film “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island” is enjoyable enough as it ever was, but suffers a tiny bit from now being 20 years old. 20? Wait, What?! How?! How did I miss this until just now? Well, I did. Now I know, so it makes this even more exciting.
Well, exciting is one word to use. Another is sad. Sad, because, as you’ll see here shortly, it’s not exactly helpful. I was so excited when this topic (zombies) came up for MovieRob’s ongoing monthly event, that I couldn’t not pick this film! I hadn’t seen it in a long, long time (seriously can’t tell you how long), and for the last few years I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to watch it. Then this month and Halloween itself come and go, and I’ve still not seen it. So, here we are and I’ve finally followed through. I just wish everything I had to say was positive.
Here Kitty Kitty
Okay, it’s not all bad news, or even bad news at all, depending on who you ask. It’s more just surprising. But, seeing as that’s one of the reasons why I do this, it’s bound to happen. It’s just a little unfortunate that it had to be this film.
So, as one would expect, it’s fun, slightly (very slightly, especially if you’re not under 10 years old) scary, funny and features the kind of shenanigans you expect Shaggy and Scooby and company to get into. I mean, who doesn’t love hearing the theme song? There’s an okay level of creepy and atmosphere included too, which helps elevate the film and make it more fun than it probably should be, especially two decades later. So, amazingly, I enjoyed myself and could laugh and have a pretty good time with what was going on.
But it really comes down to, why? Well, that’s easy to figure out, I guess. It’s because of the premise itself. It’s pretty great! Zombies and cat creatures! Ghosts leaving warning signs! Monsters not turning out to be men in masks. And, it’s organic and allows for classic, well known characters to actually show growth, if only for a little bit. Coming back together after some time apart, as part of a news segment, is quite brilliant. It makes things, surprisingly practical. Almost real, which makes sense given that this time, as the tag line says, the monsters are real.
However, and this is where I’m torn a bit, while I enjoyed myself the majority of the time, I did find myself slightly losing interest. By that, I mean I wasn’t watching every moment. I wasn’t trying to read a book or some sort of lengthy New York Times piece, but I was doing something else, while still listening to familiar things going on. Things I remembered from years and years ago. I definitely don’t believe it’s because the film bored me, and it wasn’t because it was too long. No, I point the finger squarely at age. It is 20 after all. And it’s a children’s film. The delight, the true fun, while able to be seen and mostly enjoyed, is largely lost on me. It’s old and I’m not even close to being one of the target audience members. I can suspend my disbelief, or something like that, only so much. So, it just couldn’t fully keep my interest like it once could or would’ve if it hadn’t been a children’s film. The scares aren’t scary and there’s no true level of fear to be had. I guess it’ll just be a reminder of funner times from long ago.
However, that’s not to say that there isn’t something to still get from it. It makes, like with “Hocus Pocus”, which is older, a fun nostalgic throwback film to watch and get into the holiday spirit! For me, I no longer have the luxury or simple ease with which to set up and watch all of my favorite Halloween themed or scary movies in my collection, so truly getting into the Halloween spirit is tough. Seeing as this was really my first foray into that this year, I’ll take it! It’s almost like dipping ones toe into the water and testing its temperature first. I chose to take my time in getting into full Halloween mode, and I think it’ll be was worth it!
Oh! Also, if you have younger siblings, nephews or nieces, cousins or young children of your own, or, dare I say, are babysitting, this could easily be a good film to put on and enjoy during the month of October. Halloween too. There’s no such thing as a limit to the number of times one can see this film in a month.
Originally Released: Sept. 22, 1998
Director: Jim Stenstrum
Writers: Glenn Leopold
Voice Cast: Scott Innes, Billy West, Mary Kay Bergman, Frank Welker, B.J Ward, Adrienne Barbeau, Tara Charendoff, Cam Clarke, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Leigh Warren and Ed Gilbert