You don’t have to dig deep to find a slew of found-footage-style horror films. They are practically a dime a dozen these days. You got flicks like Paranormal Activity, V/H/S, Unfriended, and Creep and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Also, watch the Scooby-Doo Halloween Special.
There’s a very good chance that if you flip on a spooky movie. It’ll start with some unsuspecting individual holding up their trusty camcorder gleefully recording their friends and family. It is before all hell breaks loose in some unforeseen and unfortunate way.
Take a little trip back in time to 1999. You’ll find the film that paved the way for the entire genre, The Blair Witch Project. When it came out, it completely changed the way that audiences looked at horror movies
Critics were less than enthusiastic about the film when it first premiered. It went on to develop a bit of a cult following and is remembered as not only being a classic. Also, as the origin of the found-footage phenomenon that we see in modern films.
Being as iconic of a flick as it was, everybody took a stab at spoofing it. Scary Movie made a memorable attempt at making light of the ghastly film. Also, the example in The Office when Michael Scott produced the training video that he called ‘The Scranton Witch Project’. Then he whispered the importance of labeling food items in the break room refrigerator.
The Blair Witch Project
Eventually, this trend of lampooning The Blair Witch Project reached an altogether unexpected realm – that being children’s cartoons.
You might not think of Scooby-Doo as being particularly horrifying. At worst, it’s a mildly spooky affair that follows Scooby. Gang’s repeated forays into uncovering the devious exploits of rather inept and bungling masked criminals. And their botched attempts at committing virtually innocuous offenses.
However in 1999, just in time for Halloween, Cartoon Network aired an episode of the Hanna-Barbera series. It would stir up a bit of controversy and would lead to the episode never being aired again.
Facts Verse Presents: The Scooby-Doo Halloween Special That Was Never ReAired
Before we unmask this mystery, make sure you hit the like button and subscribe to our channel. Tap the bell icon to turn on notifications so you can stay informed about all of our latest facts-filled videos.
Leading Up To The Scooby-Doo Project
As we already touched on, in the fall of 1999 leading up to Halloween. Cartoon network started running a marathon of every episode of the original Scooby series, Scooby-Doo: Where are you. That’s 41 episodes in case you were wondering.
Between each episode, little snippets of the larger special The Scooby-Doo Project were thrown in to create. Anticipation for the forthcoming episode and to set the ominous Halloween-y mood.
The Scooby-Doo Project
The full special was 19 minutes long and featured a full-on parody of the then-famous film. The opening showed the viewers found footage that was supposedly found at the Mystery Machine. And it was found abandoned on a dirt road in the woods.
We get a bit of police footage too that shows the ‘groovy’ van roped off by police tape. Also the missing poster indicates that the gang has gone missing and has never been found.
The footage that was recovered then begins rolling again and the plot thickens.
Unique Writing And Visual Style
The special features a unique blend of live-action backgrounds with Scoob and company. All being superimposed in their animated forms over the faux 16mm footage.
There is oodles of self-referential humor that breaks the fourth wall in its storytelling. There is a notable example of this when Velma sighs and exclaims that she ‘hates the part with the doors’ when they are running from the monster in a classic chase scene throughout the haunted house.
Another humorous jab at the franchise’s tropes is when Fred gets frustrated with Velma for losing her glasses and demands that she gets a glasses strap so she doesn’t keep losing them all the time.
References To Blair Witch’s Script
In a break from typical Scooby-Doo form, clear homages to the Blair Witch Projects script are made with pretty straightforward parallels to scenes from the film. Such is the case when Daphne is crying about the fact that she has been lost for a week, is out of food, and hasn’t done her nails in days.
We are treated with another direct reference when Shaggy is facing the wall in the haunted house. These kind of nods are scattered throughout the masterfully executed special.
Well Received By Audiences And Critics Alike
The parody was by all accounts a spot-on spoof of its source material. Critically speaking, the special was all but universally applauded and to this day the episode was a fan favorite. It begs the question then, if it was so appreciated by viewers then why has it never been aired again or received a home release via physical media or streaming services.
One plausible explanation for why the special aired once and then proceeded to collect metaphorical dust in Cartoon Networks archives is that the distribution rights that were difficult to obtain in order to re-air or distribute on DVD and Blu Ray.
Another possible explanation is that Cartoon Network was threatened with some kind of litigation by the producers of The Blair Witch Project calling into question intellectual property rights. Maybe the lampooning stepped on the toes of some Hollywood studio brass and the matter was quietly settled outside of the court system.
The most likely theory however is that the special was just too scary for a kid’s network.
If you think about it, this explanation is the most possible because of multiple lines of reasoning.
First off, throughout the majority of mysteries in the long list of Scooby-Doo franchise series, the monster or villain that is the central nefarious element of the episode is typically employing on some kind of hoax in order to scare off the meddling kids. At the end of the day, the crook is caught and the crew dramatically unmasks them, revealing the truth of the matter and resolving the conflict.
In the Scooby-Doo project, however, the monster is unmasked only to find out that there was still a real monster lurking in the shadows that subsequently jumps from the shadows and attacks our heroes.
It’s then heavily implied that the gang was never heard from again. This is a major departure from any other tale told in the Scooby universe. Defeat rather than victory -and at the hands of some kind of genuine monstrosity no less – is a far cry from the heroic tales young fans are used to seeing. To be fair, this kind of theme is the thing that nightmares are made of in the sleeping minds of impressionable viewers.
Potential Parental Outcry
Stemming from their objection to the uncharacteristically dark subject material and the specials frightening ending, it is reasonable to assume that parents of terrified children expressed their discontent with Cartoon Network thus putting more pressure on the network to not re-air the special. Although Cartoon Network has branched out in recent years and started to create programming for adults, at the time their primary target audience was children and young teens. There isn’t any real solid evidence for the parental outcry hypothesis being relativity but it would help explain why it never saw a later release.
Producers for Cartoon Network On-Air recently reached out to fans of The Scooby-Doo Project on Reddit and answered some questions. Unfortunately, they didn’t confirm the exact reason why a reissue was never released but they didn’t rule it out as a possibility for the future. It would seem most likely that if the special were to be re-released in the future that it would be distributed in a digital format for download or streaming.
The producers did however provide some notable insight that had previously been under wraps. The scenes that show interviews of the ‘townsfolk’ before the gang ventures off into the woods were filmed in Alpharetta, Georgia just outside of Atlanta where Cartoon Networks headquarters is. The people interviewed were one of the producer’s parents and several of their neighbors.
The Police press release scene was filmed at the Cartoon Network conference room right next to the cafeteria. The officer and the deputy were both prominent programmers for the network. The audience shouting out questions were rank and file Cartoon Network employees and the scene was filmed in less than an hour.
The Haunted House
The haunted house was actually a house that one of the lead producers lived in when he was in college. It was built during the Civil War and is located in Smyrna, Georgia.
The real-life mystery machine was in Canada when the special was being filmed so one of the crew flew up from Atlanta and filmed the scenes that included it in one day.
The cast of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was cast for the special. They had to call in their lines over the phone from LA since the special was entirely produced in Atlanta with the exception of the locally filmed scenes and the Mystery Machine footage in Canada.
The real-life footage was all filmed on an inexpensive handheld mini-DV camcorder in northern Georgia.
Finally, the Scooby-Doo Project was awarded an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Special Project.
The Real Monster
Arguably, the scariest monster to make an appearance in the special wasn’t the demonic spikey beast that we see at the end.
Any fan of the Scooby-Doo franchise will tell you that one of the most despised characters in the Scooby-verse is Scrappy Doo – who appears halfway through the special when the gang is all packed in the tent like sardines. Fred and Daphne seem to agree with that sentiment when they say “Who Invited Him?” —- poor Scrappy.
The rest of the crew seems to be equally terrified by the pint-sized pooches’ presence as well. To be fair, Scrappy is one of the most un-asked for sidekicks in television history.
Seriously though, who invited that guy?
Well, here we are once again at the end of another facts-tastic video.
This is the part of the video when we ask you for your opinion.
Why do you think the Scooby-Doo Project has never aired again since it’s first run back in 1999? Do you think it was too scary for younger audiences or do you think there was some intellectual property rights issue that got in the way?
Let us know what you think in the comments section.
And before you go, make sure you like this video and subscribe to our channel to keep seeing facts-packed videos just like this one. Don’t forget to tap the bell icon to turn on notifications.