T-U-R-T-L-E POWER! The Everlasting Nostalgia of the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie

T-U-R-T-L-E POWER! The Everlasting Nostalgia of the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie

The date was March 30th, 1990 and nothing, I MEAN NOTHING could have prepared us for the now nostalgic national treasure of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movie. With Turtle Mania running hot via the hit animated series, it was the event of the year for pretty much everyone in my age group and beyond. I was seven at the time and a huge fan of the series. I don’t remember a whole lot at this age, but I do remember going to the theater with my dad to see this and oh man… it really was an event for us kids. We were getting a live-action Ninja Turtle movie, y’all. This was better than the Good Humor truck breaking down in front of my house.

The lights dimmed and after a few trailers I don’t even remember because I was too damn excited, we opened up to the skyline of New York City (which greatly pleased my NY-bred father) with April O’Neil dubbing over scenes of young boys with the Foot robbing people blind; along with a brief shot of what we all knew was Shredder’s hand. It was already fucking amazing.

I was already sold and then this happened.

The theater was jam-packed as it was opening weekend Saturday and as someone who was there, I can validate we all collectively lost our shit when after the title credits when they hit the screen. That music started popping and it was all over from there. We were hooked in for a ride that we never wanted to get off from and are still enjoying it well over 30 years later.

There’s just so much to love about this movie paired with a massive load of nostalgia that comes with a viewing, so I’ll try to keep it light without boring you to death. Beyond the obvious wonderful things about TMNT 1990 like Casey Jones and the Jim Henson magic of the Turtles, let’s talk about some minor stuff that gets overlooked that warm all my nostalgic fuzzies and help make this film a nostalgic masterpiece.

That being said, we gotta talk about one of the reasons why this TMNT movie, in particular, is the best- Raphael’s glorious dirty fuckin’ mouth.

Fuck Yeah, Ralph

Before the opening scenes seen above, our hot-headed teenage turtle mutters DAMN and repeats it several times throughout the film with an added Bitchin’ at the film’s end. Honestly, this seems really petty as an adult but in 1990, it was a damn big deal. It was really cool for us kids to see our green machine heroes swear- albeit still PG words but radical nonetheless. However, this paired with the more serious dark tone and use of weapons upset parents because spoiler alert- people have always been offended by something- and our heroes in a half-shell were toned down immensely for the sequel the following year. I don’t know if anyone ever noticed that in Secret of the Ooze, the turtles do way more hand-to-hand combat rather than relying on their trusty signature weapons of choice, but it’s worth mentioning since that’s the result of pearl-clutching parents of the 90s.

Fast Food Cameos

Just look at that delightful whopping boxing folks. It’s the little things like this that make the world a better place.

Watching the movie now at 40, it’s fun to see all the retro commercial products inserted for possible material gains like Dominos and Burger King. Of course, pizza promotions were gotta be somewhere in this movie as we all know pizza is GOD to our fab four. Dominos went pretty heavy in the movie for product placement, but do you remember Pizza Hut had a commercial on the original VHS release right before the movie started? I always found it odd the rival pizza chains both had a hand in this film, but anyway, here’s a refresher in case memory doesn’t serve you well!

With the huge success of the movie, both Burger King and Pizza Hut went on to do a myriad of promotions within the fast food chains including BK teaming up with F.H.E to release VHS tapes of the animated series at their restaurants,

Bonus points if you still have yours!

Ralphael Meets The Krites

“Where do they come up with this stuff?!”

Just a shameless promotion from New Line for their 1986 film Critters that makes a cameo but again, it’s the little things like this that have made me fall in love with this movie over, and over again. A supposed family-friendly film with a cameo for a horror movie featuring carnivorous little aliens.


Baby Sam Rockwell

Ahh yes. The Academy Award-winning actor Sam Rockwell played the head thug at the Foot Clan’s hideout. Albeit not his first film, he did appear in the highly controversial Clownhouse a year before, but it’s always nice to know where his adept villainous streak started. Rockwell is great at playing an asshole and let’s face it- anyone happy to keep poor Splinter hung up in a dank smelly hideaway is a pure prick in my book. Just a little tidbit from a superb actor that made us hate the Foot even more.

The VHS Release

October 4, 1990, was the date of infamy when the movie was released nationwide to video stores partnered with Family Home Entertainment and we all ran like there was, a lack of a better phrase, a turtle peeping out our buttholes to the closest retailer to pick up our copy of the film of our generation. Everyone had a copy within the first week and could be seen in every 90s kids’ home for years to come. It was a rite of our passage and youth to have this in our possession and a beautiful nostalgic revisit as an adult.

While the VHS is indeed our gold standard for nostalgic purposes, Umbrella Entertainment is releasing a special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stink-O-Vision Version Blu-Ray jam-packed with fun for your senses to revisit the movie like nothing ever before. The pack comes with scent cards accompanied with a menu of dank and delicious bespoke scents from Scented Storytelling to enhance the film’s stinkiest moments. Simply scratch the corresponding number on your scent card when the icon flashes on the screen and join Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as they fight to become the city’s greatest mutant crimefighters and take down the nefarious Shredder. 

You can pre-order your copy here!

All that being said, I’ll just leave it here with one of the most important life lessons we took from this movie…


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