Remember when Scooby-Doo was just goofy kid fun? In the end the fake monsters didn’t really do anything to menacing to frighten people. They bumped in the night. They left glowing footprints. They made freaky noises. Nothing that made you run out of the room in abject horror. That’s all changed with Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare. The kids drive their Mystery Machine van into a Friday 13th tribute.
The film opens with at Camp Little Moose as kids listening to a counselor talk about the Woodsman. He was a mean camp counselor that might have died when campers put a snake in his backpack. It’s said his ghost now roams the woods looking for revenge. It’s the dark secret of the lake. At the end of the story, a figure pops out of the darkness. He waves an axe. After the initial screams, it turns out this is merely a prank. But thing go horribly wrong when the real Woodsman arrives to cause mayhem. He swings his ax and causes buildings to explode in fireballs. Is this secretly Camp Crystal Lake?
Velma, Shaggy, Daphne and Scooby-Doo get dragged to this haunted ground because Fred wants a vacation. His parents used to bring him up here for summers on the water. He’s pumped. Little does he know about the Woodsman and the equally evil Fisherman, a dino-fish. They discover too much about them as Fred offers to help out at Camp Little Moose. Before things get too intense, Daphne slips inside a bikini. The outdoor horrors don’t like the outsiders on their turf. Can these meddling kids and their dog unmask the plot? Or will they finally be killed for being so nosy?
There’s a lot of high profile vocal talent adding to the animation. Mindy Cohn (Facts of Life is Velma while Matthew Lillard takes his live action role into the animated universe. Mark Hamill (Star Wars‘ Luke Skywalker) does multiple characters. The teen Disney set gets represented with Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. The major score is Tim Conway. It’s Dorf meets Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare really does have scares for little kids. This isn’t the old rubber mask boo action. There’s real horror techniques used to put a jolt in junior viewers. They cut away as the ax comes down. Where does it land? The animation brings shadows to the actions for creeps to lurk behind. This is a good mystery for those who have outgrown the Scrappy-Doo action.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The colors pop on this transfer. It looks more groovy than the original series. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo. The sound mix goes for the shocks as the monsters chase the kids around the lake. There’s also dubs in French, Spanish and Portuguese. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
Scooby-Doo! Spooky Camp Stories (9:08) lets a guy name Cooper promote the fireside frights. He shares a couple small shockers that can be repeated at a kiddie camp. Nothing is as shocking as the story of the Frank McCourt’s divorce.
Beware the Beast from Below (23:15) is from Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated. This is the latest incarnation of the show. There’s no Globetrotters. But one of the suspects looks like horror host Mr. Lobo from Cinema Insomnia.
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare really does have a scare for little kids. The tribute to Friday the 13th almost seems too out of place for Scooby-Doo, but the dog pulls it off. There’s no gore so don’t worry about covering eyes. This is the best thing they’ve done with Scooby-Doo and the gang since the original series.
Warner Home Video presents Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare. Directed by: Ethan Spaulding. Starring: Matthew Lillard, Mindy Cohn, Tim Conway and Mark Hamill. Running time: 71 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: September 14, 2010.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.