Early today I published news that actor Sylvester Stallone is currently working on a new Rambo movie – the fifth in the ultra-violent action franchise. During the course of the post I mentioned that the Rambo series was (in the past) responsible for a children’s cartoon – something which is frankly a bit bizarre when you consider just how brutal the movies are.
But Rambo isn’t alone – in fact there are many adult-orientated movie franchises out there that have been turned into kid’s cartoons. This post takes a look at eight, including the aforementioned Rambo ‘toon.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom
Produced by Ruby-Spears Enterprises and based on the first two Rambo movies – as well as David Morrell’s book, First Blood – Rambo: The Freedom Force reworked the story for children, removing all of the blood and guts and stuff. The show ran for 65 episodes and included the voice talents of Neil Ross, Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, Alan Oppenheimer and James Avery.
Released in 1987, Robocop is a fantastic yet brutal science fiction action movie from director Paul Verhoeven – the same director behind Basic Instinct (1992) and Showgirls (1995). Robocop told the tale of a police officer violently killed in the line of duty and then revived as a cyborg law enforcement officer.
So, how was this transformed into a cartoon? Simple really, the sci-fi elements were cranked up, bullets were replaced with laser beams and swear words became a strict no-no. Marvel Productions and Orion Pictures Corporation were behind the 12-episode series.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Written and directed by John DeBello, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a 1978 low-budget comedy horror which spoofed the disaster and monster movie genres with a story about mutated killer tomatoes. The sequel – Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) – was more of the same, only with a slightly more adult edge and an early appearance from George Clooney.
So which movie was the animated series based on? Yep, you guessed it – the more inappropriate of the two!
Retaining the name from the first movie, but borrowing the plot from the second, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes hit TV screens in September 1990, once again courtesy of Marvel Productions. The show ran for two seasons and… well.. was pretty fun actually.
Once again we can thank Marvel Productions for this one – an animated series based on The Little Shop of Horrors movies. Simply known as Little Shop, the cartoon ran for one season, lasting 13 episodes and focused on the adventures of Seymour and his plant, now known as Junior (the plant is known as Audrey Junior & Audrey II in the two Little Shop movies).
Although Junior still liked to eat meat, the cartoon side-stepped the man-eating characteristics of the plant and toned down some of its sass in order to make the material acceptable for kids. The result was a rather bland show that was pretty forgettable at the time and barely remembered now.
What do you do with a slightly saucy comedy about police officers? You turn it into an animated series of course – what else?!
Comprising 65 episodes, Police Academy: The Series was a cartoon continuation of the Police Academy movies and featured characters such as Sweetchuck, Hooks, Hightower, and Jones. The series was broadcast between 1988 and 1989 and ran for two seasons.
Perhaps the most bizarre movie-to-kids cartoon conversion of them all has to go to this one – Toxic Crusaders, an animated show about a group of hideously deformed creatures of superhuman size and strength. The show was based on the cult film, The Toxic Avenger (1984), which if you haven’t seen it is loaded with violence and bad language and is most certainly not for kids!
The extreme violence of the movie was of course jettisoned at once, however the gross-out appeal of the lead character was ramped up to eleven in order to make kids get on board. A bunch of supporting characters were then tossed into the mix and a great toy line was added to make this 13-episode series a decent one.
Tales from the Cryptkeeper
Based on HBO’s bloody horror series Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Cryptkeeper was an animated children’s show offering up a watered down variation of the bloodcurdling parent show. Tales from the Cryptkeeper took a considerably less macabre tone than the material that spawned it but was popular enough to run for 39 episodes, spread out across three seasons.
Oh and John Kassir, the voice of the Crypt Keeper in the live-action show, reprised voice over duties for this animated offering. Not bad. Not bad at all.
And finally Swamp Thing, the DC/Vertigo character – and star of two live-action movies and a live-action TV show – was also turned into an animated series. A very short animated series, lasting just five episodes.
The adult themes of the movies were once again removed, while the gross-out aspects of the characters were played up.
Did kids love it?
Probably not, but when did that ever matter when it came to kids cartoons of the early ‘90s? *Cough* Hammerman *Cough*
Incidentally, back during the early ’90s, 20th Century Fox worked on an animated series based on the Aliens movies. The series – Operation: Aliens – never made it to air, but if it had then it most certainly would have made it onto this list.
Oh, if only.