Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
This month, I want to take you somewhere you haven’t been with me before. This month I want to talk about a specific movie - Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Wait, don’t run away yet! I know what you are thinking. I’m not saying it’s a good movie (it’s not even one of the better Scooby-Doo movies), but there is something they get really right in this movie...the monsters.
The cast of the movie is alright. Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred are not casting choices I would have gone with, and don’t really fit with any version of the characters that had appeared in any form. Linda Cardellini, thankfully, wasn’t a bad Velma: slightly different than the one I grew up with, but felt like what you were seeing in the early 2000s animated movies. Matthew Lillard was amazing, and coming from me that is saying a lot. I am so glad that once the late great Casey Kasem had to stop performing the role, they gave it to Lillard. Neil Fanning voiced Scooby-Doo, and Fanning, according to most, was a passable Scooby. But he misses a lot the charm and soul of Scooby, and sadly, this is not a Scooby I like at all, which does make the film much harder to watch. Part of the problem is that they dumbed the humor down, and added a lot of cheap, unfunny “humor.” I may be being picky (most people will tell you I am when it comes to Scooby-Doo) but there is one and only one (sorry Frank Welker, I do love you) voice of Scooby-Doo: the amazing, the talented, my favorite voice actor...Don Messick. The movie’s cast was rounded out by Seth Green, whom I really loved in this, and Peter Boyle as Old Man Wickles who was, as normal, pretty good.
If you did not grow up with Scooby to the obsessive level I did, you may not have known the monsters from this movie are actually from Scooby-Doo stories, and most of them were from Season 3 of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, titled The Scooby Doo Show. If you don’t know what show I am talking about or don’t know if you have seen the opening before, you can check it out here.
Though Scooby Doo, Where Are You? was a hugely popular show and still is, The Scooby Doo Show did not get the same airtime when I was a child, and even though it had been seen as part of the same run, they are not released as part of the same series normally.
Of the eight monsters that appear, they used three iconic monsters from the original series. One of the big monsters they talk about a lot is The Black Knight from "What a Night for a Knight”, who in the original episode was actually Mr. Wickles, and in this version is Old Man Wickles. This was the first thing that really surprised me, as that means they actually kept origin from the series. The episode "What a Night for a Knight” is actually the first episode of Scooby Doo ever aired, and the fact that they gave that honor to such a well-known character was really nice. They also had, in smaller roles, the Miner ‘49er from "Mine Your Own Business", along with the Ghost of Captain Cutler from "A Clue for Scooby-Doo", who was a well-known monster who appeared in the opening credits of the original series.
Now, from the barely-remembered The Scooby Doo Show, they used five monsters; count them, five out of nine monsters came from a show none of my friends remembered. The Pterodactyl Ghost from "Hang in There, Scooby-Doo" who was Johnny Jacobo, and the origin also remained the same for this version. There was also the Tar Monster from “The Tar Monster”, the Skeleton Men from “A Creepy Tangle in the Bermuda Triangle”, the Zombie from "The Ozark Witch Switch", and the 10,000 Volt Ghost from "Watt a Shocking Ghost”, who appeared in the opening of The Scooby Doo Show.
The only other monster was Cotton Candy Glob, which was from the comic Scooby Doo issue 22, “Gloop on the Loose”. It is also worth noting that the monster was defeated in a very similar manner as the Cheese Monster from A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode “Wanted Cheddar Alive”.
I won’t say either of the live action films is great, the studio and the director wanted to make two different films, which caused the films to suffer a lot. But I have to give it to James Gunn, and anyone else who was working on the monster - they pulled out some familiar faces that somehow flew under most people’s radar. As a really big fan of Scooby, it did make me excited to see them on the big screen. The looks were done very well, the moment you see them you know who they are (if you know the episode), and they were more realistic than they were in the original form. I don’t think, if James Gunn had gotten to make the movie he wanted, I would have liked it. But at least somewhere there would be an audience for these movies, instead of being films that most people have tried to completely forget.
Sadly, as nice as having classic monsters back, this was not original; they had used the idea of the monsters they had faced before in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, which was an animated film released a few years before. Being animated, the film got to use a lot more monsters and is probably a better movie, but the classic monsters get even less screen time in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase.
Maybe later I will take you on a journey deeper into the world of Scooby-Doo. Deep into the past, the characters, the multiple TV shows, and movies...but that is for another day.