Once upon a time, Saturday mornings consisted of getting up early and watching four-hour blocks of cartoons. With the entertainment ranging from superheroes to “Smurfs,” a favorite of many children was a cowardly “Great Dane” and his four teenage human friends solving supernatural mysteries. Premiering September 13, 1969, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. gang are still having adventures to this day. However, it’s the iconic original shows – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, The New Scooby-Doo Movies and The Scooby-Doo Show – that produced a slew of fear inducing monsters and g-g-g-ghosts that remain prominent in many of those children’s – now adults – minds.
Each episode of the program took the teens – Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers – along with Scooby – to a location – abandoned amusement parks, concert halls, ski slopes – and set up exactly what they were good at solving: a mystery. On occasion, Scooby’s cousin Scooby Dum or his nephew Scrappy Doo would join the group in their van, the Mystery Machine. In later years, the kids teamed up with celebrities like the Harlem Globetrotters and Sonny & Cher. No matter what, an ominous spook would ruin their day and the caper would ensue. The show included a laugh track to lighten the frightening atmosphere, and the overuse of stating the obvious – “We found a clue.” “Look! It’s a piece of paper.” “It has writing on it!” – gave it an educational edge for children.
To further ease children’s fears, Scooby-Doo villains were always unmasked at the end of episodes. Even with Old Man Smithers stating he would have gotten away with his plan if it wasn’t for those pesky kids, or even the musical montages of chase scenes, the monster incarnations still imparted terror upon kids. It didn’t matter if Shaggy and Scooby were dressed like women – the fact that they had to don disguises in order to stay alive was terrifying. Ok, I may be over exaggerating. But there were plenty of monsters that gave me nightmares. Here is a short list of some of the most memorable
Orange and yellow with jaunting eyebrows over piercing eyes – this guy is out to get the crew, pursuing them with the hissing sound of his electric body. Honestly, the 10,000 Volt Ghost looks like it was drawn by a child, but his famous appearance in the credits of The Scooby-Doo Show makes him one of the most memorable. He’s out to get revenge on the town and the power company after a winter storm that happened some time ago caused his untimely death. His fiery body melts through locked gates and snow as he wreaks havoc. In the end, we find the Mayor of Winterhaven is a jerk that partnered with Mr. Voltner to buy up the town and make millions when selling it for a freeway to be built. They would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for the meddling kids. I personally can hear the sound of 10,000 Volt Ghost’s body if I just think of it – and those eyes and mouth still bother me.
Lifesaving Moment: Everyone balancing on Scooby’s back as he stands on a rope suspending in the air.
The looming green dude has been robbing a bank in the dead of night, never opening a door or window – just walking through the walls. With the group attending a school dance in the barn of a local farm, the Creeper moans through his chase – a montage set to a classic Scooby tune. Of course, the Creeper ends up being the damn bank president, Mr. Carswell who is just a greedy dick. The Creeper is a personally favorite of mine. He’s just a gnarly zombie like character that brings a smile to my face.
Lifesaving Moment: Scooby with a red glove on his head blends in with the chickens in the coop to avoid an untimely death by the hands of the Creeper.
Gene Simmons makeup + Ace Frehley’s costume + wild flaming hair = Freaky. The Phantom seeks out an unfinished song from a missing writer, Tony Signs, which about to be recorded at Decade Records. His gravelly voice is menacing as he haunts the team with his crazed look. We learn that the song he seeks is special because the notes spell his real name. It’s Ace Decade! And he was selling records for his own profit on the black market until Tony Signs found out. Something about the makeup – and memories of seeing Gene Simmon’s spitting blood as a young child – made this one of the most terrifying monsters on the show for me. Even still I get uneasy thinking of him.
Lifesaving Moment: Shaggy and Scooby hide inside a piano, and then take off carrying it on top of them.
Pulsating Glowing Skull + Space Suit = Zoinks. This creepy chap stalks the bunch through an old airfield, leaving glowing footsteps and cackling the whole time with an ominous wooshing noise. This visual was echoed recently on an episode of Doctor Who titled “Silence in the Library”. In the end, of course, it’s just old Henry Bascombe – who’s mad the airfield was going to reopen and possibly take some of his land. Pretty elaborate method of saving property. That insane laugh of the Spooky Space Kook is the most haunting of all Scooby villains in my opinion. It’s incredibly unnerving.
Lifesaving Moment: Scooby and Shaggy dress as pilots and act like mannequins inside a plane to avoid detection.
Ah yes, the Miner Forty-Niner. Though this guy now looks like some fella you could buy pot off of at the local farmers market, back in the day, he was pretty gnarly in a malevolent way. The Miner arrived in 1849 and can’t rest until he finds all of the gold in Gold City. As memorable as he is, the Miner Forty-Niner barely appears in the episode. Ranch caretaker Hank ends up being our villain, wanting to gobble up the oil hidden in the mine. His casual presence is probably why he is scary. Just an old timer, working in the mine, ready to split you with his pick ax.
Lifesaving Moment: Shaggy and Scooby ride down the mine tracks in a cart ala Temple of Doom.
Another monster from the credits, the Man from Mars is actually a bit rare in the realm of Scooby villains in that he, himself, cannot be unmasked – for he is a robot! He’s just a little creation named Charlie that has gone amiss. Stalking through Funland, the kids avoid his death grip only to find that he’s much different than their average mystery. Mr. Jenkins, the caretaker had programmed him to run the amusement park before Charlie decided to go haywire.
Lifesaving Moment: Scooby dresses as a caveman to avoid the robot’s grasp.
Who doesn’t love melty green gooey men? These two haunt the Sugar Plum Candy Company factory every night going crazy and grinding up some goodness. But really, nevermind them. They end up being Sterling Smith and Mr. Crink – who just want the candy factory to make $2,000,000 worth of gold (the real kind) candy bars. This entire episode is really dedicated to making fat jokes about Cass Elliot. Yes, Mama Cass is the owner of the candy factory, and her overweight self is the focus of all humor.
Lifesaving Moment: What luck! After being entangled in enough taffy to cover the kids and Mama Cass, they’re hoisted into the air by an awry forklift and doused in water. Uhh…they started to lose it in later years…
A Mummy goes missing from his tomb, lurking about in hopes of scaring all those he encounters into giving him a very special coin. The coin unlocks a compartment that contains a diamond scarab. Mr. Mummy turns all of those whom he finds to be in his way – into stone! Of course, there are plenty of highjinks along the way for the teens – including dressing as Egyptians to avoid detection and a moment where Scooby is found reduced to rock. In the end, it’s Dr. Najib who had figured out the secret of the coin!
Lifesaving Moment: Scooby actually slamdunks the Mummy into a basketball hoop to capture him and save the day. No, really.
I remember envisioning this lady as the witch in countless fairy tales I read growing up. The ghostly hag goes around turning people into frogs and scaring off villagers. Her techniques also include late night stalking and getting in bed with dogs. Ultimately, Aggie Wilkins is the culprit, creating the witch as a way to scare rivals the Hattfields from the property!
Lifesaving Moment: Velma, Shaggy and Scooby use a joint effort to hop away in a cast iron pot that the witch has tied them up to cook in.
Something about primates can be terrifying for children – and the Ape Man – cartoon or not – was no exception. This dude who is rummaging through a movie set even goes as far as to put on a Scooby mask and play mime games with our canine hero. There is no shame on his part as he opens his mouth of gnarly sharp teeth and bellows at the pals. This guy, no doubt, is a dude in a mask – this time it being Carl, the stunt man. Oh, that a-hole was just trying to sabotage the movie because he wanted to play the lead.
Lifesaving Moment: Shaggy and Scooby are enticed (as always) to save the day by some munchies, including a pot pie with pizza crust, anchovies, and pepperoni.