The 1980s were a glorious time for movies and cartoons.
This was the era of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. When sci-fi reigned supreme at the box office with brilliant and tonally diverse movies like Back to the Future and RoboCop. It was also the decade when the comedy had an edge and, most importantly, was funny.
Movie studios took risks and were richly rewarded as a result.
The 1980s were different. In the wake of Star Wars and the success of the Kenner line of toys, companies were on the lookout for ways to cash in on a major movie property, regardless of the certificate. Toys were big business, sure, but so were tie-in cartoons, designed to give younger viewers a neat way into the fun. They didn’t always work out and, in a few instances, proved short-lived but revisiting these animated gems still makes for a fun experience.
For some of us, these animated adventures offered a first foray into several major franchises. In other cases, you might be surprised some of these ever existed. Whatever the case, it makes for a wonderful nostalgia trip to a time before the internet and mobile phones and when our movies – and cartoons – were populated by heroes and hilarity in a way lacking today.
11. Little Shop
Little Shop may have technically been based on Roger Corman’s original 1960 B-movie outing The Little Shop of Horrors, but this unusual animated outing was also undoubtedly inspired by the success of the 1986 remake starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.
The horror elements of the original were removed for this family friendly outing - including, quite literally, the word “horrors” from the title. The premise still centered on flower shop worker Seymour Krelborn though, now a 13-year-old boy rather than a young man, and his relationship with a talking Venus flytrap called Audrey Junior who retained the ability to talk and hypnotise but no longer ate people on screen.
Together, they embarked on a series of imaginatively outlandish adventures that usually included several musical numbers, mostly led by Junior, and often ended with a moral message. Seymour’s love interest, Audrey, was still present, while the popular character of crazed dentist Orin Scrivello, played by Martin in the 1986 movie, was transposed to that of brace-wearing local bully and main antagonist Paine Driller.
Memorable for Audrey Junior’s use of early ‘90s hip-hop dialect and occasionally surreal raps, notable storylines included one in which Seymour purchased a new pair of shoes that gave him the ability to fly and another in which the world’s oldest tree led an army of used paper products in a revolt against humanity.
Developed by Mark Edward Edens, who went on to write for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men animated series, Little Shop ran for just one series and 13 episodes before disappearing without a trace.