Judge Dredd: Fan Films And Animation Keep Character Alive Onscreen

Let’s face some harsh facts here, Dredd fans. As much as we want it to happen (and we really do), it’s becoming more and more unlikely that we will ever see Karl Urban suit up in the Mega City One gear again. But Dredd fans shouldn’t be too disheartened. There is a plethora of Judge related videos out there, a lot of them made by fans that are keen to keep the adventures of Joe Dredd alive and kicking.

So, we are such big fans of the character around here, and our coverage of Judge Dredd’s weirder team-ups was pretty well received, we’re back with some of our favorite shorts, focusing on the Lawman of the Future and his unique universe.

Below is an eclectic array of some of his more interesting visual affairs. One of the most interesting (and recent) videos to do with the world of Dredd is actually a series.  Not just a series, but an animated adventure showing the birth of some of Dredd’s main villains, Judge Death and the Dark Judges. It’s called Super Fiend and brought to us by Adi Shankar. The series focuses on Judge Death from childhood into his transformation via the Sisters of Death, Phobia and Nausea, and finally culminating with Death’s introduction to Judge Dredd.

The series itself has a frantic animation style to it, reminiscent of MTV Liquid Television shorts (Aeon Flux in particular), and is quite a faithful representation of the comic book series it is adapting. There are some tweaks here and there with Dredd’s niece Vienna Dredd making an appearance, as well as Rico (Dredd’s clone brother) also having a cameo role. Much like the Dredd movie, this is a re-imagining of the world of Mega City One and a superbly entertaining one at that. In case you were unaware, Adi Shankar was the executive producer of Dredd, and this is a thank you to the fans of the movie for all the support. He is also the brainchild behind the awesome shorts Truth in Journalism featuring Ryan Kwanten as Eddie Brock and Dirty Laundry, an unofficial Punisher short with Thomas Jane reprising his role as Frank Castle.

This is not the first animated short for Dredd however. Back in the ’90s a series of adverts were released promoting the 2000 AD comic. There are quite a few of these, all focusing on different 2000 AD characters, and below is a Dredd related one.

To promote the release of the latest Dredd film, Lionsgate also got in on the animation action, creating a motion comic prequel to the movie focusing on the origins of Ma-Ma. It is a great companion piece to the feature film.

Two other fan made shorts which may be of interest to Dredd fans are the strangely odd, yet fun to watch version of the children’s TV show Bod (created by Happy Toast), where a fan has taken the designs of the popular 70s UK show and made a Judge Dredd variant of it. The other is RA Productions animated Judge Death cartoon. RA Productions have also created their own adaptation of James O’Barr’s The Crow.

Possibly one of the first Judge Dredd shorts came to us courtesy of a group of slightly intoxicated Dredd fans – P.J. Van Es as director and producer and D.A. Pezzutto on story being among them – who decided to show their love of the character by creating their own interpretation of the iconic lawman. From 1992, Judge Dredd: The Body Shop follows Dredd on what for him is a typical day in Mega City One.

Now the short itself has its flaws. It is certainly not the most polished of presentations, with some dodgy acting at times, sparse shooting locations, a chin on Dredd that would terrify small children and the fact that Dredd has quite the accent. But in spite of all of these flaws it has tons of heart. You can tell that the group behind this feature were just enjoying the fact they were making a Judge Dredd fan film. If you want more information on the short’s creation, the team behind it have a Facebook page which will fill you in.

Judge Dredd – The Cursed Edge series is a more modern take on the Judge Dredd universe (created by Oliver Hollingdale), which mixes in elements of the 2012 film and the comic book series. This episodic series started in 2013 and is still ongoing. The series focuses on different elements and aspects of Dredd’s universe. Part 1 (which you can see below) focuses on undercover officer Judge Hollister as she chases down a drug dealer by the name of Drex. Part 2 looks at Brit-Cit Judge Labelle and his investigation into a missing Judge. So far this series shows great promise (Part 3 came out last month and has the same high standards as the first 2 episodes), and the episodic nature of the series makes for a welcome change. You never quite know which element of the Judges’ history is going to be covered. Here is hoping that in 2015 we get to see more of these shorts.

One of the most impressive Dredd related shorts to come out so far has to be the Judge Minty short. Taking 5 years to complete by director Steven Sterlacchini and co-writer Michael Carroll, it follows Judge Minty, an aged Judge who at the end of a 2000 AD story (first seen in prog 147) decides to take The Long Walk. The Long Walk is the walk in to The Cursed Earth, outside of Mega City One where the mutants and banned citizens live; a barren no man’s land where the Judges go to live out the rest of their days giving law to the lawless. In the original story this is the end of Judge Minty. But in this short we follow him into the wasteland and see just what problems he comes up against.

The short is incredibly detailed in its depiction of the Dredd universe, with some top quality acting (especially from Edmund Dehn as Minty). On a low-budget the team has created some incredible set pieces and an interesting story to boot. The great thing is you do not have to be a Dredd fan to enjoy this short, but if you are it is a much more exciting show. For more information on this be sure to check out the official websites with the link provided.

Finally for a bit of fun I thought I would include some musical videos based on Judge Dredd’s work. In 1985 two members of the popular UK Ska band Madness, decided to spin-off and create their own band. Calling themselves The Fink Brothers, the group was comprised of Angel (lead singer Suggs) and Ratty Fink (Chas Smash). The duo tried their best to dress the part, but they were never going to win any awards for their costume designs! Still, the tune Mutants in Mega City One is quite a catchy ’80s track, and it is hard not to like a band singing about Dredd’s exploits.

This is where our small screen Dredd odyssey has to end, but only for the time being. While we do not know what the future has in store with regards to another Dredd feature film, we can be sure that Dredd fans far and wide aren’t likely to stop creating great little movies like the ones we’ve showcased today.


Images: Adi Shankar

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