The headless horseman of Halloween

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1976

So the gang are at a Halloween party being given by their friend Beth and her aunt. They are related to Ichabod Crane so of course this leads to the headless horseman showing up and crashing their party, saying he wants a head and scaring everyone out except the gang and the people that leave there. Oh and Scooby’s cousin Scooby Dum is in this one whether you like it or not. So it’s clue hunting time again. The horseman almost gets Mrs. Crane. Not long after grumpy cousin Elwood says it’s her necklace that the horseman is after because ever since she has been wearing it the horseman has been coming around-talk about a curse object. He offers to take it to the bank for her and she agrees so he calls the bank to arrange the drop off and prepares to leave. He drives off into the fog and then the horseman comes riding back towards the gang and he now has Elwood’s head-oh dear. The gang go to investigate Elwood’s car and find his keys are gone, a small picture of him with glue on the back and a newspaper clipping. They also run into the butler who says he discovered someone had cut down a tree that had fallen on the phone lines. So the smarter members of the gang have an idea what’s going on so they race to the airport where the horseman is in a plane. What the heck? Scooby and Shaggy end up stopping him with their bumbling. There’s no mask pulling this time because it is cousin Elwood. The paper clipping said Elwood’s business had filed for bankruptcy so he stole Mrs. Crane’s necklace after building up the headless horseman angle. He left his car hoping to make it look like he had been taken by the horseman, but by force of habit he took his car keys with him. The gang knew he wasn’t telling the truth about calling the bank because the phone lines were down.

The negatives-Scooby Dum doesn’t add much, but he’s okay.

The positives-It’s Halloween, the gang are in costume at the beginning. The headless horseman is an awesome monster and the mystery is solved down to every detail. Well played.

The creepy case of old Ironface

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1978

So the gang are out enjoying water skiing. Actually Scoob and Shag are doing the skiing and they are quite decent. Then along comes a bunch of sharks being commanded by a metal mask wearing lunatic. Isn’t that always the way it happens,only in the Mystery Inc. world. So the gang heads back to a restaurant where they are to meet Captain Morgan who is to be their tour guide to Skull Island. Mama Leone the restaurant owner tells them the island is haunted by Old Ironface who was an inmate who had a metal mask put on him because he was so mean that no one wanted to look at him. Oh , yeah take that mean face. Captain Morgan does a no show so the gang goes to Skull Island to look for him. They get chased by Ironface again and escape. They find food and eventually find and underground tunnel and Captain Morgan who was kidnapped. Freddie designs a trap and surprisingly it works. Ironface was really Mama Leone who admitted early she was a former champion water skiier. She had been using the metal shark torpedoes to smuggle convicts out to Skull Island to hide out. They were paying her good money and that’s why the food was out there. When she heard that Captain Morgan was working towards making the island a tourist attraction she took on being Ironface to scare people off. Also a federal investigator pops up and says he has been trying to solve this case and thanks the gang for doing his work for him.

The negatives/doesn’t quite fit-The biggest thing is the sharks look metallic from the first second they are shown and I can’t believe that particularly Freddie and Velma wouldn’t have noticed that. Also the disguised federal investigator must have stunk at his job to have been unable to solve the case over a long time while some teenager and a dog do it in a few hours.

The positives-This is one from the late 1970’s so the gang seem a little more organized and the editing on the cartoon is better than in the earlier ones. It was fairly easy to tell who was up to no good but not so much the motive. Even though the sharks were clearly fake the idea of a metal mask wearing madman riding on sharks is a pretty tough idea for a villain.

Mine your own business

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Even Big Ben liked the ascot in 1969.

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I can’t fit through the doorway.

 

1969

The gang get lost and end up in a ghost town-thanks a lot for your rotten map reading skills, Shaggy!. They end up staying the night in the local lodge owned by a big dude named lefty  pinky no-neck Big Ben. He is glad to have anyone there because as helper and short dude Hank tells it a nasty ghost called the Miner Forty Niner has scared everyone else off. Gulp, better hold on tight looks like another mystery. They start looking through the town and Scooby and Shag run into the Miner Forty Niner! Oh, no! They also find a secret entrance to a mine. After some scares and exploring the gang find a speaker, a microphone and some oil. Now it all makes sense or does it? Scoob and Shag imitate a train and scare the Miner almost all the way off a cliff and it turns out it was little Hank wearing stilts to make himself look big. He found oil in the mines and pretended to be the Miner to scare everyone off in the hopes that Big Ben would give up, sell him the land cheap and he’d make a bundle.

The negatives/doesn’t quite fit-This is an early episode and it’s a bit sloppy as you’ll see Velma lose lipstick off he facr, Scooby lose his spots and Freddie shed being covered in flour very quickly. The biggest problems are with Hank as the miner. First is although the stilts explain the long legs they don’t explain why his arms were longer. Also it seems hard to believe that on stilts that Hank could move so fast on rough terrain like he does.

The positives- A classic episode with a memorable villain.

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Holy poop it’s the Miner!

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Holy poop it’s Hank!

Scooby Doo on zombie island

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1998

So the gang have gone their  own ways since their younger days. Daphne works as a TV personality and Fred is her cameraman. They want to find real ghosts and Freddie brings the rest of the gang back in to join the project. They spend lots of time finding dudes in masks and are very disappointed. Then on an island in the south they find a pirate curse, a cat cult, were cats, pirate zombies and food so hot it makes Shaggy and Scooby weak. Since the pirate zombies are the first monsters the gang see they assume they are evil and they did wrong, but they were cursed by the were cat people who are not nice at all. In fact they have a plot to kill the gang once they know too much, but the gang find a way to win survive and set things straight.

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The negatives-Some long time fans didn’t like the idea of the monsters being real. They were wrong, but thought I’d throw that out there.

The positives-This time the monsters are real. That was the line that got me in 1998 when Cartoon Network was advertising for a showing of it on Halloween. At that point the Scooby Franchise had done anything good in like twenty years. Ever since they introduced Scrappy and it was a downwards spiral for there for a once mighty cartoon. This movie brought the gang back, advanced their lives a little and gave them a real mystery to solve. yet it still held many of the elements that made the classic cartoons so wonderful. Great movie and it got these characters back in steady circulation with mostly good results over the last 16 years.

Voices of note- Billy West (Futurama) was on as Shaggy instead of Casey Kasem this time around. As always the legendary Frank Welker was in as Freddie. Of interest to genre fans would be Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Escape from New York) as Simone and Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as Snakebite Scruggs.

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Kicking off Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc. week

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Even though I grew up in the 1970’s I don’t that decade’s cartoons as a whole were as good as the cartoons of the 1960’s. Maybe that’s fitting since Scooby Doo actually began in the fall of 1969. However it’s my choice for best cartoon of the 1970’s. While they borrowed some plots on occasion from Johnny Quest this cartoon managed to create it’s own style by combining action, humor, horror and of course mystery. One of my favorite parts about Scooby Doo was that no matter where they went they managed to find monsters and mysteries. It could be the big city, an isolated beach or their home town but they always found some events that needed to be investigated. They also had likable main characters, catch phrases and the monsters were mostly very cool. This was definitely the top cartoon that I acted out as a kid. It also made me thinking the eyes in paintings were watching me, crooks dressed as monsters and the Mystery Machine was the coolest thing on four wheels. So get set for Scooby-Doo week.

 

 

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Upcoming junk and stuff

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I’ll finish up Hammer films week on Friday with a review of Frankenstein and the monster from hell.  I was going to do a Scooby-Doo week in the fall to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the show, but with the passing of Casey Kasem I’m going to move it up to next week. So I’ll review several classic episodes, put up a list of my top five or so of the movies and have something about my history with watching these characters.