This Scooby-Doo Halloween special aired once, then never again

Was "The Scooby-Doo Project" too scary for TV?

Image credit: Warner Bros. / Cartoon Network

These days, found-footage horror movies are a dime a dozen. Paranormal Activity, V/H/S, Unfriended, Creep... there's a solid chance that any time you turn on a scary flick that it will start with a character holding a camera and cheerfully recording their friends or family — of course, before everything goes wrong.

But let's time travel back to 1999. A new horror movie comes out, and something is different. It's called The Blair Witch Project, and it changes the landscape of the horror movie.

While only getting a lukewarm reception at the time of release, it became a massive sleeper hit and is credited with reviving the found-footage horror movie craze we still see today. It became such a pop culture phenomenon that it got spoofed by everything from Scary Movie to The Office. (Michael Scott makes a training video titled "The Scranton Witch Project" where he whispers into the camera about the importance of labeling food in the office fridge.)

The waves of The Blair Witch Project even reached the most unlikely place — a children's cartoon.

For Halloween of 1999, Cartoon Network aired a marathon of every episode of the original Scooby-Doo cartoon. Between the episodes, they played small clips of a bigger special —The Scooby-Doo Project.

The Scooby-Doo Project was a 19-minute special, when compiled, that parodied the then-famous horror movie. It opened much like Blair Witch did, with footage of an abandoned Mystery Machine roped off by police tape and a poster of the gang that labeled them as missing.

We're informed that while the gang remains missing, their camera was recovered, and this is the tape.

Warner Bros. / Cartoon Network

What follows is a mix of live-action and cartoon animation that mixes self-aware humor (Velma sighing that she "hates the part with the doors" before the monster does the classic chase between a series of doors; Fred snapping at Velma to get a glasses strap so she'll stop losing them all the time) and unsettling scenes where the special plays the horror aspects very straightforward (Daphne sobbing because they've been lost for a week and are out of food; Shaggy facing the wall in the basement of the Blair Witch house). 

The special itself was very well received by the world of animation and critically was called one of the better Blair Witch parodies. So why has it never aired again, or even received a home release?

There are a few theories.

One is that some distribution issues remain that make it difficult to get the rights to re-air, or put out on DVD/Blu-ray. The most prevalent one, however, is that it was just plain too scary for a kid's network.

While the monster chasing them is pulled from the classic episodes, the blurry handheld camera footage and the dark lighting in a lot of scenes makes it feel very different in tone. And the ending — spoiler alert, if you want to watch it yourself — also follows Blair Witch in the sense that the gang doesn't win. 

Yeah, that's right. They unmask a (live-action) villain, but it turns out there's a real monster, as well. It jumps at the camera, and then the footage stops. The ending informs us that while hundreds of Scooby Snacks have been found all over the woods, the gang is still missing. No happy ending here, kids.

It's an interesting piece of animation history, and especially fun to revisit during the fall season. While we can't watch this on home release yet, people have been kind enough to pull the segments from VHS copies of the airing and upload them. You can watch the special here.

What do you think of this creepy lesser-known Scooby-Doo special?

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raiderhawk55 47 months ago
Sounds great, how can I see this scooby too special.
dmagoon 47 months ago
What do fans of Scooby Apocalypse think of the planned live-action Powerpuff Girls series on the CW, when WB-owned DC Comics pulled the plug on the Hanna-Barbera Beyond comic book line because it "twisted childhood cartoon favorites".
daDoctah dmagoon 47 months ago
Have you seen the retconned 2016 version of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Produced by and starring comedians Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart.

Personally, I'm holding out for a live-action remake of King of the Hill.
Hogansucks1 47 months ago
Early Tex Avery, LooneyTunes, and the Three Stooges were worse for SOME of these children, and for their over protective parents . I get it- but- that’s one of the reasons why we grew up tough and not thinned skinned 😊😊. (Sorry bout that parents) Raise them how you want, their are limitations to certain things with age and what not. That’s just my outlook. 🧐 😊 🤪 🥴
stephaniestavropoulos 47 months ago
For anyone who wishes to relive the experience, or see it for the first time can so. Grab a box or two of Scooby Snax, The Scooby Doo Project can be seen in its entirety on You Tube.
Ok, maybe I need to lighten up-LOL! I will check it out, thanks.😊
MaryAnn 47 months ago
I’ve never heard of the Scooby Doo Project and am left with the feeling that I wish I hadn’t read this article! So, the gang is presumed dead? That’s just wrong.
ZOINKS! JEEPERS! How can you take this seriously?!?! It's only a cartoon. I saw this when it first aired, and found it amusing. The only thing I objected to, is them having Daphne be so upset about there not being any food. The honor of the complaints in that department, should have gone to Scooby and Shaggy Rogers.
Stoney 47 months ago
It had some clever bits, but yeah, it was pretty dark and intense for a kids' network.
Jeremy 47 months ago
I saw commercials of it but I never saw it. One of the things that I do remember about it is when Velma said, "We shouldn't have meddled, we shouldn't have meddled!" I also remember when Shaggy mentioned Scooby Snax and when Fred said that his name was Norville Rogers and Shaggy replied, "It's Shaggy! Like nobody ever calls me Norville!" Everybody, particularly Fred, started teasing him by calling him Norville just after he said that. The other thing I remember is when they approached an old lady with a broom and not-too-good-looking teeth at her doorstep and she said to them, "You kids stay away..." and Shaggy, while traveling inside The Mystery Machine and after visiting her, made fun of her teeth. I think, if I remember correctly, he mentioned something about going to a dentist.
Hogansucks1 Jeremy 47 months ago
Curious? Did Casey Casem voice Shaggy’s character- I wonder ! 😂. “ Zoinks “
MrsPhilHarris 47 months ago
I never understood the fuss about The Blair Witch Project. I found it kind of lame, but then I can say the same thing about Rosemary's Baby and that one with Jack Nicholson in that hotel in the mountains. Can't remember the name of it.
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Moverfan texasluva 43 months ago
I beg your pardon?
texasluva Moverfan 43 months ago
We were bantering in fun about The Shinning. It's all okay
Moverfan texasluva 43 months ago
Oh, good. I figured it was going somewhere, but I got a little lost! (Must've been that left turn at Albuquerque...)
texasluva Moverfan 43 months ago
Yeah that one broke up 4 months ago but was fun. Head on down to hwy 40 and head east towards Texas. If its MrsPhillHarris she's up on BC Canada. The rest I am not sure of. I know that you'll have a lot of driving head of you. Still never too late to jump into a conversation.
BrianMoore 47 months ago
I saw bits and pieces of it. I thought it was clever in some spots.
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