Bear with me here.
I love the old Scooby Doo cartoon shows from the late 60s and early 70s. I find them entertaining and they kick a certain ‘Saturday morning/breakfast cereal/no school today’ nostalgia button that few other things can. Over the years I’ve found I’m not alone in this regard and have met a number of folks of a similar age that also love Scooby and the gang. And one of the things all fans of the show can agree on is that everything when to shit when they introduced Scrappy Doo. The addition of that pain in the ass pup was enough to make even the most die hard Scooby fan gag on their Cocoa Pebbles. Annoying, loud, stupid and full of that most dreaded of things- spunk! As soon as a character in a cartoon can be called ‘spunky’ you know the sucker was thought up by committee. I imagine the scene from THE SIMPSONS in which it was decided to add a dog character to the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons was pretty much exactly how it went. All that was missing was the comment to ‘Rastify him by 10%’.
Needless to say no one liked Scrappy and no one ever will. He’s a soulless corporate creation that might as well have a trademark tattooed on his hindquarters. Of course the tip-off that he was created for the wrong reasons was that he was not a dog- he was a puppy. Whenever someone is trying really hard to push your buttons and they know what they have might be a hard sell they pull out either kittens or puppies. Puppies and kittens are adorable and cute and just the sight of them playing or even just walking around can melt the heart of all but the most curmudgeonly people. So it is that as soon as I see a puppy in any advertisement I immediately suspect that the thing being sold is of dubious merit. Anyone else remember Nixon and Checkers?
That brings us to ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA. I know, I know. How could I have thought this was going to be a good movie? Well- I didn’t! I thought it would be stupid/funny and maybe entertain me. And I was right. It’s never believable for a minute with Russian soldiers in Romania unearthing the Dracula family crypt and accidentally releasing the vampiric clan’s blood drinking pet dog. It’s a silly film that’s played very straight and might have pulled off some modest chills in spite of its ridiculousness until it makes its most amusing blunder- Vampire Puppy!
That’s right! About halfway through the film a cute little pup that has been bitten by Zoltan and died of his wounds becomes a vamp himself. The problem is that there is no way on Earth to make a puppy look anything other than adorable. So when the little German Shepard pup pushes his way out of his shallow grave and wags his tail toward the camera there can be only one sane response- wild laughter. He’s just so cuddly you want to reach into the screen and play with the evil little ball of undead fur! Needless to say, the concept of the Vampire Puppy was one that should have been thrown out early in the writing stage on this project unless they had decided to go for comedy. Sadly there’s no proof of that in the finished film. Unless you count the sight of Michael Pataki in full Bela Lugosi evening wear as he briefly plays Dracula in a flashback. Now that was funny!
So as this silly little slice of 70’s cheese wound to a close I was amused by a moderately well animated sequence that played over and over again in my mind’s eye. Picture a wild eyed Shaggy holding down Scrappy Doo as Scooby drives a stake through his chest. After which Velma chops off the pups evil smiling head while Daphne dances naked in the spray of canine blood and Fred video tapes the entire scene.
Or would that have been too over the top?