Scooby-Doo: An Intro to Horror
"And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"
While watching the 1st trailer for Warner Bros. Pictures' upcoming animated venture Scoob!, a sudden wave of emotion washed over me. Naturally, a smile filled my face when Shaggy and Scooby-Doo started with their brotastic bit of banter before introducing the trailer, but it wasn't until they cut to pup Scoob and adolescent Shaggy meeting for the first time that the nostalgia of childhood took over. I was immediately transported to 1999 where I found myself staying up late (8pm) and tuning into Cartoon Network's TV premiere of the classic Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Like most kids of the '90s, I was exposed to the Boomerang and Cartoon Network block of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! reruns. The original 1969 series followed a group of teenagers and a talking Great Dane as they traveled around in their psychedelic van dubbed the Mystery Machine, solving various horror and sci-fi inspired mysteries. Interestingly, it was the horror aspects of the show that I found myself most drawn to. I spent many a Friday night wandering around Blockbuster (R.I.P) and searching for rentals that my 8-year-old self saw as the Scooby-Doos for adults. And looking back, that may be exactly what they were.
A classic recurring segment of the episodes were the groovy chase montages, where the gang would weave in and out of set pieces trying to avoid whichever monster of the week was in pursuit, usually accompanied by a breezy pop song in the background. Though comedic in tone, one can't help but see paralells to the teen slasher genre of films that were so popular throughout the late 70's-80's. Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees all famously stalked after their teen victims as they ran away in fear, usually tumbling over the odd chair, broom, or corpse in their path. Scoob got to that trope first, though usually avoiding the corpses.
Another aspect of the show that found its way ingeniously woven into the slasher canon was the overall meta nature of Scooby and his crew. The earlier seasons of the series were set to a laugh track as though the proceedings were in front of a live studio audience, a smart gimmick for the time, considering the popularity of sitcoms and the 2D prosceniumesque presentation of the show. The characters (usually Shaggy and Scooby) would often turn to the camera/audience and comment on whatever outrageous predicament they found themselves in at that moment. 1996's Scream is a perfect example of characters that are aware enough to realize what type of movie they're in
Randy: "Careful. This is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life, for one last scare."
[Billy starts to rise]
Sidney Prescott: [shoots Billy] "Not in my movie."
Scooby and the gang have also popularized just that, "the gang." A group of young adults who have banded together to solve whatever mystery of the week that has landed in their laps. The WB's (CW) Buffy The Vampire Slayer outright steals from the show by calling their group of demon fighting avengers 'The Scooby Gang' (Buffy Summers herself, Sarah Michelle-Geller, was even the first live-action iteration of Daphne Blake. Coincidence? I think not!). Beyond Buffy, many movies/shows in the horror genre have their versions of the gang; Supernatural, Teen Wolf, It Follows, and even the more recent The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina squad up.
Scooby-Doo was a kind of gateway drug for me all those years ago into what has become my favorite genre of media. It looks like his shiny coat will be even more lustrous in the upcoming Scoob!.