I was 11 when Blade Runner came out, and even though it was a '15' I begged my parents to let me see it, because it had Han Solo in it, and was a sci-fi film, and they got so sick of me moping around the house, and howling in my sleep, that they caved.
For some reason, they decided that dressing me in a red turtleneck would make me look more like a 15 year-old (remember all the teenagers in the early-80s in their red turtlenecks? 'Rednecks' the media called them - 'The Redneck Menace'... No?). Sceptical as I was, it apparently worked, as my father and I made it into the film with no questions asked.
Of course, for an 11 year-old, Blade Runner was deeply disappointing; nothing like Star Wars, and with long, boring conversations about what you'd do if you found a turtle on its back in the street. Rubbish.
And there weren't even any toys out for it, even though it starred Han Solo.
Which seems strange, as almost every other movie of the era - 18-rated or not - had its own range of toys. And here are ten of them.
Basically: position The Car at the top of the ramp, and - if it rolls down on your turn - you lose or win dependent on how much debris is knocked out of its path, or something. Doesn't matter. Still, that's all well and good, but in the movie that debris was usually made out of living, breathing, people, or police cars. Le-pompt! Quelle folie! Le grande brrm brrm boom!
You can't even argue that they were planning to aim the game at adults, given the couple of cackling, pre-pubescent psychopaths in the marketing material.
"Let's squish us some pedestrians, Fanwadd."
"My name isn't Fanwadd. It's 'Mr Document'."
Inappropriate it may have been, but at no point did The Car Game appear to incorporate the scene in which - according to IMDB's content advisory page - "A boy draws his teacher naked. Her ass is seen but no genitalia or boobs."
I remember seeing the remarkable 18" Alien figure on a high shelf in a local toy shop, and thinking it was kind of cool - even though I didn't really know what it was. Obviously, I hadn't seen the movie at that point - I was eight or nine years old for pity's sake, and it was rated 18.
Instead, I had to wait until I was 11 or so, and ITV put it on late one night, and my friend Philip recorded it, and we watched it at his house when his parents were out (I would like to speculate that they were swingers).
More baffling than any of that, however, is the hand-cranked Alien Movie Viewer - which featured scenes from the film. The kid on the box looks about seven, and would have been horribly traumatised - if not by the gore ("A man is hit in the head with a fire extinguisher and white substance comes out of him" warns IMDB), then by all the profanity, which IMDB lists as follows:
Around 5 uses of "fuck," 18 of "hell," 11 of "Goddamn," 8 uses each of "shit," "damn" and "oh God," 5 of "son of a bitch," 3 of "bitch" (2 are in the Director's Cut), 2 each of "Jesus," "for Christ's sake," "Jesus Christ," "oh my God" and "God," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "bastard," "ass" and "for God's sake."
The latter, no doubt, in the following context: "For God's sake - will you please stop swearing?!"
Multiple warnings on the IMDB advisory page for the original movie certainly don't hint that it's the sort of movie property that would've ended up as a range of toys "Suitable for ages 4 and up".
- "A man crashes into a tank full of toxic waste. When he comes out, his skin is melting away. A car then drives into him and he explodes. VERY gruesome, but comically over the top."
- "A man is shot by a robot with numerous rounds. Close-up of multiple bloody bullet impacts on his chest & back. [He is then shot repeatedly after falling onto a table with multiple impact wounds.] It's EXTREMELY bloody, but absurdly over the top."
- "Most of the violent sequences described above can be frightening, disturbing, or intense, however it is often comically over the top."
- "A woman is seen topless in the background of a night club but it only lasts one or two seconds and is very hard to see. You would have to really be looking for it if you wanted to see it. This is very brief and as I already said said not easy to see."
- "In an early scene you see a topless woman changing in a locker room in the background for just almost a second. This is in the background and it's one of those blink and you miss it kind of things."
- "We also briefly see two men's buttocks in the shower room."
Still, nice ED-209... sorry - ED-260, mind.
Yet another 18-rated movie franchise to become an animated series, Rambo: The Force of Freedom saw the First Blood protagonist - a tortured and traumatised Vietnam War veteran, lest we forget - turn into a champion of liberty, battling the evil S.A.V.A.G.E. (Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion).
Yes... yes of course; famously, Rambo's enemies were all 'administrators': "You'll never stop us processing the incoming orders through our outsourced processing team, Rambo! We intend to ensure these orders are placed on the system in an accurate and timely manner, making the best gross margin possible!"
Admittedly, this is probably no less far-fetched than the chest-thumping sequels to First Blood (which, according to IMDB not only featured flashbacks to Rambo being tortured, but a scene in which he is stripped naked and hosed-down by police officers: "We can see Rambo's bare buttocks though it's obvious the police have seen everything.")
And that's not all, according to IMDB:
- "A young man tongue-kisses and hugs what he believes to be a beautiful girl. When the lights are turned on, it is revealed that he is actually doing these things to a sheep dressed in a womens' bra and lipstick."
- "A child on a bike is hit by a car, the car then backs over his head, crushing it completely. This scene is very intense and incredibly disturbing."
- "Numerous sexual jokes, phrases and innuendo, such as 'I wanna make it with you!' and 'Meet my friend Ben - Ben Dover!'"
- "Leroy has a milkshake blender stuck down his throat."
Lastly - and perhaps most damning of all - the IMDB warns: "The appearance of Toxie may scare some children."
Not to be discouraged, the Toxic Crusaders animated series featured Toxie the Toxic Avenger as the main character, though chickened out when it came to the head-crushing and sheep-tonguing.
Like so many other cartoons of the era, it was clearly hoping to replicate the success of the similarly toxic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (whose animated series was in turn based upon a considerably more grown-up indie comic book), by essentially operating as one long commercial for the associated toyline.
IMDB suggests a number of reasons why it was a dubious choice for under-age viewing, including:
- "A dog humps a man's leg as he is talking the man lifts his leg up and the dog keeps going and its penis starts to come out, he is pulled off and we see it have large genitals and he is horny."
- "A prostitute performs oral sex on a man that is trying to give a speech."
Nevertheless, after the film series adopted a similarly family-friendly trajectory to the Robocop franchise, an animated series was inevitable. In the words of C.Dickens; 'twas the prevailing trend of the day, to be sure to be sure, to turn rude and violent movies into unthreatening cartoons, begorrah!
Consequently, this led to his action figure interpretations of characters such as Eugene Tackleberry (the innuendo of his name doubtless lost on the Saturday morning TV audience) and Zed, here depicted as a trouserless skateboarder. Who are, of course, the best kind of skateboarder.
- An officer is stabbed in the eye by the T-1000.
- A guard at a mental institute is hit on the face by a broom that was broken in half, blood spurts.
- A woman's arm transforms into a sword-like weapon and stabs a man through a milk carton and through his mouth.
- Two men shoot at each other in a hallway.
- A 13 year old kid uses fuck in different ways multiple times.
Still. Y'know. Toys.
Kenner - continuing to chase another Star Wars-size hit - went all out, with numerous figures based on the movie. Unfortunately, with only really three or four potential figure-worthy characters (it seems unlikely that anybody would've bought a figure based on Dr Silberman or Todd, John Connor's foster father) they had to settle on that awful practice of releasing many different versions of the same few characters... with increasingly ridiculous action features.
Step forward an oversized version of the T-1000, whose torso flipped open to reveal a big gun (thought they couldn't turn into things with moving parts?), Battle Damage Terminator With Blow Open Chest Action, Power Arm Terminator With Missile Launcher And Grabbing Claw, and Techno-Punch Terminator With Super Smashing Action (press a button and - surprise! - Jim Bowen pops out).
The star addition to the line was the Bio-Flesh Regenerator Playset - a sort of Play Doh Mop Top Barbershop for people who'd like to peel the skin from a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The fact he became such a beloved cult figure probably tells you all you need to know about America today.
There was little in the way of merchandise for the first film in the franchise, but as sequels were released in what felt like a relentless torrent of diminishing returns, potential licensees couldn't get enough of the claw-gloved marsupial.
Perhaps the most absurd of the Freddy products offered were trading cards and bubble gum. Alright... Krueger was a fictional character, but is it really any different from, I dunno, Walkers releasing a line of crisps inspired by famous 1970s sex pests (Jimmy Savaloy favour, Rolf Harrissole flavour, Stuart Hall N' Wholegrain Oats flavour etc.)?
It is into this latter category that we can place whoever thought it was a good idea to release toys based upon Paul Verhoeven's mockery of the fetishising of the military, with its ethos that "War makes fascists of us all."
Yes, Starship Troopers was exciting, but wasn't meant to be taken at face face value. And it definitely wasn't meant for children, as IMDB makes clear:
- "A man has a hole in his head and another man sticks his fingers in the hole."
- "During the shower scene, a woman slaps a Man's bare butt."
- "A man chokes a woman with his legs."
- "A man is recording a video message for his girlfriend, and two characters (A Man and a Woman) pull down their pants exposing their bare buttocks. This is meant to be funny."
Also: did anybody really want their children playing with a toy that looked like bulbous structure at the distal end of the human penis?
Indeed, the film's vices were never more intertwined than in the sex scene involving a witch, which turns violent when she transforms into a demonic creature, and - in the words of IMDB - "is then thrown into a fire only to return as a ghostly ball of light and flies around chaotically."
Also, a crucified man bites a vulture in the neck until it dies.
Suffice to say, you could expect to see none of this in the Conan The Adventurer TV show - which clearly tried to capitalise on the brand awareness of the movie series (rather than, say, Conan's more obscure pulp magazine origins). Albeit about ten years too late.
Clearly hoping for a slice of the rapidly-cooling He-Man pie, Conan The Adventurer was little more than an advert for the accompanying toyline - which included its own skeletal antagonist in the form of Bone-Haha: The Bone-Bellied Boy (Skulkur).