If you have listened to our show for more than two episodes, you know that I am a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What you might not know is that my fandom is a bit on the weird side for my age group.
For one, I'm not a fan of every version of the Turtles. For example, despite being the right age for it, I didn't really dig the original cartoon series. It was alright but it didn't really ever grab me. Same with the figures, I fell in line with the Playmates toys much later in life.
In this multi-part series, I'm going to explore the aspects of the Turtles that I do love starting with the version I probably love more than any other version, the 1990 film.
In 1990, I was 12 years old and while I had watched episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon here and there, I wasn't obsessive about it. It wasn't a must-see as GI Joe or Transformers had been and I think I was slowly moving away from cartoons at that point (only to dive headlong back in as an adult).
As kids, we didn't go to the movies often. My sister and I had very different tastes at that point and even though it was much cheaper than it is to go to the theatre now, going was a bit expensive.
None the less, my mother took me to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the Glenway Theatre in Newmarket and I was in! When Christmas rolled around, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became the first VHS tape I got and I wore the crap out of it!
I'm not entirely sure why this particular version of the Turtles that grabbed younger me so hard but if I were to guess, it was a few things.
1) While the story was familiar, it was a little darker and more mature than the cartoon. Since I was getting a "little old for cartoons" (which we now know to be complete bullshit), it was that great bridge between the two areas.
It's also pretty good. The story isn't complicated but it's pulled off really well. There's a fair amount of action, bits of humour and it was obvious that writers Bobby Herbeck and Todd Langen, understood the characters really well.
2) I think my interest in the film making process was also starting to take hold. I was so amazed by the Turtle suits. I would watch any making-of clips I could about how Jim Henson's company created the suits and the animatronics inside.
Not to mention the costume design for Shredder and Casey Jones. Their looks are such that when I think of those characters, it's the film's versions that come to mind.
As an adult, I can honestly say that it's still the best version of the turtles outside of the comic book. While there are a few things that once you see, you can't unsee about the Turtle suits, on a whole, the movie still looks good. The score is still solid. The soundtrack... isn't great and very dated but Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme still makes me smile whenever I hear it.
...and I may or may not know all the words.
My love of this version was so great that when NECA announced that they would be doing a limited edition SDCC set of figures, I contacted everyone I knew who was going to try and secure a set. That didn't happen but luckily they would be re-released and my lovely wife pulled a lot of strings to get me the four heroes in a half shell. As you read this, I await my pre-order of Splinter, Shredder and Foot Soldiers.
Next week... we move to the original comic book.