Friday, July 27, 2007

What’s New Scooby-Doo? – The Vampire Strikes Back – review – TV Episode


Directed by: Unknown

First Aired: 2003

Contains spoilers

You know there were always cartoons that you look back on with fond memories and for me Scooby-Doo was one of them, though like many kids I fell out with them when they introduced Scrappy-Doo into the mix. Recent years have seen a revival with straight to video features, live action films and new series including this one – which thankfully are sans Scrappy-Doo (with one notable and forgivable exception).

the gangThis specific episode was from the second series and features the whole Scooby gang, Fred (Frank Welker), Velma (Mindy Cohn), Daphne (Grey DeLisle), Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and of course Scooby-Doo (also voiced by Frank Welker).

one of the Hex GirlsThe episode starts with the Hex Girls, an all girl pop-Goth band, shooting a video. The band, consisting of Luna (Kimberly Brooks), Dusk (Jane Wieldin) and Thorn (Jeniffer Hale), are recurring characters having been in two of the Scooby-Doo features ("Scooby-Doo and the Witches Ghost" and "Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire"). The shoot is in the Fortescu Castle in Transylvania and is interrupted by a vampire.

Velma as baitThe gang have been invited to watch the shoot and reach the castle, taking out the rickety bridge on route thus cutting escape routes, only to discover that the shoot is plagued by the vampire. The show then cuts knowingly across standard Scooby-Doo formulaic conventions as Fred suggests they set a trap, rather than look for clues, and uses Velma as bait rather than using Shaggy and Scooby. Thus the vampire is caught in the first few minutes.

the vampire returnsAn unmasking, of sorts, follows. I say ‘of sorts’ as the man is wearing makeup rather than a mask. Of course, having just arrived, they do not know who he is but that mystery is solved by Castle owner Owen DeCassle (James Arnold Taylor) who says he is Steve Fortescu (also voiced by Taylor), the son of those who sold the castle to DeCassle. With the bridge out he is placed in a dungeon cell for the night but warns that the real vampire will come.

And come he does but could it be the real vampire or is someone helping Steve escape his cell?

the vampireLore wise we couldn’t expect too much from a short children’s cartoon and what we get seems at odds with standard lore. Garlic is effective, when the vampire trips over a garland! When reading a book on vampires Daphne discovers that they are able to leave their tombs once a year to hunt for their true love – a bizarre lore addition that owes much to the works of Dan Curtis (who fairly much invited the reincarnated love aspect of vampire films).

is Fred now a bat?We also get the vanishing of both one of the Hex girls and Fred, leaving behind only a bat in each case. This leads to the assumption that a vampire can turn someone into a bat, rather than turn into one themselves. This addition was to give an on-running comedy vein where Shaggy and Scooby try to find Fred the bat.

RetchfieldI should also mention that we get a spooky butler type by the name of Retchfield, who keeps a pet bug on a leash. An obvious reference to Dracula and the character Renfield. Plus we see Vlad’s dentists as the kids drive to the castle at the beginning.

All told this seems a fun episode for the kids and yet perhaps it doesn’t have the nuances necessary for an adult audience, but those, like me, who grew up with the show will enjoy the self-effacing references to standard Scooby-Doo plot.

jinkies, a creepy graveyardThe animation is nice and crisp, and fairly bright – again very kid friendly. The voice acting is good enough, though again aimed solely towards children

The story, unfortunately, is curtailed by length, age considerations and music. There is the obligatory song during a chase but we also get the Hex Girls’ song at the beginning and a rendition by them of the Scooby-Doo theme at the end. Good fun for the kids though, if my son’s reaction was anything to go by as we watched it together on Boomerang. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Marvin The Magnificent said...

This is one of my all time favorite movies!

The Hex Girls should have their own show.

Nelson said...

I agree with the guy above me.
This bitch only gave it a 5 out of 10?? fufufufu

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Nelson... I'd really appreciate it if you didn't come on my blog and call me a bitch.

Anonymous said...

i thought that the vampire romance stuff came from Gypsy lore where if the vampire could find love they would gradually become human again but for one day a week or such.

Resulting in the standard folklore of the love lost because the partner peeked in the hidden room story which is found with various 'lover is really a fairy/selkie/dragon' versions.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi battybattybats, thanks for the comment.

reincarnated love is pretty much a Dan Curtis invention as far as I know.

The Slavic gypsys certainly had folklore involving vampires and sex - hence the idea of dhampyre - I'm not sure that I've seen a reference about letting them become human again (there is Slavic lore regarding becoming alive again if they have been out of the grave for x-number of years).

If you have some reference to the lore I'd love you to share it.