Today, we are lucky to have Jordan Farrell with us for an interview, the writer, director, and animator of his own fan film, Scooby-Doo! The Backstage Rage (you can see more about the film and my review of it here). If you're missing the fan spotlights that I did in September for the 50th anniversary, this interview is sort of in that same format (with some of the same questions). My questions appear in bold, while Jordan's answers are in regular font.
1. How did you originally get into Scooby-Doo?
When I spent a good majority of my childhood in the UK, which I find funny because that's one of two countries to my knowledge, where Scooby-Doo happens to be VERY popular, my family didn't go to the movies a lot, so we had a lot of VHS tapes of old movies, mostly from the 80s and 90s, and I remember one tape being something Scooby-Doo, “Where are You?” to be exact, so much like mostly everyone, my first exposure to the franchise was the show that started it all, after that i got hooked and still am to this day.
2. How did you get into animation and script writing?
Well, for my whole life, I've been obsessed with movies and shows, and I remember watching films like “Gremlins”, “The Dark Crystal”, and “Forrest Gump”, and I realized that I wanted to make movies or write stories. When it comes to animation, I'm very fond of 2D animation, anime, and stop-motion animation. The one animated film that got me wanting to make animation my career was “Castle in the Sky” by Studio Ghibli and the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki. That also helped me form my own personal values of storytelling and animation.
3. Do you have a favorite episode and film of Scooby? Why are those your favorites?
It solely depends on the era, obviously my #1 favorite Scooby film is “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island”, it’s dark, memorable, the characters are expanded upon very well, great villains, amazing and memorable soundtrack, the animation by Mook is breathtaking and I am surprised that film never got a theatrical release at its time. I also have other favorites such as “Witch’s Ghost”, “Alien Invaders”, “Moon Monster Madness”, “Samurai Sword”, “Abracadabra-Doo”, and “Camp Scare”, and I have the same reasons for those like I have with “Zombie Island”, another thing is that those films done something bold, new, unique, refreshing and game-changing for the franchise in my opinion, those are the type of Scooby films that always attract me the most.
As for a favorite episode, for “Where are You?” it’s “Scooby-Doo and A Mummy Too”, that episode scared me the most, especially the white dots on the mummy’s eyes and the way the mummy ran, I was also in a phase where I was into “The Mummy” trilogy starring Brenden Frasher, I would also love the do a modern adaptation of that episode one day. Other favorites from other shows, “What’s New”, “Toy Scary Boo”, I enjoy the whole size doesn't matter element and evil dolls/toys have always been a particular aspect of horror that I enjoy and I will say that episode kinda influenced my film in some shape or form.
4. What was the process behind writing this film?
It was around the time when I finished my 2nd live action short, that I wanted to make another film and after many failed attempts, I had gotten my Adobe programs at the time, and a tablet and one day, I put on Scooby-Doo for some kids I was babysitting and then the idea hit. I immediately started writing the film back in early March 2018 and finished the script in May 2018. During that period, I had already cast my Scooby gang and announced the film on Facebook in April 2018 and launched a page that same day. I sketched, inked, colored, and animated and did the mouth movement all by myself all on Adobe Photoshop. My friends, Johnathon Romero, Sandra Sands, and Thomas Byrd who voiced Fred, Velma, and Mr. Pietro were also producers on the film as well. When it came to casting my very special cameos, I just simply messaged ToonGrin, Dr. Wolfula, and That Long-Haired Creepy Guy if they wanted to provide a cameo for the film and they said yes. When it came to voice acting, it started around July 2018, two months after animation production had begun. We started with the voice of Scooby, Jacob Gomez and he was a lot of fun to work with, Harrison Garcia was my first choice as Shaggy and immediately got the part and he was excellent to work with. The rest took around a few months to a year to get voice work done. I worked on this whole movie on a laptop on a kitchen table. Otherwise, it was a fun and unique learning experience.
5. Do you have a favorite character to write for? Why?
Well, for main characters/established characters, Shaggy has always been my favorite character in the entire franchise, so when it came to approaching this film as a Shaggy-centered film, I did not hesitate to flesh him out as much as I could, I wanted to make this somewhat of a character study for shaggy and also exploring a lot of his past and exploring what caused his major anxiety, and that’s where I made the choice to give the villain a more deeper connection to shaggy’s past. As for minor characters to write for, I quite enjoyed writing Fred and The Ghost Girl, one was giving something new for Fred and found it refreshing to make him the comedic relief this time around, The Ghost Girl was a new original character I created for this film and I loved the way I approached it which I think helps give this film a more deeper and artistic experience.
6. If you could work on any show or movie in the world, what would it be?
That could imply to any show/movie I'm into at the moment, but I would love to show run my own official line-up of Scooby films and a show also. Anything from Cartoon Network also. I would love to make a movie on Gremlins, The Mummy, or Karate Kid.
7. Do you have a favorite villain and why?
The Black Samurai from “Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword”, he’s got an excellent detailed backstory for a Scooby villain, the fact that this guy used to be a noble and heroic person is what stood out to me the most, and that his very own apprentice betrayed him and caused something into the sword he created and transformed him into a dark and sinister force of evil, and his design is so cool and unique and the way the film ends his character was both satisfying and bold at the same time for me, I also love the film’s unique mythology at the same time.
8. In your opinion, what is the best series (or era) of Scooby-Doo?
Well, I could easily say the original “Where are You?” series, but personally I would say “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”, it has a cool ongoing storyline, excellent character development, a much darker tone, and the animation is amazing and great music as well, it feels as if everything the franchise has built up to, and the series helped reinvigorate the franchise more and more of my casual friends who weren't into Scooby-Doo tell me that they love the show, and my film does borrow heavily from that aspect.
9. What was your favorite part of the movie to write?
Besides Shaggy’s character arc, I think I liked that I was retelling an old Scooby story and doing my own reboot continuity at the same time, the fact that I call my Scooby gang, “The Mystery Five”, which is a reference to what the show was originally going to be called, and the fact that I have it take place at a time where they have only been solving mysteries for half a year at this point. I liked putting my own vibe and tone for it and giving the characters new aspects of their personality. My favorite aspect of writing the film was combining all the 50 years of the franchise and meshing it into a new timeline that I created. I like the call it either the “Grim” timeline or the “Mystery Five” timeline, or the “New Coolsville” timeline.
10. What was the most difficult part of making the movie?
Mainly the time/scheduling issues when trying to get actors to come over/send their lines in, it took us around 8 months to get all of Daphne’s lines, also, I went through 2 laptops, one I had to get rid of, and the 2nd I currently have. Also, there was a lot of figuring out certain aspects of the film that worked and wind up not working. But other than that, it was a long but rewarding process.
11. At the beginning of the film, it says that the film is inspired by the works of John Carpenter. For those not familiar with him, how was this film inspired by his work?
Well, John Carpenter is a well known filmmaker in the horror community and film buffs alike, he’s known as the creator of the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Escape from New York, The Fog, etc. We mainly used elements from the first Halloween film and The Fog, mostly in tone and atmosphere, in the nightmare sequence with Shaggy, he looks out his window to see The Puppet Phantom hiding in between sheets hung outside, staring and Shaggy, he then turns back to the window only to see him gone. The shot is a direct nod to the scene where Jamie Lee-Curtis does the same thing and looks out the window to see Michael Myers. Another shot is where a fog grows near the end of the film and every time something sinister happens in the film, the colors everywhere would change to a very trippy aspect, that is a nod to the sinister scenes in The Fog. Another reference to Halloween is that the villain’s presence is there but you don't fully see what he looks like until the 2nd half of the film.
12. Though it was a very horror-focused film, your movie had a lot of comedy as well. What was your favorite joke in the film?
I liked writing jokes for Shaggy’s dad, I think it helps flesh out Shaggy’s life outside of mystery solving, and I also liked writing for Fred, it was nice to portray him as the bumbling egotistical leader, especially my first trash can joke as well, I also took inspiration from Stifler and his mom from the film American Pie too basically portray Shaggy’s mom as the major laidback and bubbly woman who Fred had the hots for and loves to rub it into Shaggy's face. I especially enjoyed writing shaggy’s dynamic with Fred as well, as I've always assumed that they have a longer history before they met Daphne and Velma.
13. Besides John Carpenter, were there other specific inspirations that made this film have such a horror movie-like tone?
I looked at a lot of horror movies, mainly ones that took place in the 80s, “Dead Silence” for how the puppets were designed, “Dolls”, and “Puppet Master” for how the puppets behaved, “A Nightmare on Elm St” and “It” for our version of The Puppet Phantom, we looked at more Stephen King works, can't remember which, anything with a kids on bikes approach to it and a small town. The goal was to make this feel like a horror film from the 80s. We also looked at a lot of anime for the more comedic and dramatic moments for characters such as “Clannad” and “Another”.
14. What was your inspiration behind making the Hex Girls such prominent characters in the film?
Well, they are one of my favorite characters from the franchise, and I always remember getting excited whenever they were announced to appear in new Scooby material and the fact that they haven't appeared in anything Scooby-Doo related since “Mystery Incorporated”, and last time I recalled, they were supposed to appear in an episode of “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo”, but don't know what happened. Also the fact that I was turning a 22 minute classic episode into a full length feature film, so that gave me the opportunity to add more characters, and when it came to The Hex Girls, I always liked that they were chill with Shaggy and Scooby a lot, and so when I decided to make them childhood friends, I knew I had something. I looked at a lot of anime and the one cliche that anime has is the childhood friends trope. Thorn I wanted to explore the most especially since she’s the leader and I do have plans in case we get to make a special that focuses on Dusk and Luna. And since I added them in my film, I wanted them to have as much screen time as possible to make it count.
15. What made you redesign Thorn's outfit?
Well, since “Mystery Incorporated” took some creative liberties with The Hex Girls' outfits, I figured why not do that with my versions, I always like redesigning characters in my style while also never abandoning their core aspect. This version of Thorn also has a much different personality than the original does, a goth girl with a cutesy voice, and I wanted the design to reflect that, so I looked at a lot of punk rock and pop music singers from the 80s and borrowed a bit of Madonna’s hairstyle and boosted it up in an over the top anime look, the two hair strings that come out of her head is influenced by the character Nagisa from the series “Clannad”.
16. Why did you decide to make Shaggy and Thorn a couple in the film? Did you previously ship the pairing, or was there some creative thinking behind the inclusion of this pairing?
Well, in my idea for the show, I made the whole Thorn crushing on Shaggy a running gag and I like to imagine this film taking place after the supposed first season, as for them as a couple, they never are officially a couple in my film even by the end, there’s hints of that, but I chose to leave it open for interpretation until we make more Shaggy-centered stories, we do have plans to add Googie, Crystal, and Madelyn in the future in OVA specials to play off an Archie-esque vibe with Shaggy’s arc in my timeline. So, at the moment, they are back as close friends and we’ll see where it goes from there, I never shipped them before, but when it came to creating this new version of Thorn, i thought it was interesting to explore for my universe, I mean the OG Thorn from “Witch’s Ghost”, “Legend of the Vampire”, “Mystery Incorporated”, would never date Shaggy, they are so completely opposite, but this film’s version of Thorn, probably depending on where we go with this saga. There was a lot of creative thinking of making these new versions of the characters as far back as 2015 when I first came up with the idea of doing my own reboot of Scooby-Doo.
17. In one particular scene of the film, a police officer stares at Flim Flam for selling his Lotsa Luck Joy Juice. Is this an implication that Flim Flam's product is some sort of illegal substance?
Nah, we all know that Flim Flam is a con artist and I would say that this version of the character likes to buy/steal a 7-up soda, take the labels off and re-sells them as his own, he’s the troublemaking kid who doesn't get arrested but the cops calls his parents on him, so I like to think that he has a recurring history with them like “here’s that brat that’s selling stuff he doesn't own the rights to”.
18. What made you choose "The Backstage Rage" as your inspiration for making this film?
When it came to picking something to do a remake of, because I've never seen Scooby-Doo retell a story from the past into modern day, so I decided to make my film an adaptation of it, so I had a hard time deciding on what to adapt and then the episode popped on the tv when I had Scooby-Doo on and then the idea hit, the villain and tone was still creepy to this day, there was also this untouched potential it had for a film and I had so many ideas popping in my head, and I knew I had my source of inspiration.
19. What was your creative process behind diving deeper into the Puppet Phantom's backstory? In other words, what made you decide to expand upon the original character?
Well, since this was a feature film that expands on the story of a 20 minute episode, I noticed that The Puppet Phantom didn't have a backstory, like, at all, so I took the opportunity to give him a deep and detailed backstory and especially when I made the choice to [SPOILER ALERT] make the monsters real, and I mean REAL where people do die, I took inspiration from the anime Berserk and Devilman on the friendship that Mr. Pietro had with The Phantom before he transformed. I also looked into a lot of other horror icons like Freddy Krueger and Pennywise for the personality of him and I wanted to make his design to resemble a rusty creepy rotten looking puppet and heavily emphasized his yellow eyes and dark hat and cloak, since those are the stand out aspects of his original design. I wanted this villain to be an extreme disgusting nightmare for the gang, a villain that showed no limits and goes as far as to killing people. I wanted to make this villain even more freaking scary, I wanted him to be HORRIFYING.
20. What do you think has made the franchise so popular that it’s still going strong after 50 years?
The fact that the characters have fun distinct personalities, it appeals to everybody of any age, it always experiments with itself to something bold and new, and it's a group of kids solving mysteries and spooky monsters. I also say the camaraderie with the gang is also what stands out.
21. What direction would you like to see the franchise go in the future?
I would like them to go back to the real monsters approach again, experiment more new aspects of the franchise, take new risks, maybe see an adaptation of the “Scooby Apocalypse” comics, but most certainly I would love to see maybe a remake of an episode or two of some classic Scooby stories into movies like what I did.
22. Do you have any advice for anyone who is looking to go into the world of writing or animating?
Well, allIi have to say is the creative process is a very long road and task, but what will help you is that you need to have a passion for it, you don't just create a 2 and a half hour animation all for nothing, you do it because you LOVE the craft of storytelling and animation, you HAVE TO love these aspects, it’s helped me get through and it will most certainly help you as well, also, read and watch a lot of stuff, even stuff that you may not like, analyze what you watch and read, what makes it good, what makes it bad, what makes it special and form it together and write something, also draw a lot, as much as you can. And most of all, have fun doing it.
23. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Absolutely, we already announced a 2nd film titled “Scooby-Doo! Waters of Atlantis” and that will have a more fantasy adventure vibe with Daphne as the main character, and you can watch the teaser trailer here. You can also follow our Facebook page for future updates and such, and because of my work on my film and gotten me special offers and gigs for other video content. I had the opportunity to voice some characters in an episode of my friend’s webseries “LEGO Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”, which you can watch the whole series on YouTube to catch up to the season 1 finale special “The Vasquez Mystery” which I not only guest-star as myself, but I also designed the logo for the episode and drew a poster for the special. I’m also a producer on the fan film “Saga of the Swamp Thing”, which is made by my friend who helped out on my film. I also got some original films of my own coming that aren't fan films coming soon as well, and I got an original romance slice of life webcomic series coming soon also. Thank you for your time and for having me here today and be sure to rewatch my film again in the meantime while all of this is coming soon.
Thanks so much to Jordan for taking the time to answer all my questions, and be sure to check out his new fan film, Scooby-Doo! The Backstage Rage here.
A while ago, I mentioned on the blog that Jordan Farrell was in the process of making a Scooby-Doo fan film entitled "Scooby-Doo! The Backstage Rage." That film has now been released, and can be watched here! The film is sort of like a Scooby fanfiction story, which is based on the original "The Backstage Rage" episode from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (with many scenes paralleling the original episode), except in stop-motion animation form. The stop-motion animation element of this film reminds me a lot of those old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials, for those that remember them. The rest of this post is an essentially spoiler-free review of this fan film.
Firstly, it should be said that the film does a great job with the horror aspect! The film is rated PG-13, and definitely earns that rating by having almost a sinister vibe at times. The Puppet Master is truly an evil villain who has the intent of turning his victims into puppets. The music that's played whenever he comes out of the shadows is super creepy, and I'll admit surprised me a couple of times when it was played after a dead silence! The Puppet Master has a very larger than life presence throughout the entire film, which really made it feel like a horror film.
The comedy was also really good! The film's humor was definitely more quirky in places, and I really liked that! The random sound effects at points particularly made me laugh, such as the "KO!" sound effect played when Shaggy knocks Fred out with the trash can, and my favorite, the part where Velma gets hit by the sandbag and a voice saying "That was intense bruh!" is played lol. And speaking of "bruh," I quite enjoyed Officer John saying "man" and "bruh" all the time, just as it's so uncharacteristic of a police officer.
I think my favorite piece of comedy though was with Shaggy's dad at getting caught by the cops at his weed booth at the Peace and Love Convention, and saying "Zoinks, it's the fuzz!" and getting thrown in jail. I would have liked to see more of that storyline, that was really funny! Though Flim Flam giving Shaggy a Customer Suspension Card ("for being a complete douche") was a close second haha. Also, one question the film posed was is Lotsa Luck Joy Juice supposed to be some kind of drug? There's one scene where the cops stare Flim Flam down at his booth, and he just stares nervously which made me wonder.
Oh, and I have to mention my one other favorite joke, the culprit (I won't ruin it by saying the name) exclaiming "I'm free!" and then the cop saying "And now you're under arrest!" Perfect irony there lol.
Character-wise, I thought all the characters were really good! In particular, Shaggy's voice actor really did an amazing job in the role. One criticism I had with the characters though is the dialogue. At times, the dialogue seemed a bit stilted. One example that happens a couple times is that a character will speak, and then there will be a delay before the next character says something, which makes it seem off. Also, I felt a few of the lines were delivered a bit awkwardly sometimes, which makes them a bit comedic where I don't think they were supposed to be. Three of my favorite examples (with all respect to Jordan and the creators, I just found the awkwardness a bit amusing): "You've gotta be crappin' me, man!", "So...how's our date going for you tonight? We've been together two years now after all." and "Oh, by the way, do you want to marry me?
I liked the addition of the Hex Girls quite a bit, and it was fun to have Thorn be a main part of the storyline (in multiple ways). I really liked her voice actor! Thorn and Shaggy being a couple was cute, I definitely ship it! Thorn hitting on Shaggy sort of reminded me of Sally and Linus from Peanuts. Speaking of which, I thought the characters' faces being colored red with embarrassment looked pretty similar to how it is in the Peanuts specials, which is cool! The characters' faces when angry also reminded me of Peanuts a bit. The cougar sound effect whenever someone got angry was very quirky, but cool! I really dug it haha.
I also thought the animation was really good considering it was all hand-drawn (I'm presuming). I know a common argument against the series Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! is that the designs are bad, and I unfortunately could see people saying that about this film too. However, if you let yourself get past the fact that it doesn't look anything like normal animation, I think you'll find it's a pretty fun watch. And also, kudos to whoever did the drawing for this film, as nearly 3 hours is a lot of animating to do!
Lastly, what I thought the film did a really good job of is references to old Scooby material. There are references galore in this film, so many in fact that a couple of the characters mentioned in the credits were ones I didn't even notice. You can definitely tell the effort put in to make some cool references. And speaking of references, I thought the writing of the film plot-wise was really brilliant in how it used aspects of the original "The Backstage Rage" episode to shape this plot. The doorman being a puppet being turned into the Puppet Master turning people into puppets was a really cool reimagining of this.
Overall, I think this was a really fun watch and would definitely recommend giving it a try. Don't be turned off by the stop motion animation being different than what you're used to, because there is a lot of cool content here and a really good plot. Kudos to Jordan Farrell and everyone involved in making this film! And thanks so much to him for putting the site's name in the credits, twice! That was super sweet and I really appreciate it.
A lot of people remember shows like Josie and the Pussycats, Goober and the Ghost Chasers and the Funky Phantom as "Scooby Clones" because they followed the same man-in-a-mask, mystery-solving format that the classic cartoon canine did.
However, few people remember those years in the late 70s and early 80s where the Flintstones copied this same formula.
The very first time The Flintstones experimented with a spookier format was around Halloween in 1964, before Scooby began. There was a three episode stretch from the weeks of October 29 - November 12, 1964, in which Fred and Barney got involved in "spooky" encounters; the first of which being the episode "A Haunted House is Not a Home," in which Fred inherits a haunted house from his deceased uncle, and Barney and him spend the night. The second episode, "Dr. Sinister," is a parody of James Bond (Jay Bondrock, as he's called in the episode) where Fred and Barney are kidnapped by Dr. Sinister and his monster guards who are looking to destroy the world. This is sort of a monster mashup with James Bond, and the guards are never called monsters, but all of them (along with Dr. Sinister) are green.
The third episode would later become very influential into the main topic of this article. Simply titled "The Gruesomes," the third and final episode of that 1964 run was a parody of the Addams Family, which had just begun a few months ago. The episode involves The Gruesome Family moving next to the Flintstones, who are a very odd family with a house full of monsters. One of the best lines from that episode is the neighbor introducing himself "Hi, I'm Weirdly!", to which Fred replies "I was just about to say that!" Still makes me chuckle to this day.
After this three episode run, the Flintstones ditched this spooky element and went back to its traditional formula. The Gruesome Family does appear in one other episode of the original series, entitled "The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes," but they are merely used briefly in the episode for exposition purposes and the episode does not have the same spooky vibe. They also would appear in the 1972 spinoff show "The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show" for one episode, though the wife, Creepella, was completely redesigned and was voiced by someone who made her sound like more of a socialite than a monster, which was unfortunate. They may have been going for a Morticia-like voice here from the Addams Family.
You could also include "Monster Fred" in this "spooky" themed run of episodes, which aired five weeks before three episodes began to, though it had more to do with mad science so it's always been in its own separate category to me.
In 1979, The Flintstones spin-off show The New Fred & Barney Show rebranded the series a bit, which can be summed up by the line in the intro "full of lots and fun and mystery!" Yep, that's right, The Flintstones solve mysteries in this series...well, sort of! Out of the 17 episodes in the series, five had to do with monsters or mysteries. The first episode of the series, "Sand Witch" involves Fred and Barney's car breaking down in a haunted forest while about to go bowling, and they run into a witch who eats humans. There wasn't really much mystery to speak of, and it's more of a comedy romp in the vein of some of the Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Show shorts. The second episode "Haunted Inheritance" was sort of a crappy remake of "A Haunted House is Not a Home" (the episode mentioned above from 1964), in which Fred and Barney inherit a haunted house but are in competition this time with some other people. There are no ghosts to speak of until the last few minutes of the episode. The only ghost that appears in the last few minutes of episode is very obviously fake, I think it's just some cheesy guy with a sheet over his head or something.
During the next few episodes, the formula changed a bit and they switched back to more classic adventures. In episode 6, "Blood Brothers," a new neighbor named Rockula (a parody of Dracula) moves to town and wants to become "blood brothers" with Fred, who suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. The episode was much more whimsical, illustrated by the fact that Rockula's wife is named "Poopsie." Another break was taken from this formula for the next 4 episodes of The New Fred and Barney Show.
Episode 11, "Stoneage Werewolf," returns to this spooky formula and is one of my favorite episodes of The Flintstones. The mystery and plotline itself is very detailed and cool, but you can tell some liberties are taken with the dialogue in some places. Some lines are a bit forced and goofy, like characters talking to themselves in order to build exposition. Content-wise, this episode features Fred and Barney going on a fishing trip, but end up having to retreat on a nearby island after a thunderstorm begins. Fred and Barney stay in the island's only house, owned by a kindly man who happens to be a werewolf. They don't realize this however, which makes for some spooky fun. There's also the amusing scene in this episode where the Hanna-Barbera background painters messed up and accidentally painted a whole scene as nighttime, but then, after the commercial break, this scene which was supposed to take place at the same time turned into day for no apparent reason. Oh, how I love those sorts of animation errors haha.
The twelfth and final episode of the series to feature a "spooky" vibe is called "Fred & Barney Meet the Frankenstones." The episode involves an overworked Fred and Barney touring a condorstonium (condominium) run by Frank and Hidea Frankenstone. There are odd things like a body-building machine that builds real monsters, and Atrocia, the Frankenstones' daughter whose only dialogue is cackling for a few seconds, then speaking unintelligible gibberish and cackling again. Not sure why the writers found this so funny, but this "joke" is repeated at least 10 times throughout the episode. This episode is all over the place, but there is some really creepy stuff in this episode, like Hidea's gigantic eyes!!! (pictured above)
This opened up the doors to "The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone," an hour-long television film in 1979 which featured the Flintstones winning an all-expense paid trip to Rockula's castle for the night. There is no continuity in this film to the previous Rockula episode, and Count Rockula is played up as a sinister Dracula-esque figure of legend, rather than a random vampire. The movie, which is my favorite Flintstones film of all time, has Fred, Wilma, Betty and Barney going to Rockula's castle unsuspecting that Rockula has awoken from his 500 year sleep along with Frankenstone. Rockula believes that Wilma is his long-lost bride, and tries to reclaim her while killing off Fred. Even if a lot of it is just a monster chase, it's still really enjoyable and I always try to watch it every Halloween. Frankenstone also has a different, deeper voice than he did in the previous episode, but the design is kept (as well as for Rockula). Frankenstone would later get back his original voice actor.
The 1980s would continue with this formula, and really latched onto the Frankenstones. The 1980 special, The Flintstones' New Neighbors once again lacks some continuity and has the Frankenstones move to town again. It's the same basic plot as "Fred & Barney Meet the Frankenstones" but this time, they move next door to The Flintstones in a spooky house which parallels that of "The Gruesomes" from 1964. Frank Frankenstone gets his original voice actor back, and has two kids with different names than the first time (they were named Atrocia and Creepy in the original episode). This time, they are named Frankenstub/Stubby and Hidea, the latter of which is originally the wife's name. Frank's wife was renamed Oblivia, and has a different voice. Oblivia has a different voice actor than the original wife, Hidea, did. I'm honestly not sure which voice I like better. Oblivia's comes off as more down-to-Earth, whereas Hidea's is a bit of an indescribably creepy voice. The new daughter, Hidea, does not have the same odd quirk of giggling and mumbling gibberish, and speaks in full sentences. Frankenstub has the same voice actor as Creepy in the original episode. But to get to the heart of the episode, Fred initially dislikes the Frankenstones and even pulls cruel pranks on them (i.e. putting up a sign that says "This way to the Freak Show!" pointing to their house), but they end up having to work together when Pebbles falls into a pterodactyl's nest.
Clearly, they liked this idea, as The Frankenstones would continue to appear in a segment of The Flintstones Comedy Show. The continuity from the New Neighbors special sticks, except for Fred and Frank being friends. In this series, Fred hates Frank Frankenstone once again, and Frank Frankenstone oddly hates him as well. Frank has a new voice actor, who IMO is pretty bad and just sounds like an angry guy rather than a creepy monster as he was intended to be. Frankenstub was written out in favor of a new "normal" son (similar to Marilyn in The Munsters), who Pebbles becomes friends with much to Fred's annoyance. Pebbles is also an adult now, despite the fact that she was a child when they moved here in the New Neighbors special.
In another segment not involving the Frankenstones in this same series, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm actually solve mysteries with the man-in-a-mask format! Admittedly, I've only seen two of these episodes, one called "Ghost Sitters" where they solve the mystery of a ghost cowboy, and another called "Monster Madness" which I vaguely remember had something to do with a baseball going into a haunted house with various monsters. Someday I may have to treat myself and pay for a month of the Boomerang streaming service, as all the episodes are on there.
Anyways, that was it for this article. I always thought it was interesting how such an acclaimed show like The Flintstones found the need to copy Scooby, but nonetheless it made those episodes interesting for me to watch as a devoted Scooby fan.
For those that say a Scooby-Doo type gang of mystery solving kids could never happen in real life, think again.
In Roseville, CA last Sunday, September 30, a 97 year old woman went missing, and the local police announced the missing person case over social media and loudspeakers around the town.
Just when the situation seemed hopeless, four kids that were 10 and 11 decided to take it upon themselves to search for the missing woman. Pictured above, these kids (from left to right) are Makenna Rogers (age 10), Hope Claiborne (age 11), Kashton Claiborne (age 11), and Logan Hultman (age 10).
Hopping on their bikes, the kids spent over two hours looking for this missing woman. Suddenly, they locate her and immediately call 911 to report their find, and wait with her to make sure the first responders are able to safely bring the frazzled old lady back to her home.
Back home, they have a mini-party with goldfish crackers to celebrate their heroic act.
You can read the full story on CNN. Thanks so much to Greybishop for sending me this story!
Here are the results from last week's poll, which asked what people's favorite era of Scooby-Doo films were.
Live action films: 4
LEGO films: 0
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week's poll!
I'm happy to say I have one final surprise for you guys for Scooby's anniversary month! After five years of having the same logo, I've finally created a new logo for the site which can be seen above. Thanks so much to Scoob16, who created this logo for the site! This is replacing the old logo, which can be seen below:
Given it's the end of the month, this was the last poll that I had planned. However, if you're enjoying these and would like to see the Sunday Polls continue, let me know in the comments!
As for the results for last week's poll about the scariest of the 13 ghosts, it appears we have a tie!
Zomba - 8
Maldor, the Malevolent - 8
Marcella - 4
Zimbulu - 3
Time Slime - 3
Professor Phantasmo - 2
Queen Morbidia - 2
Ghost of Captain Ferguson - 1
Demondo - 1
Shadow Demon - 0
Mirror Demon - 0
Nicara - 0
Rankor - 0
For the 50th anniversary of the franchise, I've recently been rewatching The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. Now that I've watched these episodes numerous times, it caused me to view the show from a more critical perspective. Taking it even a step further, I'd argue The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo could have been the perfect mature Scooby show some of us have been hoping for.
I'm sure this idea sounds crazy, so I want to give my reasoning behind this. Honestly, I don't think 13 Ghosts knew what it wanted to be. We get some creepy horror scenes and frightening villains (the Shadow Demon pictured above is one of my favorite Scooby villains ever!), but we also get cheesy sing-a-longs and jokes like Shaggy microwaving his popcorn at 8 million degrees.
Scooby had always previously been a very comedy-driven show, especially in the recent days (at the time) when we had just come out of those 7-minute comedy romp shorts. I don't think the writers quite knew what to do when a horror show was pitched to them. Given this, we get these zany comedy scenes mixed in with some legitimate supernatural premises.
I think this (and Scrappy and Flim Flam) caused people to be turned off by the show. They discounted the show's capabilities when they saw it was the same comedy (even a bit zanier than some of 7 minute shorts) as in the preceding Scrappy. I think most of these episodes have the foundation to be legitimately frightening and more mature, without all the quirky comedy mixed in.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to rant about 13 Ghosts, or saying it's crap, or anything to that degree. I'm just trying to analyze how the show could have been better and more horror-focused.
People definitely think of the show was more horror-focused, but in many places, it's really not. People are misremembering the more frightening scenes as being the only thing there, when we have very zany main character interactions and jokes tossed in.
How do we unpack all of this, and hypothetically, how could The 13 Ghosts be that creepy, supernatural show focusing on a serious occult threat of 13 of the most terrifying ghosts being released?
I already talked about removing the comedy, and I think this means removing Flim Flam and Scrappy. For those that love those characters, I apologize, and Scrappy definitely had his charm in this series. But these are the two characters who are consistently there for the purposes of comedy, and 90%+ percent of their lines are around making some sort of joke, or making the situation lighter. I think, for a horror-focused show, these two characters don't really fit unfortunately. Or, they would need to have a drastic change of personality.
Next, I'd like to analyze each episode from a critical horror perspective, and talk about what worked and what didn't.
To All The Ghouls I've Loved Before really worked as a premiere for a horror show, I think. It had some genuinely spooky stuff going on, between the curse the demons placed on the town where they turn into werewolves, to the creepy temple and Bogel and Weerd trying to trick the gang into opening the chest. Of course, there were a few minor comedy gags here that could be cut, but I think maybe just slightly amping up the intensity of this episode could make it into the perfect premiere!
Fright factor: 9/10
Scoobra Kadoobra had a good foundation, but didn't quite cut it when it came to making it creepy. Maldor was an awesomely designed ghost especially with the horns coming straight through his head (as you can see in the picture above) and the fact that he has no face is super spooky!
In execution, the episode really did pretty terribly. The comedy routines undermined the episode in every way. The cut away gag cause the episode to instantly become less spooky, the whole dragon thing doesn't work, and neither do the rat guards. Maldor also comes off as less spooky than he should, which by his appearance should be a larger-than-life, maniacally evil personality. Instead, we get him saying things like "Good doggy!" and making kissing noises when he wants the wand, and "Welcome to my slumber party!" which just seem like lame lines for such a supposedly malevolent character. The fact that he seems to forget who the gang is also wrecks the spook factor. At the beginning of the episode, his face appears in the van and taunts the gang to come and get him, which is pretty dang frightening. Then, a scene later, Scooby and Shaggy are eating lunch in the forest, and Maldor exclaims "There are mortals in my forest!" or something like that with surprise, which completely wrecks the spookiness of that scene.
I think this episode would have been better if we focused more on how Maldor took over the forest, then immediately putting Daphne under the "Sleep of the Centuries" spell, Scooby finding the Wonder Wand, and him chasing Scooby with some more horror-focused extensions on these scenes. In my opinion, we don't need any of the dragon bits, Scrappy and Flim Flam acting as lawyers, or Flim Flam tricking the rat guards. The only villains I think we really need are Maldor, who should be more of a smouldering, huge presence, and maybe some of the monster trees.
Fright factor: Maldor is a genuinely cool villain, and this episode is one of my favorites so I hate to do this. But, I'm going to rate it a 5/10. It has potential, but it was completely ruined by the overuse of comedy and of course the stupid singalong.
The villain in Me and My Shadow Demon has immense potential, and the way that the villain is used is amazing...until a point. The villain that I'm talking about is not, in fact, Queen Morbidia, but the Shadow Demon. The Shadow Demon (pictured above) is one of the coolest, creepiest looking villains in Scooby-Doo, and could have been THE best of the 13 ghosts. However, he was entirely wasted when it's said to just be "some guy's shadow," so they could use Morbidia instead. Morbidia is a pretty cool looking ghost, but she pales in comparison to the Shadow Demon. I wish they would have used Morbidia in a different episode as the stand-alone villain, and left the Shadow Demon to be the star of this one.
The sing-a-longs absolutely sucked, and "Goodnight Ghoulies" almost felt like I was being talked down to. The way the mine scene works out, to me, is a bit iffy. I think it would have been better if they just started out at Befuddle Hall, gotten trapped down in the basement maze somehow after wandering the house for a while, and they saw the Shadow Demon everywhere. Or like the shadows the gang casted could morph into the demon, making the gang believe they couldn't escape the Shadow Demon. Or maybe the Shadow Demon could have the power to stretch like a shadow, or something creepy like that. That would be a genuinely frightening scenario. Instead, we get Morbidia and a bunch of random monsters, a giant bug, plus a crappy sing-a-long ending. It just doesn't really work with the horror angle. I think Morbidia would be a good villain for another episode, but she pales in comparison to the Shadow Demon in this episode.
Fright factor: 7/10. Morbidia was a good villain, but the sing-a-longs and bad jokes is what bring this down for me. The Shadow Demon was also clearly the superior choice here, and they just waste him with a lame explanation that doesn't really make much sense.
Reflections in a Ghoulish Eye is a pretty cool title, but the episode itself is very average except for the last 4 or 5 minutes. I think the Mirror Demon was played up as too weak. This demon which is one of the 13 most powerful on the face of the Earth is trapped within a bedroom mirror, and has to be carried around for the first 15 minutes of the episode by Bogel and Weerd. It makes him seem like a not very powerful demon...that is, until the last five minutes, where he actually traps the gang in the mirror world. Now that was super cool, and very frightening! I think if we honed in on those five minutes of the episode and developed that more, it would be a perfect episode!
There's too much filler in this episode otherwise, and we don't need any of the convention narrative or songs about "Giving 'Em The Old Flim Flam." As an alternate idea, the Mirror Demon have the power to occupy every mirror, but he can't enter reality without someone getting close enough to the mirror. I think that would be a cool premise, and wouldn't make him seem as weak as being trapped in someone's bedroom mirror.
Fright factor: I'm going to be rough on this one and give it a 2.5/10, to represent the 25% of the episode we were in that cool mirror world. The rest of the episode just isn't scary, at all.
That's Monstertainment! gets us on the right path. This is the closest of any episode other the premiere so far, in my opinion, to be genuinely frightening and have a ton of potential that was used. Being trapped in the TV is pretty scary, and I love that the gang is actually innocently watching a horror host not realizing she was one of the 13 ghosts. Zomba also has the creepiest design of any of the 13 ghosts, hands down. I was actually a bit freaked out by her as a kid, with her bug eyes and strange-looking figure. There are a few things which sort of make this episode a little bit less scary.
First, the silly scenes of the gang acting in the movie make it feel a little less scary. The scene where Zomba is trying to find the demon chest seems like it's played up for comedy, but I don't think it should have been. In the rest of the episode, she's pretty scary and that comedy bit is a little confusing. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel like the very first part during Van Ghoul's monologue should have had the scenery be darker. It's colored strangely, and it makes it just seem like it's dusk, whereas if it's 2am it should be pitch black and that would amp up the scariness. I realize that last one is a very nitpicky criticism, but I think the horror parts we do get in this episode are sooo amazing that I want it to be perfect haha.
But enough about what wasn't good, let's talk about the amazing parts of this episode! As I said, the beginning scene where they're sucked in is great, Zomba zapping into the movie with such ease was terrifying, the part in the dungeon where she's holding a torch and searching for Shaggy and Scooby, where they're in this remote isolated room, is super creepy! As is her trapping them at the end on the windmill. The horror movie really gets the fright factor going as well.
One comment on her design, which is already near-perfect, is one animation glitch when she's at the top of the stairs and she looks even creepier, ironically. She looks almost deformed and demonic in that scene, and it's sooo cool. I wish they would have stayed more consistent with her design, as she's a bit all over the place. Her body is pretty similar other than that one glitch, but sometimes her face is drawn to look less creepy. I also think Zomba was powerful enough on her own, and the Frankenscoob Monster wasn't really needed here. It made her feel a little less scary when the monster was clearly more powerful than her.
Fright factor: 9 / 10. I think this is the closest we get to true creepiness in the show, and the 1 point I took off is for the minor criticisms outlined above. Overall, I think the series would have been a lot better if it would have been more like this one!
Ship of Ghouls has a lot of controversy surrounding whether Captain Ferguson counted as one of the 13 ghosts. Watching the episode again, I'm sort of inclined to believe he's not, even though Curse of the 13th Ghost said he was. This was quite similar to the Mirror Demon episode in the sense that it had great potential from what was there, but it took too long to get there. The first 15 minutes could easily be cut out, in my opinion. It's just Weerd and Bogel chasing Scooby around and him being scared. 15 minutes in, we finally get some genuinely creepy things going on. The gang is trapped on a ship, where all the passengers turn out to be ghosts, and there's literally nowhere to run. Even worse, the chest of demons open and we get this amalgamation of all the demons, which is super cool!
Fright factor: 6/10. I'll give the episode the fact that it did slowly build up to something, and wasn't just pure filler like the Mirror Demon episode was. But it took way too long to get there, sort of wasting the opportunity they had to make a genuinely scary scenario occur until the last minute.
A Spooky Little Ghoul Like You is a pretty fun episode, that I think has some seriously spooky potential. My two complaints about this one, besides the comedy bits, is how Nicara's power is too oddly specific. Why would she be one of the 13 most powerful demons if her powers only work on Friday the 13th? It just seemed like they were trying to cram in a "spooky" reference and it made her seem less powerful. But her powers getting increasingly large throughout the episode, like being able to rise ghouls from the grave is pretty dang terrifying, and makes for a great horror episode. Just maybe intensifying the darkness of the episode and cutting out the comedy bits would do this episode a lot of good! I like how not all of the demons were like deformed or ugly, like this was just a sexy lady demon who was trying to make a warlock fall in love with her to drain their powers.
The ending is a bit lackluster, where it just ends on "oh...it's midnight! Goodnight everyone!" I think the ending of this could have been made stronger. The animation quality also just drops off a cliff for the last 30 seconds, causing us to get some pretty horrifying scenes like this.
Fright factor: I'll give this an 8/10, one point taken away for the comedy bits and another one because her power is too oddly specific and it makes her much less intimidating.
When You Witch Upon a Star features a pretty cool looking witch, who's mad with power, but got trapped in the Zone of Eternal Evil. Everything about this premise is great, except...wait...there's also a bumbling group of Three Stooge witches on the loose? The Brewski Sisters are irritating to watch, and they are purely there for the comedy. The round-the-world trek feels like it goes too fast, and in general, the witches simply aren't funny. The plot with Vincent Van Ghoul and Marcella is what should have been focused on more heavily (with the gang there), as she was super powerful and had a pretty creepy design. But, instead, we get probably like 17 or 18 minutes of the Brewski Sisters, chanting "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah! Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!"
Fright factor: 2/10. If this episode were just Marcella, it would get 9 or 10/10 easily. But the episode almost exclusively focuses on the Brewski Sisters, to the point where we barely even see Marcella and she doesn't know who the gang are. It's disappointing, and I think there was a spark of potential in the plot with Vincent Van Ghoul and her, but it's completely wasted with those other witches.
It's A Wonderful Scoob lives up to its name, and is pretty wonderful. But it's not the best, in some places. The beginning bit with them in the weird time city, and the middle with Scooby's parents and Weerd and Bogel could be cut because it's mainly used for comedy. It does have good potential, though, and I think Scooby being forced to confront his terrifying past is a cool plot. I also thought Marcella looked better in the flashback than she did in the actual episode, lol. It was genuinely a bit saddening and heartfelt to see how bad the world had become with Time Slime free.
I know I've been pretty anti-comedy in this article, but I think Bernie Gumpshure could definitely be worked into this episode still. The horror aspect of this episode is how bad the world has become without Scooby, and Bernie's ineptness could serve as a comedy facet while also showing Scooby how bad his replacement is for the world. The meta-references, however, where Ronald Reagan gives his presidential address for Scooby to come back on the show just don't work at all, and need to be removed for it to be more horror-focused.
Fear factor: 7/10, it's not the most horrifying thing in the world, but it's a cool episode to watch. Time Slime is...an interesting looking villain, but isn't as creepy-looking as some of the past ones. I'd say he's the least creepy of any of the demons we've talked about so far.
Quack, quack, quack, I'm Platypus Duck! If you couldn't tell, we're on Scooby in Kwackyland now and Demondo, and he really isn't scary. This episode features the gang in a comic, and for a horror series, it just doesn't work. It's not scary at all, and all episodes at this point have had at least some fear factor. Honestly, to make this a more horror-focused series, there's really no saving this episode which is literally about comics. I think this would be the place we could fill in Morbidia and give her an episode individually.
Fear factor: 0/10
Does this demon not look pretty creepy? He does to me, but Coast to Ghost really does him no justice. The atmosphere of this episode is cool, but the gang traveling with Weerd and Bogel is too comedy-driven, and Rankor is a bumbling idiot in most of this episode. He literally willingly goes in the demon chest, saying "Thanks, you guys are real pals!" and it's just all-out lame. Worst scene I've seen in Scooby-Doo, probably. It's just so disappointing. Also, why is Rankor reporting to SAPS and why is he not in SAPS already? Why does he even want to be in SAPS? He's one of the most powerful demons in the world, it doesn't make sense that he'd be so submissive.
Fear factor: The atmosphere is strongly horror in this one, but it just lacks everything else. 1/10 for the one thing this episode had right.
The Ghouliest Show on Earth was an awesome horror episode. The ghost just looking like a normal person for most of the episode until he turned grotesque at the end (pictured above), the calliope music hypnotizing people into thinking everything was alright was all just perfect! One minor thing I'd say could be fixed, besides amping up the dark tone, is for it not to take place in Dooville. It seems like too much of coincidence that the ghost would go right to Scooby's hometown. Also, did any of us really need to see that guy who's married to a cow? Lol.
Fear factor: 9/10 for the great horror potential.
I'm not really sure what to say about Horror Scope Scoob. It's another TV station episode, and I don't think we particularly needed it with the Zomba episode. This episode sort of feels all over the place, with someone stealing the Demon Chest, Zimbulu going to the cemetery to enlist zombies to help him, it just was all over the place. The only really cool part about this episode was Telluluah turning into Zimbulu, that's a pretty creepy thought to have Zimbulu just possessing a human's body that whole time. But, other than this, the episode was just meh. I was pretty indifferent.
Fear factor: Let's just give it a 2/10 for effort. Nothing about it is really scary, but it wasn't a bad episode either.
So, that about wraps it for this article! I guess I was pretty hard on some of the episodes, but keep in mind that my opinion isn't that the episodes all sucked or were just 22 minutes of complain-worthy material. I was simply attempting to analyze each episode from a horror perspective, though I do enjoy the comedy bits sometimes. I think this series could have a lot of potential as an SDMI-level horror series, if it just took itself more seriously sometimes and wasn't so conflicted on the comedy bits.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and this 4-article series for the 50th anniversary!
For the very last minor mention Wednesday, I'm spotlighting quite possibly my favorite minor character of all time: Bernie Gumsher from "It's a Wonderful Scoob" (13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo). After Scooby quits the gang, Bernie inadvertently replaces him, not intending to show up to the auditions. He wants to go to the Saint Bernard Glee Club instead, and later states that "I think being Scooby-Doo isn't a good career move for me," which is super funny lol. Also, he's so dang cute! How could you not love him? I know it was just a meta-joke with the Reagan scene within the episode, but I'd totally watch The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo with Bernie Gumsher haha.
Note: I included the Shadow Demon in there because he was so dang cool, and basically the main antagonist of one of the episodes.
Last week's results for favorite series out of the last three:
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated - 39
Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! - 20
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? - 15
I must say, I'm a little surprised so many people voted for Guess Who even though it does have the lowest votes. I thought it was a cool question that kind of displayed what people wanted in a Scooby series: the darker, edgy side of the franchise, the more comedic-driven side of the show, or nostalgia.