Lost Picture Show: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles



Release Date: March 30th, 1990

First Saw It: I saw it in Danvers, Massachusetts when I was five years old. My life revolved around Ninja Turtles. If my mom didn’t take me to see this, it would have been a temper tantrum of epic proportions.

What Drew Me To See It: Are you kidding me?! They were “Lean, Mean, and on the Screen!”

Starring: Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Josh Pais, David Forman, Leif Tilden, Michelan Sisti, Kevin Clash, James Saito


Random Actor Alert: Do you remember when we first enter the Foot Clan hideout? Arcade games. Skateboard ramps. Kids smoking cigars. Do you remember the de facto tour guide who offers new recruits cigarettes? Believe it or not, that tour guide was Sam Rockwell. Yup. The guy who spins around space all by himself in Moon used to be a thug for Shredder.

Bad Ass Ninja Moment: I’m always a sucker for the “nunchuck off” that Michelangelo has with a random foot soldier that ends with Michelangelo spinning the nunchuck with one finger. That’s pretty cool. As an aside, did you know that midway through the original Turtles cartoon series, they changed Michelangelo’s nunchucks to a lame rope? Cut me a break!

Director: Steve Barron. He also directed Coneheads Eh.

The Best Performance: There’s not really much to choose from. The Turtle voices are pretty good, but the actors in the costumes were more impressive. Judith Hoag was a spunky and likable April, so I’ll say she gave the best performance. I think it’s a safe bet she’ll have more personality than the Megan Fox version we are about to see.

The Bad Performance: In one of the worst performances you will ever hear, we get Michael McConnohie as the voice of Tatsu, Shredder’s right hand man. His most atrocious delivery though is when him and Shredder are talking, and Tatsu asks, “I do not understand. Why do the Turtles trouble you, Master?” Go back and listen to it. They couldn’t have gotten another take on that? Awful. One awesome scene with Tatsu though is with Shredder, right after the Foot Clan fails to defeat the Turtles. Shredder gives Tatsu the most intense stare down of all time. Holy turtle wax, it’s frightening.

TMT movie

The Moment to Remember: I love and adore every bit of this film. There are so many to choose from. As much as I love it when the screen goes black, and you hear the Turtles kicking ass for the first time, I’m going with a sappier moment. I always get emotional when Raphael comes home late after fighting Casey Jones, and Splinter takes him to task about his anger. Yeah, there’s a lot of fortune cookie type wisdom from Splinter, but whatever, I don’t care. Splinter cares so much for his turtles, it just gets to me, alright!

The Memorable Quote: “Death comes for us all, Oruku Saki. But something much worse comes for you. For when you die, it will be…without honor.” -Splinter, right before Shredder falls to his death

Honorable Mention: “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMNNN!!!” -Raphael

The Groan Moment:
In every interpretation of the Ninja Turtles, it seems like Splinter’s back story is always different. In this film, he was a pet rat of Hamato Yoshi, and he mimicked his master’s moves in his cage. Uhhhhh, okay. If that’s not bad enough, we actually see the rat doing little karate kicks in the cage. Yeah, I can’t defend that one. It’s just stupid.

Why I Can’t Stop Watching It: While some will argue this may not qualify as a “Lost Picture,” I still think this film gets forgotten about, and is vastly underappreciated. I honestly believe with every fiber in my being that this is a legitimately good movie, without any qualifiers. Yeah, it’s silly at times, but no sillier than a lot of the stuff we just saw in Guardians of the Galaxy. I like that the film is scaled back, in that there’s no big “taking over the world,” plot. It’s about four brothers being forced to grow up when the only father figure they’ve ever known is taken from them. I bought into their struggle. The movie also doesn’t beat you over the head with its humor. It’s surprisingly subtle, with such memorable lines as “Wayne Gretzky…on steroids,” and “Wise man say, forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.” That’s pretty funny. But the reason this is my favorite turtles related piece of entertainment, and why it has stood the test of time is because it works for both kids and adults. As a kid, I loved the action and “Cowabungas,” but as an adult I can appreciate the gritty nature, and camaraderie among the turtles. It’s one of the movies I’ve watched the most times in my life, and I will never stop.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.