Ferocious 5 sheds light on a whole universe of pop and geek culture connections with bite-size lists. Explore topics, properties, fandoms you never knew existed in this article series on Bunkazilla.
So, you’ve made a hit movie at the box office and want to capitalise wherever you can to keep the money just rolling in? Perhaps you have a different vision for your moderately successful movie? Where can you achieve these things? Why television animation of course!
It’s absolute commonplace that popular family franchises get spin-off television shows. Look at Aladdin, Hercules, Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, it’s part of the animated franchise life. You expect that. But there have been times where adult-focused properties have been retooled and presented as exciting animated cartoons for children on television. This was all the rage, especially in the 80s.
So with this debut edition of Ferocious 5 – we’re going to take a look at some of those adult movies that shifted to animation with varying degrees of success and some of these need to be seen to be believed.
Conan The Adventurer (1992 – 1993)
Before this point, the fantasy hero of Conan had already had two movie outings with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Warrior were undoubtedly bloody violent and adult-only movies so how could this be turned into a cartoon show? Hasbro gave it a go in the 1990s and produced a new vision of the character for Saturday mornings which lasted for 2 seasons with a total of 65 episodes.
The animated show takes a different route with its core story. Conan and his band of warriors must travel to defeat the serpent wizard Wrath-Amon in order to free his family who had been turned to stone. Clearly a bit more fantasy-based than bloody barbarian vengeance.
Departing from the original Conan stories, this animated hero was more in line with cartoons like He-Man. He was a mighty warrior but he had a sense of what was right and wrong. So in terms of interpreting the character for a younger audience, there was very little wrong or out of place.
Plus, in my opinion, that opening theme is a belter!
Police Academy (1988 – 1989)
While it may not have won fans with movie critics, movie audiences loved Police Academy. Police Academy would become a successful comedy box office franchise in America with six of seven movies released in the 80s. What started out as a cheeky, Animal House misadventures of police recruits eventually snowballed into family-friendly affairs by the time it reached its final film Mission to Moscow. I vaguely remember having Police Acamedy 2, 4 and 5 recorded on VHS when I was younger and they provided some slapstick distractions.
But that didn’t stop Warner Brothers from building on popularity by producing a cartoon show and, just like Conan, it ran for two seasons with sixty-five episodes in total. It kept all the key memorable characters like Mahony, Tackleberry, and even angry Captain Harris. However, unlike the films, the academy would be up against regular villains like the Council of Crime. Plus, they also introduced a group of talking police dogs called the Canine Corps – because all cartoons are greatly enhanced with talking dogs.
I remember watching the odd episode on classic CITV Saturday morning shows but nothing about it distinctively stood out once you got past the decent cartoon caricature of the familiar cast. If you fancy revisiting or experiencing the show, you might be able to find the dvds on eBay.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom (1986)
No, you’re not reading this incorrectly. Yes, that Rambo. John Rambo, the lonesome Vietnam veteran was turned into a Saturday morning cartoon as leader of The Force of Freedom against the forces of General Warhawk. In case you were wondering – this has never happened in the Rambo films – so this version was indeed for the kids.
I don’t remember watching the show when I was younger but I have had a little look at clips you can find on YouTube. It’s a very bizarre G.I Joe clone – with Rambo meeting magicians, battling evil catwalk models, fighting animal chimeras, riding giant rockets, wrestling ghost dogs and even meeting Santa Claus. Don’t believe me, take a look at the video below.
If there was any movie that was greatly out of place as a children’s cartoon show – Rambo certainly was one of them. It’s astounding that 12 episodes even got made.
Clerks: The Animated Series (2000)
It only ran for 6 episodes but the animated take on Kevin Smith’s Clerks had a lot to enjoy. The original cast was back voicing Dante, Randal, Jay and Silent Bob for more shenanigans with the gang in the city of Leonardo. Dealing with brand new malls, a deadly virus outbreak, coaching a little league baseball team and the local fayre were all part of the misadventures.
I am fortunate to own the Region 1 DVD when it was originally released and its a joy to revisit from time to time. My favourite episodes include the audacious idea of doing a mock “clip-show” as the second episode – littered with preposterous flashbacks. But if you can watch any episode, watch the fourth episode where Jay takes the Quickstop to court and things absolutely just spiral out of control with an ending only an external animation company could produce.
Sadly, ABC broadcast the show out of order and didn’t have much faith by cancelling it after airing just two episodes. However, it found a cult audience on the DVD release. If you can find it and able to import it, Clerks makes a nice addition for Kevin Smith collectors.
Out of the films listed here, Clerks seemed the most comfortable in its animated format and was able to keep to its adult fanbase where it could. It could have neatly sit beside popular shows like Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons. But alas, this brief sweet run is all we ever got.
They really liked turning violent actioners into children’s tv in the 1980s, didn’t they?
Lifting the basic premise of the 1987 original movie, 12 episodes charted the adventures of Alex Murphy – a good cop mortally wounded and transformed into the ultimate crime-fighting machine. To its credit, it remained faithful to the core elements of the story.
However, the cartoon outing was one of the many avenues the character was appearing in and these became increasingly more family-friendly from the original movie. Failed live action tv shows, bizarre wrestling appearances with WCW’s Sting and more followed. He even had a second shot at being animated hero with RoboCop: Alpha Command in 1998. As of this year, he’s even featured in a recent UK advert for Direct Line.
Time hasn’t been too kind to Alex Murphy. At least there was the Robocop Vs Terminator game and his recent addition to Mortal Kombat 11 to enjoy.
That’s our list for now. There are plenty more movie to cartoon adaptations out there and we’ll share some more in future editions of Ferocious 5. Let us know your thoughts and share any movie spin-off animated shows you remember.
Until next time, stomp on monsters of culture, stomp on!