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The Story Behind The Lost Scooby-Doo / Blair Witch Parody

1999 was a big year for horror films, as that was the year that The Blair Witch Project was released – and became the most profitable film in history (mostly thanks to its incredibly low budget of $60,000 versus the nearly $250 million it took in). It also kickstarted the “found footage” trend, so if you were looking for someone to thank for Paranormal Activity 5, there ya go.

It was such an immensely huge movie, it completely dominated pop culture for months (back then big pop culture moments lasted MONTHS instead of hours) – and even inspired a very special Scooby-Doo special that aired during a Cartoon Network Halloween marathon of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? And the reason it was so special is that it was never rerun and never released on video, DVD, or any other method of purchase after its initial airing. It was a one time only event – and if you missed it then, you never had a chance to see it again. Until someone uploaded it to Youtube off of a VHS recording.

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Nowadays, it’s not a hard video to track down – there are countless rips of the video across Youtube and elsewhere. The version above is the longest though, as it includes the twist ending that aired separate from the rest of the clip (which is pretty dark – the “unmasked monster” guy is revealed to be a red herring, and there is a REAL monster who attacks the gang…followed by the revelation that their van was found and a search turned up nothing after several days, heavily implying they all died).

What’s really interesting, though, is that this video recently shot to the top of Reddit – and caught the attention of someone who worked on the clip (u/BoskoBoy), who shared a huge array of behind-the-scenes details as to how it came together:

Hey everybody. I was actually one of the writer/producers from the CN On-Air promo department on this one back in ’99. Happy to see how many have fond memories of this. Here’s some backstory: There were three different Scooby marathons scheduled for that October, and three of us were assigned to create individual packaging and promotion for each. When Blair Witch hit huge that August we asked if we could pool our resources to send up this huge pop culture phenomenon everyone was talking about.

After putting together a quick test/proof of concept (Daphne running through the woods) the bigwigs approved the request. Our budget for original animation was tight, which is why he made sure to get all of the characters from the back as part of the package… We hid a lot of lipflap using those shots over and over. And in projects long after this one. Scooby got reused a lot for Cartoon Campaign 2000 and Freddie footage featured prominently during the halftime show of Big Game: Road Runner vs. Coyote. The suburban neighborhood interviews were shot at one of the producer’s parents’ house, (they were both interviewed in the final product) and the forest scenes were shot in one of the other producers’ parents backyard. We’d drive up after work, stage the tents, piles, and sticks, and shoot everything on Mini-DV.

There was a set of bumps not included here for the movie marathon portion of the stunt that we shot at a drive-in just out of town that was about to close for the season. (The Iron Giant was being played there the next night). The live-action Mystery Machine was on a promotional tour of Canada around that time so some of the producers flew up and shot that footage in a day. The press conference was shot in a conference room right off the cafeteria in the middle of a workday. The deputy in the background was played by a programming exec who’s developed a lot of your favorite shows over the last twenty years. And bunch more of us around the office did the voices of the press shouting questions. The voice cast of the Scooby gang was recorded over the phone from LA, and was the same team that was making Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island at around the same time.Everything was put together at Turner Studios in Atlanta. We were somewhat panicked when everyone started doing Blair Witch parodies for fall TV premieres on other networks, beating us to air, but thankfully the press started crowning our take as one of the better ones when our stuff started airing in October. Everything was written and produced to air in sketch form within intro and outro bumps across the programming stunt, with an eye toward it still making sense when cut together after the fact. Because of how well it turned out, programming agreed to play the whole thing strung together at the end of the last night. This compilation ended up getting nominated for and winning an ASIFA Annie Award for best short form program (I think that was the category) at that year’s ceremony. The Iron Giant did well that year, too.

Certainly a highlight for a lot of us working at CN On-Air Promotions at the time, and it was an amazing era to work there. This is the same group that brought you Shorties, Groovies, Big Games, Cartoon Network Responds, CCF, and a whole bunch of other stuff that seems to have found some new love here on Reddit over the past few months. We still keep in touch, and we all appreciate it. Good times. And a previous post was right… This was never officially released on home video. But I can tell you that three DVD volumes of the best of CN On-Air were produced for posterity and they’re a treasure trove of the classics. Try to track those down if you’re a fan of this stuff. I’ll keep my eyes open for my old copies. Thanks again for remembering everybody. Means a lot.

 


Also, it’s just a pretty great little video, even if you’re not super-familiar with The Blair Witch Project. It does a great job of skewering that (the map stuff is golden), but it also just has a lot of fun taking jabs at Scooby-Doo tropes. Gotta appreciate the care and creativity that went into this thing that most people never even knew existed.

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