Movie Review: Saturday Morning Mystery (2012, Dir. Spencer Parsons)

Saturday Morning Mystery

Have you ever watched an episode of Scooby-Doo and wondered what a “real world” adaptation of might look like? Not a “live action” one like the films from a few years back, but a version in which the characters fit perfectly into our “reality”, as opposed to adapting it into live action representation of the cartoon universe, with a computer generated Scoob, ghosts, and monsters.

Well, wonder no more, for it has finally been accomplished. Saturday Morning Mystery (also known as Saturday Morning Massacre) is basically an unofficial adaptation of the Scooby-Doo toon, done “real world” style. Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are now Chad (aka Fred, Adam Tate), Gwen (aka Daphne, Josephine Decker), Nancy (aka Velma, Ashley Rae Spillers), Floyd (aka Shaggy, Jonny Mars) and Hamlet (aka Scooby, now a real dog).

During the opening credits, Nancy’s voice-over explains how their ghost-hunting group started out with her and Gwen, and then came Chad and Floyd. Chad’s the “money man,” supplying the cash for their paranormal hunting lifestyle; he also became Gwen’s boyfriend. Floyd’s their gearhead/mechanic/druggie and he just so happens to own a dog that goes where they all go. At some point Floyd and Nancy hooked up, but everything went to hell when Gwen cheated on Chad with, from what I could gather, Floyd. That was then and this is now and things are somewhat back to normal, with some minor animosity on Chad’s behalf.

It’s also stated in that voice-over that the group have been investigating ghosts and paranormal claims for years, but they have never come across any actual spirits. All the haunted abodes they’ve investigated were fronts for illegal operations and all the “phenomena” were faked by actual living, scumbag humans hoping to keep the public in the dark. Chad, we learn, is the only one of the group who believes in ghosts and has a life long dream of actually seeing one.

It’s 1994 and as the movie finally kicks into gear we see them in the middle of an investigation. They see a supposed ghost, but ultimately, and quickly, debunk it. In doing so, they inadvertently expose a child porn ring. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention this “real world” adaptation is R-rated? My bad. Admit it: we’ve all at some point, while watching Scooby-Doo, wondered what it might look like as an R-rated movie.

Between investigations, as they’re hanging out at a diner, a call comes in from a man who wants them to check out his property. Nancy readily accepts the offer and off they go. Once there, they meet up with local cop, Officer Lance (Paul Gordon), who takes it upon himself to fill them in on the abandoned house’s history and give them a tour. Yes, it’s a nasty place, with rumors of Satanism, hauntings, disappearances, and scattered lopped off appendages.

Now, if you had told me the creators of NBC’s The Office had made this movie, I would absolutely believe you. While not strictly being an obvious comedy, the banter and general dialogue very much has a vibe to it that’s reminiscent of that show.

Interestingly enough this movie reminded me of Under The Bed (2012), another flick which I recently reviewed at Cine-ApocalypseSaturday Morning Mystery is distributed by the same company, and like that film, for the majority of the run-time the tone is one way, but in the remaining 20-25 minutes it takes an abrupt shift and becomes something very different. In Under The Bed, the first hour and look of the movie was very reminiscent of Joe Dante/Steven Spielberg PG-13 fare, but in its final act, it turned into an R-rated bloodbath.

Same thing happened here.

One of the things I found refreshing, and rare, was once the carnage kicks in, the actors actually act believably terrified and shocked. Case in point, Chad discovers mutilated remains in the trunk of this car. His first reaction, once it finally sinks in that he’s looking at a hacked up body, is to start puking.

Like the overwhelming level of carnage that was present in the Evil Dead (2013) remake, yet another movie I reviewed, the brutality present in this flick also made me uneasy as well. It’s not remotely as savage as what was on display in Dead, but it was still at a level that knocked me for a loop. At its heart there is nothing remotely supernatural happening in Saturday Morning Mystery, the horror present is strictly the real world kind, and those films have never really been of interest to me. I prefer monster movies as opposed to ones where the monsters are mental defectives doing mentally defective things to normal people.

The first part of the movie sets up the characters nicely, and to a point where you genuinely like them. Maybe not so much with Floyd, since he kind of comes off as a slight douche-dog, but for the most part, when the killings start you’re invested enough to worry. Hell, I didn’t want to see any of them die, and actually thought they’d live to, perhaps, kick off a new kind of franchise.

The only other thing I have to take issue with is how filmmakers “interpret” dead bodies. In reality, as I understand it, they smell like holy hell and it would have been nice if one of the kids had commented on how badly the house smelled, or, perhaps, getting a slight whiff of something before the body in the trunk was discovered. I only bring that up because the terrified acting from the kids was pretty much dead on. I believed they were scared shitless, especially when it came to trying to get across a creaky floored room without creaking the floor and giving their position away. Gwen, I think, even goes into mindless shock for a little while.

Yes, my hats off to the filmmakers for presenting that final grim act so near flawlessly real, which for me was the double-edged sword of this whole movie. I can’t 100% recommend it; unless you’re a die-hard gorehound, but I can 80-85% recommend it to all else. The majority of the movie is pure gold, and I guess if you really think about it, that final act would be a natural R-rated progression of the toony horror of the show. I do seem to recall someone chasing the kids with an ax, here you get to see what that ax would have really did to the kids.

The filmmakers created a nice “real world” plausible homage to all those chase scenes in the cartoon. Do you remember the long hallway scenes, in which the ghost or monster is chasing everyone in and out of rooms, accompanied by funky music? I think if it were Josie & The Pussycats, there’d be one of the Pussycat’s trademark songs playing the background. In this movie, Hamlet chases this strange kid into the house and everyone goes after him, but they all get lost and lose track of one another. The way director Spencer Parsons filmed it, realistically filmed it, reminded me exactly of those classic Scooby-Doo chase scenes.

Saturday Morning Mystery is out now on DVD by XLrator Media, though Amazon is only carrying the streaming version currently, and from what I can tell, only Best Buy has the DVD. The filmmakers via their Facebook page had stated that they hope to get it out on DVD & Blu-ray in 2014.

The transfer is anamorphic and in either a 1.85:1, a 1.78:1 or a 1.77:1 aspect ratio. Hard to tell since its ratio isn’t listed on the DVD. Audio is in English only and at a 5.1 Dolby Digital. There are no subtitles and only the movie’s trailer as an extra feature.

Its original title was Saturday Morning Massacre and if you want to check out their Facebook page, it’s under that title. That title is actually perfect in representing the final act. Saturday Morning Mystery, on the other hand, is perfect for the rest of the movie. I think they should have called it Saturday Morning Mystery: The Final Investigation. I wouldn’t mind seeing prequels of this film covering the other cases they were involved with.

There’s a blurb on the cover that erroneously states, Scooby-Doo Meets The Evil Dead.” There is nothing remotely Evil Dead-ish in this movie. If anything it should read, Scooby-Doo Meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

During the course of this review I’ve managed to process the movie more thoroughly now, and like I did for the Evil Dead (2013) remake, I give Saturday Morning Mystery a shaky thumbs up.

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