Music has been a key element to Scooby-Doo since the very beginning, from the nonsensical pop songs that highlighted the chase sequences of the original Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, to the appearance of the rock group Hex Girls in Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, but now with Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire, we get the first full-on feature-length animated musical. Taking a tried and true series and spicing it up with music can have wonderful results — just take a look at Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Once More With Feeling” to see it done well — but can Scooby-Doo and the gang tread the musical waters as well?
Chasing down and unmasking monsters is tough work, and even though Mystery Incorporated is the best at this sort of thing, it must still take a toll on a person; so after days of chasing down rat creatures, glob monsters, a snakeasauras, and a giant cockroach, a vacation is more than overdue (I’m still wondering if these guys are getting paid for unmasking crooks). This leads to Velma (Mindy Cohn) deciding to drive everyone to the scenic town of Petit Chauve Sourie Ville, a town that is holding its annual Vampire Palooza. On route, we are subjected to the song, “Done With Monsters,” where Fred (Frank Welker), Daphne (Grey Griffin) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) sing about how they “Don’t want no ghouls or nothing scary,” but for some reason, Velma’s first instinct is to surprise them with a trip to a vampire festival? Didn’t she learn anything from the Australian vacation Scooby-Doo! And the Legend of the Vampire? Because any event with a monster in the title is not going to result in a restful vacation. On their arrival at Vampire Palooza, Shaggy and Scooby point out the absurdity of her decision, “You brought us to vampire convention, to relax?” and before one can say “Jinkies,” the group is neck-deep in vampires and mysteries.
Velma tries to explain that it isn’t a vampire convention, but actually, “A celebration of everything vampiric,” which is about the dumbest way to reassure the likes of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, but the rest of the gang are all for staying. Fred is down with this because he’s a dumb lunkhead, and Daphne because, like Velma, she’s a huge fan of the vampire romance book series “Silverlight.” The host of this festival is none other than Vincent Van Helsing (Jeff Bennett), the great-great-great-grandson of the legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, and he is also the author of several non-fiction books on vampires. He invited Velma and her friends to be his guests at the festival, but what is strange here is that one minute Velma is stating “There are no such things as real vampires,” and in the next, we learn that she is a friend and fan of Vincent’s work. How would someone like Vincent and Velma even meet? Does Velma hang out in vampire chatrooms to troll true believers?
The mystery kicks off when the gang and Van Helsing attend a show performed by Fangenschanz, a troupe of “vampire” actors that put on a kind of Circe du Soleil vampiric act, but when these actors use an ancient resurrection chant as part of their show, they inadvertently release a thousand-year-old vampire named Lord Valdronya. This particular vampire needs to find a bride so that he will gain unbridled power, “But not just any bride,” Van Helsing states. “A mortal beauty, pure of heart.” This, of course, puts Daphne right in the crosshairs of the monster.
So who could be behind this resurrected monster? As in most of these Scooby-Doo movies, we are not short on suspects. First off, we have Vincent Van Helsing who is in poor financial straits and hates the fact that he has to rent out his place to Vampire Palooza just to pay the rent; next, there is Lita Rutland (Mindy Sterling), the festival organizer, who explains that tourism is down and the festival is losing funds, thus the sighting of a “real” vampire would certainly boost attendance. And then there is Bram (Christian Campbell), the lead singer of Fangenschanz who not only sang the resurrection chant, but he and his group’s behaviour is more than a tad suspicious. Finally, we have Jesper Poubelle (Jim Cummings), an anti-vampire crusader whose campaign of “Moral righteousness” is all part of his plan to run for mayor.
• This Scooby-Doo adventure includes the rarity of Velma being the one to drive The Mystery Machine, which is a rather nice change.
• This movie makes several vampire cultural references. The book “Silverlight” is an obvious parody of the Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer, the location for this adventure is in Louisiana which is the setting of the vampire series True Blood, and the design of Vadronya owes a lot to Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula movie.
• The local Sheriff is a nice homage to Don Knott’s character of Deputy Barney Fife.
• The Sheriff deputizes Jesper Poubelle and his followers as vampire hunters, and I’m pretty sure that’s not actually a thing.
• Though this movie falls back on the trope of Daphne being kidnapped, we do get to see her use lock-picking skills and her knowledge of fashion and fabrics to help solve the mystery.
• A kidnapped Daphne is strangely allowed to text Fred: BEEN KIDNAPPED BY VAMPIRE ACTORS PLEASE HELP! which makes these very considerate kidnappers.
• My favourite moment in this film is when Daphne is found to have been kidnapped and Velma comments, “You know, I’m pure of heart, does anybody think of kidnapping me? Nooooo!”
• Once again the villain uses absurd technology to pull off the hoax. In this case, its hover boots were stolen from a local inventor, which gives the vampire his ability to fly, and even if you buy that concept, it doesn’t explain how he can shoot fireballs or rip through the exterior of The Mystery Machine as if it were cardboard.
As a mystery, Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire is pretty lame, as almost everything points at Vincent Van Helsing as the culprit; it’s his museum that housed the supposed remains of Lord Vadronya, he was quick to explain away the vampire wearing a costume made of modern fabric, and his motive to save the museum and help sell more books was too glaringly obvious that even the youngest viewer of this movie would have assumed he’s the guilty party. That Van Helsing conned the vampire actors into believing he was an actual vampire, so as to aid him in his plans, was the only interesting touch this film had to offer, but what is never explained is what he planned to do if he had actually managed to make Daphne a “Bride of Valdronya,” as this would have opened him up to exposure.
But what about the music, you ask? To say that the lyrics and musical numbers for Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire was as bland and uninteresting as a high school product of Faust would be a kindness, and these banal wannabee Disney moments were certainly not aided by the fact that the voice actors for this series of movies are not and have never been professional singers — this I fault the producers of this film, not Frank Welker and company — and it doesn’t even appear as if the production could afford Auto-Tune. The only serviceable musical moments were when Jeff Bennett did his best Tim Curry imitation while performing the songs for the vampire Valdronya. Overall, Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire was, at best, an interesting concept, but one that failed in execution, making this another sad and forgettable chapter in the history of Scooby-Doo.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire (2012)
Movie Rank - 4.5/10
While watching Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire viewers must suffer through a lazy script, horrible musical numbers and amateur hour singing that is only slightly aided by decent animation, making this entry worth skipping.