The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Saturday Morning Happy Hour

Gutter Guest
Posted June 3, 2010

police academy 80.jpgRacial epithets. Topless women. Speeches interrupted by blowjobs. Steve Guttenberg.

Doesn’t seem like fodder for a Saturday morning cartoon show. But in the late 80s the film Police Academy, which subjected viewers to such adult situations, spawned an animated series of the same name. Running for two seasons, the series featured the original franchise’s characters–Mahoney, Tackleberry, Hightower, Hooks, Jones, Callahan – if not their voice talents.

As a tot of eight, I’d seen the movies prior to the cartoon, but only the PG-13 sequels. If I’d seen the initial R-rated masterpiece (the original sin), surely it was in some heavily edited televised format. If I *had* seen it in its full glory, I might have wondered how a film with such adult humour, random nudity and prevalent (if somewhat quaint) homophobia was deemed perfect source material for a kids’ show. Who can forget the Blue Oyster Bar, or Mahoney’s immortal maxim, ‘Sleeping is for fags’?

The first thing I noticed just weeks ago, when I watched Police Academy for the first time as an adult, was that Steve Guttenberg was (shockingly) quite attractive as a young man. But my second thought (which emerged while a gum-chewing prostitute undid Lt. Harris’s fly) was, ‘They made a kids’ show out of this?!’

But Police Academy was just one of a trend of cartoons produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s based on very adult films. Even The Real Ghostbusters was inspired by a movie that joked about menstruation, showed ‘a prehistoric bitch’ how one does things downtown and presented a spectre unzipping Ray Stanz’s pants. (This seems a prerequisite for cartoon licensing.)

cartoon collage 250.jpgBut Ghostbusters is a poor example. Especially when studios were producing kids’ programs from Conan the Barbarian, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Robocop cartoons. That any Paul ‘Showgirls’ Verhoeven movie was made into a kids’ show is incomprehensible.

Even Rambo – Rambo! – was turned into a kids’ show: Rambo and the Force of Freedom. Apparently Rambo is ‘liberty’s champion’ and ‘the honour-bound protector of the innocent,’ which you might have missed while watching him tear the Vietcong a new freedom hole. (Watch the trailer for a cameo of G.I. Joe’s Flint as Colonel Trautman!)

The most egregious exemplar of inappropriateness was Toxic Crusaders, a cartoon that ran for (almost) one season and was based on the flagship Troma Studios film, The Toxic Avenger. As Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman has boasted, it’s the only film that both featured a child’s head crushed by a car tire and inspired a kids’ show.

The series attempted to ride the Captain Planet wave of environmental do-gooderism with the Toxic Avenger’s key message: janitors and toxic waste don’t mix. The basic plots of the cartoon and film were similar, with nerdy-janitor-turned-mutated-superhero and his blind girlfriend fighting a roster of villains. They had a few more friends in the cartoon series – NoZone, hobo-turned-dogman Junkyard, two-headed odd couple Headbanger and Major Disaster, a military man with a vegetable rapport – but where the versions really differed was in the viciousness and viscera of Toxie’s justice. In the original film, hands were deep-fried, milkshake stirrers were jabbed into throats and the Mayor’s organs pulled like ticker tape from body, all in ketchupy gore. And often these heinous acts were committed by our homely hero himself.

But what of today? Seems every Saturday morning cartoon is based on some family-friendly manga. It’s high time to bring back adult movies as source material. We can even ratchet things up a notch:

Battle Royale: The Animated Series – Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale begs to made into a Saturday morning cartoon. A class of high schoolers forced to fight each other to the grisly death? There’s already a wildly popular teen book series with the same plot, but our cartoon would eat The Hunger Games alive. And sure, the kids can die off-screen or in large explosions or dramatic falls into water, but the core concept remains. Think of the merchandising – new action figures every year! It’s just like Pokémon, but instead of summoning monsters, Ash and Team Rocket have gotta’ kill ‘em all.

Bad Lieutenant and the Cops of Justice! – either Abel Ferrara’s or Werner Herzog’s film could inspire this 21st-Century Police Academy: The Animated Series. A supercop who doesn’t play by the rules cleans up Empire City, a town run by One-Ton Tony and his rogues gallery of gimmick-laden crooks. Our animated bad lieutenant would have to trade his drug addiction and sexual assault of perps for tamer infractions. Maybe he’d take a sledgehammer to a speeder’s Porsche. But he’d have a crack team of unorthodox lawmen and women at his disposal. (Their names would reverberate in a roll call set to music as the show’s credits ran.)

Inglourious Crumbums – in the animated version, Aldo ‘Hard’ Rayne and his madcap, daredevil soldiers (with some help from ‘Flix,’ a plucky female cinema owner) strike terror into the heart of Schadenfreudland, a generic European dystopia. By committing escalating acts of mischief that enrage and embarrass the dictator of Schadenfreudland, Dr. Götterdämmerung, and his henchman Captain Hans Kaputt, the Crumbums spread freedom to the denizens of Schadenfreudland, one episode at a time.

~~~

Evan Munday is the illustrator the novel Stripmalling, by Jon Paul Fiorentino, and the cartoonist behind a self-published comic book, Quarter-Life Crisis (recently shortlisted for the Gene Day Award for Self-Publishing). His upcoming projects include a young adult novel and a graphic novel written by Elyse Friedman, both to be published in 2011. He is a member of Toronto-based illustration collective SketchKrieg and can be found online at http://idontlikemundays.com and http://sketchkrieg.blogspot.com.

Comments

One Response to “Saturday Morning Happy Hour”

  1. H. Alarcon
    June 20th, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    I agree that it’s hard to imagine how cartoon could have been made from the Police Academy movie series. I hope to read new posts from this blog.

Leave a Reply





  • Support The Gutter

  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

    ~

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

    ~

    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

    ~

    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

    ~

    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

    ~

    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

    ~

  • Spilling into Twitter

  • Obsessive?

    Then you might be interested in knowing you can subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

    -------

  • Weekly Notifications

  • What We’re Talking About

  • Thanks To

    No Media Kings hosts this site, and Wordpress autoconstructs it.

  • %d bloggers like this: