On March 30, 1990, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened in movie theaters. Directed by Steve Barron, the live-action superhero comedy was based on the dark and gritty comic book of the same name created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, as well as the much lighter and funnier 1987 cartoon series.
Our heroes in a half shell (turtle power!) were four pizza-loving, mutated turtles named after Italian Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. They were raised in the sewers and trained in the art of ninjutsu by Splinter, their anthropomorphic rat sensei. The turtles protected the streets of New York City, battling every possible foe from small, petty criminals to the Foot Clan — an evil Ninja organization led by a masked maniac named Shredder — while trying to remain in the shadows because: walking, talking, human-sized turtles.
TMNT '90 starred Judith Hoag as April O'Neil and Elias Koteas as hockey-mask-wearing vigilante Casey Jones, with the vocal talents of Corey Feldman as Donatello, Brian Tochi as Leonardo, Robbie Rist as Michaelangelo, and Josh Pais as Raphael. The various creatures were created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
While the film was panned by critics at the time of its release, fans totally dug the movie (it was a lot of fun), turning TMNT into the highest-grossing independent film of all time (at the time). Two sequels quickly followed: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in 1991 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993, in which Paige Turco replaced Hoag as April. The franchise was rebooted more than 20 years later for the big screen in 2014 with the first of two new movies.
Ahead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 28th anniversary next Friday, SYFY WIRE is taking a look back at the movie, so we invite you to have a look at this cool retrospective with us. Cowabunga!
Did you catch TMNT '90 when it first came out in movie theaters?
Additional material by Nathalie Caron.