Ghostblood Is the 13th Ghost of Scooby Doo
The 80s were not a kind decade for puppy-actor turned international superstar Scoobert “Scooby” Doo. Despite the world swinging from his metaphorical nuts (little known fact: Scooby-Doo was actually neutered preemptively in 1968) during the heyday of Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, a massive true-crime thriller series that itself spawned all manner of pretenders – Jabberjaw, Speed Buggy, and Josie and the Pussycats, to name but a few – Scooby’s previously ascendant star was already on a downward trajectory by the end of the sixth incarnation of his hit show, The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries. Longtime co-stars Frederick Herman Jones and Velma Dinkley had left the set, and Scooby’s own time in the spotlight had been usurped by his garrulous young nephew Scrappy. Desperate for a rating spike, Scooby turned to producers Joe Ruby and Tom Ruegger in the summer of 1984 with a desperate and wild bid: a gritty, paranormal re-imagining of the thriller series. Ruby and Ruegger recruited longtime friend Vincent Price and bad-boy child actor Flim-Flam to the cast and began filming in the Fall of ’84. Little did Scooby and the gang realize then that they would unleash one of the most terrifying demons ever to walk the earth, a malevolent phantom that lingers in our mortal plane to this day. At the end of the single season of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, all but one of the specters the gang hunted was caught. That remaining ghoul? Ghostblood.
The premise of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo was simple enough: the gang, now composed of Scooby, Scooby’s asexual life-partner Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, nephew Scrappy, the always plucky jet-setter Daphne Blake, and the volatile Flim-Flam, under the watchful guidance of “supreme warlock” Vincent “Van Ghoul” Price, would explore allegedly haunted crypts in search of genuine paranormal phenomena. The American viewing public, glutted on slasher films during the horror heyday of the 80s, demanded real thrills, and the child-friendly antics of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries just wouldn’t cut it. It was that conceit that cast the new gang upon their maiden voyage to a specific rural community with a history of lycanthropy on the outskirts of Prague. There, in a dank crypt in which the gang hid itself from the deranged townsfolk, Scooby and Shaggy discovered an ornate and foreboding chest: the Chest of Demons, a forgotten relic forged during the height of necromantic activities in Prague during the Middle Ages. The unwitting duo, allegedly hearing bizarre and disconcerting commands in the catacombs (the pilot episode itself is loaded with all manner of EVP’s – electronic voice phenomena – that audio researchers have been unable to decipher), opened the chest. The 13 demons sealed by arcane rites within the chest were once again loosed upon the world.
Show-runners Ruby and Ruegger were thrilled, of course. The supposedly paranormal activity recorded during the pilot was an instant hit with test audiences and lent a scope and motive to the remainder of the show. The producers had their new cash cow and Scooby had his raison d’etre. All the gang had to due was follow up on the folklore and hotline calls – a dedicated phone number was established by the production company so that anyone experiencing genuine inexplicable phenomena could deliver tips to the team – travel to a supposedly haunted destination, and “capture” a few ghosts (and terrific footage) in the process. It all seemed simple enough.
Until the bumps in the night bumped back, that is.
The first few episodes and ghost hunting quests progressed easily enough. The gang traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, San Jose, California, and Ingolstadt, Germany. They explored rickety castles, dilapidated movie sets, and, most famously, the Winchester Mystery House, recovering artifacts soaked in the blood of history and gathering evidence of shadow people and possessed puppetry. Every episode ended with Van Ghoul conducting a cleansing ritual to seal the unleashed specter causing all the thermal tomfoolery and creaks in the walls back within the Chest of Demons. Scooby’s ratings soared; audiences were hooked on the genuinely unnerving footage, and Vincent Price’s attachment to the project lent an air of sophistication and authority to the proceedings. The cast and crew were elated.
Then, just prior to the events of Episode 6, “Ship of Ghouls,” the production took a turn for the worse. Scooby, racked by endless night terrors featuring a bloodstained specter omitting foul auguries about the Doo family, stopped sleeping entirely. His nerves frayed; he became irritable and distant. Shaggy, fearing for his partner’s health, informed the show-runners that they needed to take a break. Ruegger agreed and offered to use the show’s budget to send the gang on a cruise. Little did Scooby and the others know that the next of the thirteen ghosts they sought was allegedly a phantom mariner taken to haunting ships. Van Ghoul, a party to the treachery, convinced Scrappy and Flim-Flam to fuddle around with a ouija board. After the cameras filmed the planchette spelling “O-B-L-I-V-I-O-N,” Shaggy captured footage of Scooby screaming himself awake. The scene Scooby narrated into the camera – dozens of people vivisected on a remarkably similar vessel – chilled his friend to the bone.
The plot worked, however, and the gang captured more terrifying footage before Van Ghoul’s seance broke the spell on the ship. Scooby’s resolve, on the other hand, could not be mended. Though an offer of extra bonuses (and copious amounts of edibles) convinced Scooby to finish two more episodes, the star quit on set immediately after the cleansing ritual at the end of Episode 8 – “When You Witch Upon a Star.” Ruegger and Ruby scrambled to fill the star’s vacant leash, recruiting affable but oafish southern actor Bernie Gumsher, but it was clear the production was in trouble. Even worse, the remaining stars were experiencing nightmares and personal frights of their own. The normally loquacious Scrappy and Flim-Flam spoke little to each other, their eyes heavily bagged from evident exhaustion. Daphne developed an eating disorder, often disappearing mid-shoot to vomit in the corner of whatever crypt they were exploring; the generally jovial Shaggy grew sullen and combative, often bursting out in guttural diatribes he would then attribute solely to “the other.” Bernie, despite his best efforts, just couldn’t seem to rouse the gang’s spirits the way Scooby could.
It was only thanks to Vincent Price’s meddling that Scooby was convinced to return to finish Episode 9 “It’s a Wonderful Scoob.” The would-be warlock showed the star footage of his friends and colleagues cracking up, ensuring Scooby that the only way to end their torment – and, as importantly, his own – was to finish the task and seal the final demons. Scooby returned to steel his friends’ mettle and close out the ritual in Episode 9. “Ror retter ror rorse,” he told his friends, “re rave ro rinish ris.”
Unfortunately for Scooby, the end was some ways away. After two more successful episodes (that nonetheless taxed the gangs’ already tormented spirits), disaster struck. Episode 12, “The Ghouliest Show on Earth,” forced the gang to confront a deranged fan who professed himself the “Supreme Master and Intellect of Demonology” while on set at a supposedly haunted and derelict carnival. The Professor’s meddling caused the gang to inadvertently botch their cleansing ritual, seemingly unleashing all of the captured spirits from the Chest of Demons back into the ghostly big-top. Behind the scenes footage reveals that bedlam ensued. Forensic analysts to this day are unable to explain all of the ghastly phenomena captured on film: faeirie fires, flying furniture, audible voices, electronic disturbances, stigmata, and worse. Daphne captured Flim-Flam’s eyes rolling back into his skull while the young actor chanted “Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, tolle corpus Satani!” backwards with multiple voices. Thankfully for the rest of the crew, Scooby and Van Ghoul acted quickly, finishing an even more powerful, thirteen-pointed magick seal and returning all of the unleashed specters to the Chest of Demons.
The poltergeist activity ceased, but the producers could no longer ignore the gravity of the undertaking. Only by reminding the gang that one demon remained could they convince Scooby and his colleagues to persist for one more episode. Unfortunately, the thirteenth episode would ultimately be the last of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.
At some point during the filming of the thirteenth episode, things went horribly awry. While investigating a purported miracle – bleeding walls! – on an abandoned set in a remote filming location somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, various cast members disappeared one-by-one. First Scrappy vanished somewhere near an old well on the edge of the set; days later, when officers were called in to investigate the scene, they found only blood in the bottom of the well. Flim-Flam was last spotted investigating the master bedroom of the large house on the estate. Officers found a tattered mattress coated in gore, but no body was ever found. Shaggy and Daphne both wandered out into the forest surrounding the estate one night during the film, both allegedly called into the woods. When Scooby, the only remaining cast member, called Van Ghoul to help him conduct a ritual, he talked in circles, stammering between tears about the “reyes rin rhe ralls.” When Van Ghoul arrived, he found no trace of Scooby or the others but reported later during a polygraph test that he could feel eyes all around him, “endlessly googling and rattling.” He fled the scene immediately and retired from acting shortly thereafter.
After the police investigation uncovered all manner of strange evidence but no bodies, the case grew cold. The producers at Hanna-Barbera canceled the season immediately and refused to speak of the disappearances to reporters. Ruegger and Ruby were forced to appear before court in a trial similar to the Cannibal Holocaust controvery of five years prior, but the studio was able to suppress footage from Episode 12, and the court was unable to produce sufficient evidence to prove malfeasance. Although suspicions rose when a new Scooby-Doo show appeared, a reboot starring a puppy child actor as a Pup Named Scooby-Doo, no criminal charges were ever filed. The Chest of Demons was sealed away in a police storage locker, and a memorial was held for the missing actors. All leads ran as dead as the spirits within the chest.
Then, early in 2018, a mysterious MP3 appeared on torrent sites. This audio file, titled menacingly Honey, I Raised the Dead, contained metadata that seemed to link it to the abandoned Scooby-Doo show from December 7th, 1985. Online investigators and true-believers quickly dissected the audio files, uncovering all manner of strange, ghastly EVPs and hair-raising metal sounds. Now, you too may listen. At your own peril.