A.J.’s Big ’80s Horrorthon #17: “Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers” (1987)
by A.J. Hakari
I can appreciate “Scooby-Doo” as most kids’ introduction to horror. The show’s concept goes all the way back to The Bat Whispers and The Cat and the Canary, early genre pictures that also pitted cowardly protagonists against supposedly supernatural foes later revealed as flesh-and-blood villains. It’s too bad that the cartoon’s appeal has stuck with the kiddie set and those who trip the light nostalgic, for while grade-school A.J. would’ve inhaled a frothy frivolity like Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, bitter twentysomething A.J. is still trying to set it on fire with his mind.
Wisely leaving their crime-solving chums with the Mystery Machine, Shaggy (voice of Casey Kasem), Scooby (voice of Don Messick), and Scrappy (also Messick) go at it alone for their latest supernatural caper. It seems that Shaggy’s uncle has up and died, leaving him heir to his sprawling and spooky plantation. If it weren’t bad enough having to deal with trigger-happy hillbillies and a sheriff who graduated from the J.W. Pepper School of Law Enforcement, Shaggy’s new digs are (big shock) apparently infested with guests of the incorporeal kind. But while Shaggy wanders across the estate on a treasure hunt, the task of ridding the joint of ghosts falls on the Boo Brothers, a trio of spirits who make better troublemakers than they do spectral exterminators.
“Scooby-Doo” is animation’s equivalent of the Tootsie Roll: it’s been around forever, 99 percent of the populace knows what it is, and it’s not about to change its formula anytime soon. An episode or two can still satisfy a child-at-heart’s sweet tooth, but for others, it only means another filling to be shattered and searing pain to be endured. Maybe Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers was a bad pick and that the five billion other titles in this franchise have something better to offer. But man, was this a tough sit, with its paper-thin plot (yes, even for “just a kid’s movie”) and endless repetition of recycled jokes. Not only was it a chore to sit through Shaggy and Scooby deliver the same scaredy-cat schtick for 93 minutes (Christ, was this thing padded), the Boo Brothers — who get far less screen time than the name suggests — have an even more irritating act. Imagine if the Three Stooges were all Curly, and you can pretty much settle on how fast they’ll grate on you.
That little ones will go nuts for Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers is such a given, it’s barely even worth mentioning. The riddle-solving aspect of the story will engage them, and some of the spookular sights (like a skeletal prowler and a ghost decked out in Confederate gear) admittedly look kinda cool. But while some Scooby fans will have pledged their love to Boo Brothers sight unseen, I’m filing it alongside “Hammerman” and any other cartoons of my youth that are better off stricken from memory.