Cryptozoology is the pseudoscience and subculture that aims to prove the existence of such creatures as Bigfoot, El Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness Monster — a class of scientists that have even less credibility than Mystery Incorporated when it comes to tangling with real monsters — and being that Scooby-Doo and the gang have already encountered Bigfoot in “The Ghost of Bigfoot” back in the 70s series The New Scooby-Doo Movies, encountered El Chupacabra in Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico, and even ran into Nessie in the episode “The Loch Ness Mess,” in the New Scooby-Doo Movies and back as far as the original Scooby-Doo Where are You! (with the episode “A Highland Fling with a Monstrous Thing”), where Nessie makes her first appearance. I guess the producers of Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster thought that three times was the charm when it came to this particular monster.
With Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, the globetrotting continues as we have Mystery Inc. travelling to Loch Ness, Scotland to visit Daphne’s (Grey Griffin) cousin Shannon Blake (Grey Griffin but with a Scottish accent), who is hosting this year’s Highland Games at Blake Castle. Unfortunately, the games are in danger of being cancelled due to the recent attacks by the Loch Ness Monster, but with Fred’s (Frank Welker) trap abilities, and Velma’s (Mindy Cohn) scientific sleuthing, the gang just may save the day — that is if Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) can get over their fear of monsters and haggis.
Geography Note: There is only one castle located on Loch Ness, and that would be Urquhart Castle, which Blake Castle was clearly made to resemble. Also, once again, Fred spares no expense when it comes to bringing the Mystery Machine across the globe.
As mysteries go, Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster is one of the lesser entries. We may get a plethora of suspects, but the truly “guilty” party is never in doubt. First, we have Dockmaster claiming that Shannon’s planned games have “Disturbed the spirit that haunts these waters;” second, there is Del Chillman (Jeff Bennett), a Loch Ness Monster enthusiast and amateur cryptozoologist who drives around in his van that he has named “The Lockness Monster Machine;” and thirdly we have Professor Fiona Pembrooke (Sheena Easton), a scientist who has staked her whole career on proving the monster exists, even though, as Velma points out “It has destroyed your career, demolished your scientific credibility, and devastated you financially.” Finally, we have Sir Ian Locksley (Jeff Bennett), who has arrived to be the head judge of the games but is also the director of the Scottish Natural History Museum and Fiona’s old boss. Locksley is a staunch denier of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, and he fired Fiona for spending all her time “Chasing after imaginary monsters.”
The monster is, of course, fake, and continues in the Scooby-Doo tradition of being a mechanical contraption that looks amazing — performing feats like destroying stone castle towers — but is later revealed to be less than impressive, and clearly incapable of doing what we saw it accomplish throughout the movie.
There is no way that a van draped with a green tarp was remotely the thing we saw chasing the Mystery Machine through the bogs. This is called cheating the audience, but because the intended audience was children, this was considered okay. I tend to disagree.
Stray Observations and Clues:
• Velma comments that over the years, the Loch Ness Monster had been sighted several times travelling on land. Since when has Nessie ever been considered to be an amphibious dinosaur?
• During water attacks, Nessie makes a mechanical humming sound, as if made by an engine. I wonder what that could mean.
• Fiona lends the Scooby Gang her boat so that they can track down the monster, but if she’s all fired up to prove Nessie is real, why isn’t she going out with them? As Alice in Wonderland would say, “Curiouser and curiouser!”
• Locksley lends the Scooby gang a million-dollar mini-submersible so that they can investigate underwater caves. That’s pretty goddamn generous; I wouldn’t trust these guys with a ten-speed bike.
• The beast, when on land, leaves massive footprints, but later when revealed to be just Del’s stolen van covered in a green tarp — poor, delusional Del — it is never explained how those tracks were made.
• In the water, it is supposed to be a pedal-powered submersible — operated by you know who — but at the size shown here, this is clearly impossible.
The person behind the Loch Ness Monster is, of course, Professor Fiona Pembrooke, and this whole hoax — which also included her hiring a couple of local lads to steal Del’s van and make a giant Nessie puppet — was all to convince Locksley that the monster was real so as to enlist his aid in finding it. Now, as preposterous as the nature of this hoax is, and it is pretty unbelievable, it’s kind of nice that we end up with a movie where there is no actual villain; there were no crooks trying to scare away locals to pull off some real estate scheme or recover Confederate gold, just a silly scientist trying to salvage her career so that she could eventually prove that Nessie does really exist. It’s kind of sweet.
There are quite a few fun moments in Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster and the standard “Run from the monster” sequences were well-executed — though Fiona will owe Shannon quite a bit of money in damages as some of those sequences trashed Castle Blake — and the banter and comedic antics of our group were in rare form, with Fred being especially amusing throughout the movie’s running gag of the Mystery Machine constantly falling in the loch or being wrecked by the monster. This Scooby entry certainly doesn’t break any new ground but it is easily one of the more entertaining offerings during this particular era of straight-to-video movies.
Note: When Shannon gives the Scooby Gang a tour of Castle Blake, we learn a bit about the history of Daphne’s ancestors: “For centuries the Blakes have been falling through trap doors, finding secret passageways, getting kidnapped, and getting caught in traps of our own creation. The Blakes have been famous for being — how should I put this…danger prone.” That is some nice meta-back story right there.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster (2004)
Movie Rank - 6/10
Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster may not have had the best mystery – guilty party telegraphed at every turn – but there was still lots there for Scooby fans to enjoy; the animation was decent – though the CGI enhanced animation for Nessie tended towards the distracting – and the comedy on hand was fairly well handled and delivered with aplomb.