The 1980’s and early 1990’s were an important time for the horror genre. The special effects were at their best, many actors became increasingly more iconic with each appearance, and the films as a whole were brilliant examples of gore and mayhem with just a dash of humor. But somewhere down the line, greedy executives took this as a sign they should start turning these movies into children’s television shows. A few decisions make sense, but some are just a miracle they even exist. And so here are seven cartoons that were inspired by horror movies.
7. Beetlejuice (1989)
Beetlejuice is an animated sequel loosely based on the film of the same name. Although it was developed and executive-produced by Tim Burton, the series has a few interesting differences from the movie. There’s absolutely no appearance or mention of the Maitlands, who were the main protagonists of the film. Beetlejuice is also treated to be much less of a villain, as he becomes best friends with Lydia (whereas in the movie he was a creep who just wanted to marry her). It’s actually a pretty cool series, with plenty of Burton-esque monsters and landscapes that fit in perfectly with his work.
6. Little Shop (1991)
This works more as a standalone adaptation than any kind of sequel. It was based on the 1986 musical Little Shop of Horrors which itself was based on Roger Corman’s 1960 low budget horror film of the same name. In an effort to make the series more suitable for children, the iconic alien plant no longer eats people. The ages of Seymour and Audrey are also toned down to that of young teenagers.
5. Toxic Crusaders (1990)
It’s shocking that this even exists. While The Toxic Avenger, the film this series is based on, follows a superhero – it’s so violent and grisly that it’s often considered a horror film regardless. And to see a film that absolutely horrific and graphic spawn a children’s cartoon is jarring to say the least. Interestingly enough the series follows a trend of environmentally considerate shows like Captain Planet and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. New Line Cinema also nearly greenlit a live-action adaptation which would’ve been equally shocking to see exist.
4. Tales from the Cryptkeeper (1993)
Tales from the Crypt was huge in the 90s. And what do you do with a huge property? Milk it for kids. This particular adaptation is actually an interesting spin on the comics, and although it lacks the blood and gore of the HBO series and films, John Kassir did return to provide the voice of the Crypt Keeper. The series was also a slightly more accurate adaptation of the original comics by including the Crypt Keeper’s two companions – the Vault Keeper and Old Witch.
3. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1990)
After the original 1978 Attack of the Killer Tomatoes film got a successful sequel with Return of the Killer Tomatoes, the studio quickly rushed an animated series into production. The show uses events from both films to create its own storyline. Unfortunately it saw a quick cancellation upon the show’s second season. While the first season had standalone episodes, the second focused on an ongoing arc with inconsistencies from the first season and a new animation style which turned off viewers. It is worth noting though that the new animation style was a result of the show being the first computer animated Saturday Morning cartoon.
2. Teen Wolf (1986)
We all know Teen Wolf has been adapted into the popular MTV series of the same name. But did you know there was a series adaptation in 1986, just a year after the original film? But unlike the MTV series, it followed the film much more closely including the cheesy humor and gags.
1. The Mummy (2001)
This marks the most recent animated series on our list, and it’s based on the Brendan Fraser starring Mummy films. The series follows the O’Connell family as they travel around the world while being chased by Imhotep and his lackey Colin Weasler. It was canceled after two seasons and was the last part of the Fraser Mummy franchise until The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was released five years later.
There’s quite a few animated series that almost got to go into production, but none are quite as baffling as Operation: ALIENS. While there isn’t any footage of the show, there are screenshots from a pilot episode. We get to see a few familiar characters that were also part of the Kenner Aliens toy line. It definitely would’ve been interesting to see how a series about chestbursting aliens and bad ass space marines would have turned out.
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