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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): Revisiting the Cult Classic




If you were a kid during the spring of 1990, there was only one movie that mattered to you, and it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At the time, the world was in the grip of Turtle-Mania, with the Saturday morning cartoon and the toys all the rage. Toy stores couldn’t keep them in stock, and kids worldwide were obsessed with the kick-ass turtles. There was Leonardo, the leader; Raphael, the streetwise, tough one; Michelangelo, the prankster and Donatello, the brains. Plus, they had Splinter, the mutant rat mentor, while they battled “The Foot Clan” and their leader, the evil Shredder. Many folks don’t remember that the Ninja Turtles were based on a pretty grim and dark comic book series, and indeed the film, while taking elements from the comics, was heavily inspired by the cartoon.

Working with the Jim Henson Company, New Line and Golden Harvest (producers of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong output) gave Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a relatively lean budget, as no one knew whether or not their exploits would convincingly translate to the big screen. They shouldn’t have worried, with the movie making a massive $202 million worldwide, making it among the year’s most profitable films. However, parents would complain about the level of violence in the movie, meaning all sequels, beginning with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze would be toned down. In this episode of Revisited, written, narrated and edited by E.J. Tangonan, we look at the 1990 classic and examine whether or not it stands the test of time. We also dig into how some of the supporting cast, including Elias Koteas, who played Casey Jones, and a young Sam Rockwell, went onto huge careers in the movie’s wake.

Do you still like the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Let us know in the comments!