Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare Blu-ray Review
Scooby-Doo Camp Scare has an VC-1 encode and is presented 1.78:1.
Warner literally blast this one out of the screen with retina-melting colours that throb with the sort of neon-blazing energy that will make grandma think she's popped the wrong medication. Immediately, you are besieged with achingly intense primaries that punch their way into your mind and turn your subconscious into a livid rainbow. The colour scheme is like a nuclear furnace of intensity but, lest you think that the transfer has been dipped into the heart of the sun, this is all intentional … and it looks incredible. I like it.
The woodland setting and all the scenes top-side are sumptuously captured with lush green and browns. The orange glow of campfires and torches is hot and striking, like Qui-Gon-Jin burning a hole through a bulk-head with his lightsaber. The range of purples and midnight blues is utterly beguiling. But the scenes down under the lake and in the hidden caves are beautifully eerie and spectral with greens, blues and greys. The various shades of blue that illuminate the watery encounters are an alien-esque delight of lighting that bathes the screen and cools it down from the smothering of colour that usually dominates.
Warner's animated material tends to exhibit banding – and it's certainly present here too. But I would have been surprised not to have seen it with all the intensity of the palette on display and the transfer's attempts to smooth over such extreme saturation. It isn't all that bad to be honest, and I've certainly seen worse. Marvel's animated movies exacerbate the effect far more than we see here.
Contrast is excellent … and it would need to be to cope with all the colours and the shading. Blacks levels are equally superb, supplying wonderful solidity, depth and atmospherics to the creepy environs. There is a frequently enjoyed level of three-dimensionality afforded the image, courtesy both of the style of animation, itself, and the strong, robust nature of the transfer that promotes vibrant foreground figures and keeps various banks of detail retreating convincingly into the background.
Detail is sharply rendered, but this is not the sort of animation that wants to reveal anything finite – because there isn't any finite detail to be revealed in the first place. This is broad, boldly rendered and strong-lined. There is no subtlety here. But the smaller elements like eyes, mouths, plants and objects are smoothly held. There is a slight tendency for shimmer, but nothing to get worked up about. Aliasing was often a problem with the older format, but I found little of it here. Smearing, thankfully, does not occur – it would have been a nightmare with this colour scheme. Edge enhancement is minimal, although you may suspect some with the slight penumbras haloing objects, from time to time, resulting from the animation and the lighting effects. And there is no worries from noise reduction – this print is as clean as a whistle and it is meant to be.
Asides from the banding, Scooby-Doo Camp Scare looks fantastic and is the perfect glowing imagery to gather around on Halloween night.
Well, Mystery Inc. hasn't yet discovered lossless sound, so no Scooby-Snacks there, then.
Camp Scare comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that fits the raucous, but broad nature of the story and the visual style. It is nicely up-front and clean and crisp, and it supplies a fair amount of surround activity, though nothing that is really intend to wow you. There is some dynamic flair to the action, though. We do experience the odd panning, front to back, and the occasional spooky effect thrown out behind us. There is even a cool “stinger” wind-effect that rushes from one rear speaker to the other with some fine vigour. Directionality is better than you might have anticipated.
The Woodsman hurls that axe through the air with an agreeable wind-rush too. The bubbles of the lake are issued nicely, which is something that I didn't expect to hear. The Spectre's horrible banshee-wailing is strongly thrust across the soundscape, and we have occasional bursts of scattering debris which the track is able to discern with modest clarity. And things like sinister laughter and screaming are also propelled forth with gusto. Dialogue is always amazingly clear and sharp, although I found I had to crank up the volume just a little more than usual for the dialogue to reach a comfortable and consistent level.
Robert J. Kral's score is quite forceful and exciting and the mix allows it plenty of space to move about. Impacts are full and demonstrative, the sub having a little bit to play with. So, all in all, this is actually quite an enjoyable track. Quite how much difference a fully lossless variation would be is open for debate … but I can't imagine anyone finding fault with this DD incarnation.
We don't get much in the way of supplemental material here, folks. Some of the older releases on DVD had much more stuff, but this BD only carries a Bonus Episode from the new show, Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated, which is nice, and a little problem-solving game for the little'uns called Scooby Doo Camp Stories.
Plus, we get a DVD copy of the film.
Well, I'm a massive fan of Scooby-Doo. It occupies a coveted niche that appeals to young and old alike, and its ability to straddle the “cosy horror” ambience of old Universal creature-features with more modern flair and savvy, and to do so with indelible characterisation, tight and often clever plotting, and an enjoyable balance between smarts and slapstick is, indeed, a rare and delightful bonus. The concept is certainly doing something right – it's been going for decades and fought off many attempts to transform it into something that it isn't.
The feature-length animated movie series could so easily have fallen into the trap of being merely padded-out TV episodes or just been purely lacklustre overkill – but I've loved them all. And Scooby-Doo Camp Scare is one of the most enjoyable and visually inventive. It offers a great selection of nasty villainy, an unusual setting and a surprisingly inspired final reveal.
An incredibly colourful transfer is sure to give you a suntan, but the image is bright and bold and impressive enough to please the fans. Lossless audio would possibly have been preferable, but then the sound design is still given a robust and exciting run for its money from the Dolby Digital mix.
Scooby-Doo hits Blu-ray with back-to-nature thrills and chills that takes in everything from Friday The 13th to The Creature From The Black Lagoon … and it does so in its own imitable way. Great fun and highly recommended to those who love “safe” but inventive horror. Oh, and the kids will enjoy it too.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.49
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