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After the last batch of animated direct-to-video Scooby-Doo movies, I had high hopes for SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE. Now as a life long Scooby-Doo fan, I can honestly say that this latest release is a disappointment. While I certainly wasnít expecting Shakespeare, this program isnít a particularly good animated film made for the direct-to-video market. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to give the impression that SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE is terrible, because it isn't. However, it is what I'd describe as lackluster and uninspired. Running seventy-three minutes, SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE is like a mediocre television episode that has been padded out to feature length, with an emphasis on the padding. Way too many musical montages fill in for much needed plot, or even some comic bits. The threadbare storyline of SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE takes the Mystery Inc. gang to a music festival in Australia; where they encounter a local legend called the Yowie Yahoo and a vampire rock group that are making participating bands disappear from the festival.

Warner Home Videoís DVD release of SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE is presented in the direct-to-video, 4:3 television aspect ratio. The animation is slightly better than Saturday morning fare, but it doesnít even come close to looking like theatrical animation. The image is crisp, clean and very colorful, with all of the hues appearing solid and stable. Since this is a direct-to-video release, there is no wear and tear on the film elements, and everything appearing pristine. Digital compression artifacts are a non-issue on this DVD release.

SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that is rather pleasing for this time of fare. There are some fun sound effects that make use of the entire soundstage, with a few of them panning cleanly between channels. Fidelity is rather good for the musical content of the program, although some of songs composed for this direct-to-video release sound as though they were intended for a decidedly non-discriminating audience. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic (16:9 enhanced) interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Providing a running commentary are Freddy, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo! The commentary is mildly amusing, but a bit sparse. Also included is Get the Beat with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy music videos hosted by the duo, as well as a teaser for the October 2003 release of SCOOBY-DOO AND THE MONSTER OF MEXICO, plus trailers for other Scooby-Doo DVD titles. SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE is also DVD-ROM enabled, offering web links and some game demos.

As a life long Scooby-Doo fan, I can say I was disappointed SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE. The studio can't pad out a mediocre TV caliber adventure with even more mediocre music, and then expect longtime Scooby-Doo fans to be delighted with the end result. While SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE isnít a terrible program, it could have been a whole lot better. Letís hope the production team at Hanna-Barbera gets some fresh blood and fresh ideas behind the next direct-to-video animated adventure featuring everyoneís favorite cowardly canine sleuth.



Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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