DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales – Field of Screams!

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Hiya creeps and ghouls! Before we start this rad review, your ol’ pal Daniel XIII has a confession to make; sports and The Ouija Board Kid don’t exactly mix…I know, you’re all completely shocked right? So why am I making such a confession? Well it’s because recently I had a chance to view “Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales – Field of Screams”, the new 2 disc DVD collection that focuses entirely on sports themed episodes of everyone’s favorite crime-solvin’ mutt! Well fiends, I am absolutely overjoyed to tell you that you need zero knowledge of those accursed athletics to enjoy this release!

To kick things off, Warner Bros. home Entertainment have created a brand-new 22 minute cartoon entitled “Scooby-Doo! Ghastly Goals!”. While I have admittedly been out of the loop as to what the Mystery Inc. gang have been up to since about, oh 1985 or so (when they were rubbin’ elbows with ol’ vivacious Vincent Price in 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo), I am happy to report that absolutely nothing has changed (ok, one thing has changed, Velma uses a tablet and a Google parody named Giggle to do some research on the featured creature of the piece). The characters dress, act and for sound pretty much as they always have, and to this horror kid that is a wonderful thing! Too often when new iterations of classic characters are produced, the temptation is to update and alter them almost beyond recognition, which can be jarring. It was great to just throw this on and immediately get right into the action as if nearly 30 years hadn’t past since I followed the show.

So, what does this adventure involve? Well, our heroes find themselves in Brazil, where they quickly run afoul of an ancient creature named Eshu (picture if the late H.R. Giger’s alien design was a lobster that got boiled). Before you can scream “Gooooaaallll!” the gang is knee deep in a mystery involving everything from a super bouncing formula, signed soccer balls, an oblivious official that refuses to cancel an event due to a monster (think the mayor of amity Island in Jaws), and of course Danny Trejo (well not him personally, but your pal and mine Machete does provide voice work for the feature). All in all Ghastly Ghouls will provide you with a touch of the warm nostalgia, while introducing new viewers with the tropes that make the series work so well.

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As you may have surmised from the title of the DVD (or my previous post about the collections upcoming release), this release contains 12 other episodes of horrific hijinks spanning decades of the shows existence, many of which I vividly recall watching as a young cartoon lovin’ creature. In particular the episodes “The Demon of the Dugout” and “The Ghost That Sacked the Quarterback” set me adrift on the gentle, sun dappled waves of an ocean of nostalgia, and apparently I have forgotten not a single word of the theme song for 1976’s “The Scooby-Doo Show”, but “The Warlock of Wimbledon” and “The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face” are my stand out favorites in this collection. “The Warlock of Wimbledon” is an episode that I had a vague recollection of from my youth, but viewed through adult eyes it amazes me how much it brings to mind the films of Pete Walker, in particular The Comeback (both were released in 1978 and both feature a celebrity staying in a mansion with supposed supernatural goings-on) Although I’m 100% certain that this was not the intent, it’s awesome all the same! “The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face” on the other hand has always been one of my all-time favorites due to Alex Toth’s truly incredible design for the villain of the piece; a whip wielding pirate in an iron mask riding mechanical sharks…in the haunted world of Daniel XIII it simply doesn’t get much better than that fiends!

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So, to sum it up, this collection is great to both introduce new viewers to the creepy and colorful world of Scoob and his pals, as well as a way to take a quick sentimental trip through the aether of memories past for those of us that want to feel a bit of that ol’ Saturday morning magic!

“Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales – Field of Screams” can be purchased here!

Childhood Rituals: Watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse

It’s Saturday morning. Though we hate getting up at 6 or so during the week so we can go to school, this is different. This is Saturday…OUR time. First on our agenda ? Grab a big bowl of the sugary-ist cereal that we can find and–ZOOM–…Into the living room and stake a claim in the nearest chair or simply plop onto the floor right in front of the tv. Cartoons often repeated the same plots and character types over and over again, but did we care ? No. They were fun and, best of all, had nothing to do with school. One of the best shows that I remember from childhood is Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

What is it about nostalgia that makes us feel so good ? Our entertainment was oft times simple. But we were kids. We didn’t care. Sometimes, we wanted to be like our older brothers and sisters and so, watched whatever they watched. But every now and then, something caught our attention, something that we felt was just ours. It could’ve been something as simple as a cartoon. Or, in this case, a tv show.

Nothing made us happier as a kid than Saturday morning. After suffering through school all week, we just wanted to veg out in front of the tube with our friends. We’d go on adventures with the Gummi Bears, solve crimes with Inspector Gadget, or enter a strange and wonderful world of mirth and amusement. This world was Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse was a strange show. It wasn’t action, it wasn’t animation, it wasn’t…..it wasn’t really a show you could classify as anything other than pure fun. It had bright colors, odd situations, and puppets for the kids. And it had subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, moments and jokes for the adults. This was a rare occasion where both kids and adults could like the same show.

The star of the show was a tall, gangly, man-child named Pee Wee.

The huge, red leather door would swing open and Pee-wee would enter a kid’s biggest dream ; a big room filled with all sorts of toys and games. Pee-wee steps up to a robot made from a jumble of a record player, typewriter, and junk, unplugging the robot from the wall. With a flick of a switch, the robot, Conky, whirrs to life.

As he does every episode, Pee-wee asks for the secret word. Conky does a spastic dance and a card or strip of paper slides from a slot in his (or was it her?) front. Pee-wee reads the word, the mention of which is an indication for everyone to scream.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse is so odd. But I think that’s what we loved about it as kid. There were tiny little claymation dinosaurs that lived in a hole in the walls. The window, flowers, and the clock spoke. The food in the fridge was alive…which really makes you wonder what happens to them when Pee Wee starts to makes snacks. There was a speaking Pterodactyl, a speaking cow, and countless other strange sights and sounds…including a part of the floor that would lift up and talk ! The Christmas special is even more strange. Pee Wee makes an entire room out of the seemingly hundreds of fruit cakes people give him.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse is the perfect kids shows ; loud, colorful, and pretty much nonsensical. But it is great fun.