The Scooby gang has encountered the likes of Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster on multiple occasions, but with Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, we get a movie that is more of a clear homage to the Universal Monster movies of the 30s and 40s than we’ve ever seen before, and then to add a little icing to the cake, we get a Scooby-Doo movie that ties into past mysteries that our stalwart heroes have solved over the years.
A live-streaming web show of Daphne’s (Grey Griffin) is interrupted by Velma’s (Mindy Cohn) family lawyer, Cuthbert Crawley (Kevin Michael Richardson), who informs her that as the youngest Dinkley, she has inherited her great-great uncle’s estate in Transylvania — though not the one located in the Carpathian mountains — instead, this place is located in Transylvania, Pennsylvania, a place where ethnic Transylvanians can live peaceably in 19th-century style. Velma has absolutely no interest in claiming her inheritance, “I don’t want anything to do with my Great-Great Uncle Basil. They can give all of it away for all I care!” The gang is warned that a curse also comes with this estate, “It’s said that if anyone gets too close to the Baron’s legacy, they will lose what they love the most and then be utterly destroyed.” Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) is quite relieved that Velma has no interest in visiting her cursed homestead, but when a mysterious masked figure destroys the Mystery Machine with a car bomb… well, to say Fred (Frank Welker) doesn’t take it well would be a bit of an understatement.
Fred: “Together we’ve brought down more than our share of villains with nothing more than pluck, jerry-rigged traps, and a box of Scooby Snacks, and for no better reason than a love of justice, and my van, and a knack for meddling, and a love for my van.”
Daphne: “Did you just say van?”
Fred: “No. No… I-I didn’t say van. But now, we find the forces of evil have come to us. Why? We don’t know why. Who? We can’t say. But there is one thing we can say for certain!”
Fred: “They killed my van!”
With the Mystery Machine demolished, the gang is forced to buy tickets for the Transylvania Express, a night train to a town they never knew existed, where once again, the mysterious masked figure attacks, attempting to derail the out-of-control train and kill all on board. While aboard the train, Velma explains that her family’s real last name is Von Dinkenstein which was changed and Americanized when her ancestors arrived at Ellis Island and that her great-great-uncle was Baron Von Dinkenstein, who was said to have created a monster that inspired famous novelist Mary Shelley to write her novel, Frankenstein. This family history is apparently also the reason why Velma has dedicated her life to debunking the supernatural, which brings adventures like Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost into question.
Upon arriving at Castle Dinkenstein, and after escaping the condemnation of Inspector Krunch (Kevin Michael Richardson) and the unruly townsfolk who blame Velma’s family for the curse and bad tourism, the gang make their way to the castle and are greeted by Mrs. Vanders (Diedrich Bader), the castle’s housekeeper, who gives them a tour that leads them into the Baron’s laboratory where the equipment has been kept functional and the corpse of the monster on ice. Velma decides to follow the Baron’s notes in recreating the circumstances of the monster’s reanimation as some bizarre way of proving that it’s all fake.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Vanders shows Velma an electro-wheel machine which hypnotizes her into becoming a mad scientist.
As Scooby-Doo mysteries go, Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy has to be one of the more bizarre examples, as not only do we get one of our heroes going full-on evil — Velma even tries to place poor Shaggy and Scooby’s brains inside the monster — but the Dinkenstein Curse simply ravages the Scooby gang. Fred is constantly reminded of the loss of his van and without it, he seems to have lost his confidence as well. After winning lederhosen in an eating contest, held by the town’s Burgermeister (Dee Bradley Baker), Shaggy and Scooby discover that they have not only lost their appetite but their cowardly nature as well. Daphne goes shopping for a new dress only to be told by the local gypsy girl (Candi Milo) that she is no longer a size two but a size eight, with her now puffy features and frizzy hair it’s clear that the curse has caused Daphne to lose her looks.
Who could be responsible for such dastardly deeds? Could it be the sinister housekeeper or the hunchbacked Iago (Jeff Bennett) trying to bring back their master’s legacy? What about the townsfolk who blame the Dinkensteins for the town’s economic failings? Well, it turns out that everyone is guilty of something, and the whole thing was a revenge conspiracy to destroy Mystery Incorporated. The inspector is unmasked and revealed to be Cuthbert Crawley, Velma’s family lawyer, who is actually Cuthbert Crawls — the partner of Cosgood Creeps who haunted a mansion as green ghosts in “A Night of Fright is No Delight” from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? The Burgermeister is exposed by Velma to be C.L. Magnus, who posed as Redbeard’s ghost in the mystery “Go Away Ghosts,” and then the gypsy is revealed to be Lila, a singer who posed as one of Mamba Wamba’s zombies from the mystery “Mamba Wamba and the Voodoo Hoodoo.” Finally, Mrs. Vanders is unmasked, revealing her to be Mama Mione, the cafe owner and criminal gang leader who dressed up as Old Iron Face from “The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face.”
Turns out that there is a large online community of crooks who really hate Mystery Incorporated, and once this group discovered the history of Velma’s ancestry, they bought the castle, which was sitting on a very explosive natural gas deposit, making it a perfect trap for those meddling kids, but how did they pull off the curse that almost destroyed the Scooby gang?
The dress Daphne purchased from the gypsy was, in fact, an inflatable suit and her puffy features were caused by her shrimp allergies. The lederhosen that Shaggy and Scooby won at the Burgermeister’s eating contest was rigged with acupuncture needles that removed their appetite as well as their fears. As for Fred, well the villains clearly knew about his van obsession so blowing up the mystery machine was all that was needed to undo him.
Also, Iago was an undercover operative from the Department of Defense, and he was after a military exoskeleton that was stolen from their research labs.
• Once again, what was once Scooby-Doo canon is brought into question. In this movie, we are told that Velma Dinkley is the youngest in her family, which negates the fact that in Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo we met her younger sister Madelyn.
• This small-town version of Transylvania is more in keeping with the Universal backlot version of Eastern Europe than it is the actual Romanian region.
• Fred has the gang create a cheerleading pyramid atop the train to create drag to slow it down, but then later detaches the locomotive from the passenger car to prevent them from crashing into the town. Why was this not done first, and skip the ridiculous human pyramid?
• A 19th-century set town, one with a history of monsters and curses, would more than likely bring tourists rather than keep them away.
• I love that the town’s economy centers on torch production.
• Mrs. Vanders is a combination of the stern housekeeper Mrs. Danvers from Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Frau Blucher from Mel Brooks’ satirical Young Frankenstein.
• Inspector Krunch, with his missing hand, is a parody of Inspector Krogh, the one-armed officer from Son of Frankenstein.
• That Daphne can’t tell she is wearing an inflatable fat suit is probably one of the dumbest ideas in the history of Scooby-Doo.
• A hypnotized person cannot be forced to do something against their will, thus Velma would not have attempted to remove Shaggy and Scooby’s brains. Unless, secretly, she’s always wanted those two dead.
What makes Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy an interesting chapter in the history of Scooby-Doo is that this was the first time villains from their past made a second appearance, and even though the conspiracy plot was completely ridiculous — even Velma points out that they would have been better off selling the rights to the natural gas under the castle rather than this stupid revenge plot — the idea that multiple online message boards exist simply to hate on the Scooby gang is kind of brilliant. Another stand-out feature is the beautiful gothic/expressionistic art direction given to this episode, which harkens back to the fantastic look of 2010’s Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated.
There may be story elements of Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy that are problematic at best, and the Daphne fat-shaming element will still leave a bad taste in your mouth, but overall, this was a fun Scooby-Doo adventure and seeing classic villains returning for revenge was a nice touch. Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy is an animated mystery that I can heartily recommend.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy (2014)
Movie Rank - 7.5/10
Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy is easily one of the better looking entries in the Direct-to-Video history of Scooby-Doo, its art direction is simply superb, and the idea of revenge seeking villains from their past was the cherry on top.