I think it’s safe to say that parental guidance and political correctness was not really something anyone paid attention to in the 1980s or 1990s. I’m gonna put it out there that in fact… nobody actually gave a shit and I can’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing! The logic was generally thus: if you’re hurt or offended or both… SUCK. IT. UP! (Followed by a barrage of abuse like “stop being a pussy!”) I grew up watching a lot of martial arts and action films on VHS that were full of violence, nudity and the F-bomb being dropped throughout the dialogue. Some of these movies were amazing but seriously full on. I remember watching Blood Sport starring Jean Claude Van Damme and witnessing the character Chong Li casually snapping a dude’s neck.
Despite the uncensored “stop crying… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” attitude we all had to popular culture in the 80s and 90s, the media we consumed was apparently deemed not quite full on enough… because some smart ass figured, “Do you know what would be an awesome idea… to take ultra-violent, twisted franchises and create kid friendly cartoons!” Genius.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom 1986
He’s an ex-soldier with violent tendencies who fought in Vietnam… aaaand has a touch of PTSD after watching all his pals being horrifically tortured and killed. Throw in some giant guns and what could possibly go wrong here?! So the next logical step for a certificate 18 film was children television because ya know… kids love nightmares!
Police Academy 1988
This film franchise was a classic example of “Please for the love of god stop making sequels!” especially once we got to around Police Academy 17! However, the first movie is definitely a laugh out loud iconic movie, full of inappropriate jokes, smutty behaviour and some fruity language. So sure, making a cartoon from this slapstick-nervous laughter-formula of outrageousness simply screams all kinds of child friendly yes. Clearly.
Conan the Adventurer 1992
I know what is totally suitable for kids… a cartoon based on a movie where we see decapitations and a crazy sex scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a witch! But lo and behold, Conan was made into a caricature of kiddie friendliness… and we all just got on board because nonsensical development of a mental film into cartoony fun… is a thing!
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm 1996
When this video game was released in 1993 on the SNES and SEGA Mega Drive, there was panic on the streets! And by panic on the streets, I mean our parents were all of a sudden concerned for our wellbeing and young impressionable minds. (Where was this outrage and distress when I was allowed to stay up watching intense brutal Kung-Fu movies…on a school night?!) Mortal Kombat is renowned for its ultra-violence of bones crunching, neck snapping, internal organs ripping carry on. The film itself also depicted scenes of impaling’s and general ridiculous fatalities. So naturally what would come next is the animation series… because associations to death and gore is a lesson all children need to know immediately!
This cult classic film is still so bloody good! It’s mainly the dark humour and glorious special effects that pushes my buttons. However, Beetlejuice is not exactly the greatest role model for young kids. Yet they made this Tim Burton film with layers of wild supernatural fantasy and horror into an animated series. I mean, Beetlejuice is a crude, pervy, poltergeist… so fair play lads for actually getting away with this!