Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014)

Doo not miss this Scooby/WWE mashup

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery

Vince McMahon and the employees of his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) enterprise have faced a great many challenges over the years. There have been steroid trials, a high death toll amongst performers and competition from other sports entertainment companies. One thing Mr. McMahon has not had to deal with was a blood thirsty ghost bear. Thanks to the newly released direct-to-home video flick Scooby- Doo! WrestleMania Mystery however, McMahon can now say that he has faced and overcome all possible challenges.

Scooby and his owner/best pal Shaggy are enjoying a night of hijinx, playing the latest video game offering from the WWE. After vanquishing a foe, they move onto the bonus level, where the game format inexplicably changes from wrestling, to a Dance Dance Revolution-style rhythm challenge. When Scooby achieves a perfect score, he is greeted with a video message from WWE head honcho Mr. McMahon, informing him that he has won a trip to WrestleMania, which is taking place in WWE City.

WWE City? Yes, in the world of Scooby Doo, WWE is not a traveling show, but its own city, complete with not only an arena, but training facilities, and all you can eat buffet restaurants. If Vatican City can exist, then why not a WWE City. The residents of both cities have their own J.C. which is central to their existence. The WWE’s version is their top star, and one of the heroes of this story, John Cena.

Scooby and Shaggy are eager to travel to WWE City, but their friends need a little arm-twisting, and not the kind that the WWE superstars like to do. Fred agrees so he can snap some photos with his fancy new camera. Velma decides to go so she can compare the WWE to ancient gladiatorial society. Daphne is adamant that she will not go, but changes her tune after taking a gander at the aforementioned John Cena.

So Scooby and pals go to WWE City, enjoy WrestleMania, and everything goes off without a hitch, right? Wrong! You see, WWE City is being terrorized by a ghost bear. Long ago, it was not uncommon for wrestlers to have matches with bears. No, this is not a wacky idea dreamed up for the purposes of this animated film. This actually used to happen. The site that would eventually become WWE City was once host to a match between a masked Mexican wrestler name Sin Cara Grande, who overcame the odds, and defeated the bear. Now after all these years, the bear is back – this time in ghost form, to seek vengeance.

Mr. McMahon is very worried about the bear. Not because he is concerned about the welfare of his fellow WWE City residents, but because he is afraid that something will happen to the extremely valuable WWE championship belt. So, after hearing of the legendary exploits of Scooby and pals, he hires them to be protectors of the belt. But Scooby and Shaggy find themselves in deep Doo Doo when the belt goes missing, and all signs point to Scooby being the culprit.

Justice is not dealt out in a courtroom in WWE City, but rather in the wrestling ring. Scooby and Shaggy must earn their freedom by competing against the WWE’s scariest performer, the nearly seven-foot-tall Kane. In the immortal words of Scooby, “Ruh-roh!”

Along with the voice work of Scooby regulars such as the Matthew Lillard, Mindy Cohn and the legendary Frank Welker, a host of WWE superstars are along for the ride, including John Cena, Kane, Triple H, AJ Lee, Sin Cara and The Miz.

Scooby Doo has had some incredible encounters over the years with stars such as Sonny & Cher, Don Knotts and KISS. Nothing has come close however to the magic created when Scooby first set his four feet onto WWE soil. Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery is a delight from start to finish. I Scooby-Dooby-Doo recommend that you download your digital copy from Amazon or iTunes, and then also purchase a physical DVD as well. It is important to have a backup, as watching Scooby over the years has taught me that people are always stealing things, and there might not be some meddling kids to prevent them from nabbing your copy of this excellent film.

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Santa Claus

Santa Claus (1959)

Santa vs. Satan showdown Yuletide classic

Santa Claus

“He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town”
“He lives in outer space
He’s abducted children of every race…
Wait, what???!”

There have been countless depictions of Santa Claus in film over the years. I’d reckon there have been more Santa films than Saw and Paranormal Activity installments combined. Everyone from Tim Allen to Whoopi Goldberg has had the opportunity to don the red suit. But there has never been a Santa quite like the one shown in the film I will be taking a look at this week, appropriately titled Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is a Mexican film released way back in 1959. Perhaps due to the fact that it is not a Hollywood production, certain Christmas film conventions are thrown by the wayside. For example, Santa is usually a resident of the North Pole. Well, not in this film. Here Santa lives in space. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more magical, he gets the E.T. treatment.

Elves are usually a staple in Santa stories, but are nowhere to be found in this movie. Instead, Santa is shacking up with Merlin The Magician and children from nearly every nation on Earth. We learn this in the opening moments of the film, as each group of children is introduced, while Santa enthusiastically plays a song native to their country on his organ. It’s like the opening ceremony of the Olympics, only longer. Also his reindeers are not living breathing animals, but are mechanical facsimiles, operated by the turn of a magic key.

The fun and frivolity ends when Santa learns of a plot by Satan to turn children from nice to naughty. Satan has sent his assistant Pitch to Earth to tempt children to commit acts that will result in them getting nothing but a lump of coal in their stocking. Luckily most of the children take the high road, perhaps because they believe Santa is watching. And they are correct in that assumption. Santa has a large mechanical eye that he uses to spy on all of the Earth’s children. Thanks to his buddy Merlin The Magician, he also is able to become invisible, and is in possession of magic dust that puts children to sleep. I’m having some serious reservations about taking my children to get their picture taken with this guy at the mall in a few weeks.

One child in particular stood out to me in the film: a little girl named Lupita, despite being quite poor, refuses to give in to Satan, even though she could land the doll she covets so dearly by doing so. Actually she wants two dolls, one of which she says she will give to Baby Jesus. Sadly, Jesus is never shown in the film, as I’m sure he would have also been given a complete character makeover. Perhaps in this world, Jesus is a two-foot tall robot from the planet Xargot who speaks only in haiku form.

Tired of being foiled at every turn by Santa, Pitch has one last trick up his sleeve. Santa may have access to the world’s greatest magician, more gadgets than James Bond and legions of loyal children, but that’s not going to help him when he comes face to face with a barking dog! I’ve always referred to canines as the Devil’s beasts, it is nice to see my opinion seconded. Will Christmas be ruined forever, or does Santa have enough magic in his sack to overcome the odds? I’ll leave it to you to find out. The whole film is available on YouTube, just type “Santa Claus 1959” and you will be able to watch it in English or Spanish.

Santa Claus is arguably Mexico’s greatest and least harmful export. Sure, the creative team took some liberties with character of Santa, but I feel it was time to change things up, and make Santa more modern. I mean, it’s 1959, people – the times, they are a changin’. So open up your mind, watch this film, and I guarantee you will have a Feliz Navidad.

Vampire Dog

Vampire Dog (2012)

Vampire Dog’s bark, bite equally good

Vampire Dog

Halloween is upon us. As an avid cinema fan, this is one of my favourite times of year. There are so many spooktacular films to watch, about chainsaw-wielding maniacs, brain-munching zombies and, of course, 600-year old vampire dogs. And that last genre is celebrated in the film I will be taking a look at this week, Vampire Dog.

For the slim minority of Interrobang readers who have yet to see Vampire Dog, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. A teenage boy named Ace and his mother move to a new town after the mother lands a job as a music teacher. Moving and starting at a new school are generally big adjustments, but even more so in this case. Despite being a talented drummer, Ace cannot perform in front of others, and ends up making a fool of himself the first day at his new school when he tries to show off his percussion skills. Lesson to the kids out there: don’t try.

Ace’s abilities could sure come in handy, as the school is earmarked to be closed, unless they finish first in a battle of the bands competition. There is a school on my street that has been fighting off closure for years. Instead of holding rallies and getting people to sign petitions, maybe they should just teach the kids there to play some damn instruments.

But this movie isn’t called Vampire Teen Drummer. It’s Vampire Dog, so I should mention something about Ace’s fourlegged friend Fang, voiced by Norm Macdonald. Fang, originally from Transylvania, is passed down to Ace from a distant relative. Unlike most dogs that can simply sniff other dog’s hindquarters, this one has some incredible skills, including the ability to talk. We learn that one of his previous owners fought the legendary vampire Vlad the Impaler, and while trying to save his master, Fang himself was bitten.

Now if a 600-year-old talking dog can’t inspire you, I don’t know what else will. And that’s just what Fang does for young Ace, giving him the confidence to stand up and shine. Norm Macdonald is famous for his ability to make even the most mundane material humourous with his delivery, so you can only imagine how funny he is in this one when given A+ material.

Macdonald is one of my all-time favourite celebrities. However, as brilliant as he his, his career has not soared to the heights it should have. It has been one setback after another. In the mid-1990s, he was in the midst of a terrific run as the Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Live when he was unceremoniously canned. He went on to star in some very funny television programs, The Norm Show, A Minute With Stan Hooper and Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, all of which were axed in short order. But the darkest hour is just before dawn, and after landing the role of the voice of a vampire dog in a direct-to-home-video film, Norm’s career is sure to reach new heights.

The creative team behind Vampire Dog combined the best elements of The Twilight series, School of Rock and Citizen Kane. The result is a treat that does the trick for anyone looking for a film the whole family can watch together this Halloween season.