Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Jan 12 and Jan 13, Noon. Purchase Tickets.

1. Seeing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in theaters was one of the first movie-going experiences that I can remember wholesale. It was at a packed theater in suburban Virginia, in a boom part of town that is now an abandoned wasteland. For some reason there was a two hour delay in screening the movie, a projection issue I think, and to appease the crowd the theater staff gave swag away to the crowd of eager kids instead of just sending us home. I won the raffle for the Ninja Turtles board game—this one, if memory serves. I don’t think I ever played it.

2. The success of the Ninja Turtles as marketing tools reached strange lows around 1990. Aside from the live stage show, the endless array of toys and home videos, the clothes, and the birthday party paraphernalia—all pretty standard stuff for kid icons—but, there was also the extremely odd Los Angeles Metro campaign where the Ninja Turtles pushed the new Metro Blue Line.

LA Metro doled out over 100,000 VHS tapes of a 15 minute adventure of the Ninja Turtles—voiced by the actors from the show—riding around on public transportation and boasting about how radical it was.  It’s something.

3. Despite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles basically being a feature length Dominoes commercial, this Pizza Hut commercial based around a Peter, Paul and Mary song became forever stuck in a generation’s head because it was on the front end of the film’s VHS release.

4. Most everyone knows Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, but Partners in Kryme’s “Turtle Power?” Heaven. Here’s a live performance. It’s not too good.

5. The Foot Clan’s headquarters in this movie represents the single most awesome early 90’s playground of childish debauchery. It had everything a 5 to 13 year old would want in life circa 1989: free arcade games, gambling stations, contraband cigarettes, pool tables, basketball hoops and a goddamn elevated, graffiti-covered skate park. It’s like Bart Simpson designed the place, and I desperately want to go there.

6. Sam Rockwell makes a few appearances in this movie as the head Foot Clan punk. Most notably when he’s giving a tour of their warehouse and boasting about his gang’s off-brand cigarette selection.


7. Look at this sweater I had. How cool was I?


8. Just in case this meme somehow passed you by… The Ninja Turtle Lady:

9. It’s rather surprising that this first Ninja Turtles movie turned out as dark as it did–with some coarse language and violence that skewed more towards action movie than goofball kids’ flick. Despite all that though, it’s still not as dark as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original comic book. At the end of the Shredder arc in the book, Leronardo cuts the dude’s head off. I can see why the film’s producers opted for pushing Shredder into a garbage truck instead.


10. Honestly, I always liked Secret of the Ooze more than the first film.