Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Synopsis of Movie

“Cowabunga, dudes!”

From cult comic to hit cartoon to total world domination. That, with only slight exaggeration, was the path followed by Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For a time, they really did seem to own the globe, as turtle maniacs in Ninja Turtles jammies munched down bowls of Ninja Turtles cereal while watching the Ninja Turtles cartoon, followed by a rousing Ninja Turtles game on the Nintendo, interrupted only for a delicious lunch of Chef Boyardee Ninja Turtles pasta and chewy Ninja Turtles fruit snacks (we could go on, but you get the idea).

In 1990, as turtlemania was entering its golden years, New Line Cinema released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a feature-length film. And surprisingly, it was live-action. Thanks to the wonder boys at Jim Henson Productions, Splinter and the gang came to body-suited/animatronic life in a human world.

The Ninja Turtles' origin was familiar to anyone who had a television, but the film re-created it for the benefit of those not in the know (i.e. – the moms, dads and older siblings who got dragged along):

Splinter was once the pet rat of a martial arts master, but exposure to a radioactive mutagen turned him into a half-human/half-rat wise man. The man-rat found four turtles—pet shop escapees who also got the Mutagenic treatment—and is now training them in the ways of the ninja. They aren’t always the best students, more interested in scarfing pizza and rattling off clever one-liners than perfecting their breathing techniques, but they’re good kids at heart.

Meanwhile, the turtles’ city is being terrorized by a gang of teen punks called the Foot Clan, who rob and plunder under the direction of steel-masked ninja The Shredder. Out covering the crime wave, news reporter April O’Neil finds Leo, Don, Mike and Raph kicking Foot Clan tail. Humanoid turtles not being common in those parts, she investigates the story and ends up being the boys’ liaison to the human world (they generally keep hidden inside the sewers). When Splinter and his students learn that the Foot Clan kids are actually being brainwashed by video games (see, your mother was right), the gang—along with sports nut vigilante Casey Jones—hits the streets to take a turtle-sized bite out of crime.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie, was closer to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the comic, than the carton series had been, and die-hard fans couldn’t have been happier. But the dark, PG-rated movie did nothing to scare away the hordes of Turtles devotees who’d made the cartoon such a hit. The live-action blockbuster was the biggest thing to come out of New Line Cinema to that date, and it was one of the biggest theatrical hits of the year.

CBS responded to the movie’s success by bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from weekday syndication to Saturday morning, where it dominated the ratings for years. Two feature sequels followed in the next two years before kids eventually decided it was time for the next big thing (“Go Go Power Rangers…”)

Movie Release History

1990 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
1991 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
1993 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

Golden Harvest Productions, New Line


April O'Neil  Judith Hoag
Casey Jones   Elias Koteas
Raphael Josh Pais
Passenger in Cab  Josh Pais
Michaelangelo Michelan Sisti
Pizza Man  Michelan Sisti
Donatello Leif Tilden
Foot Messenger  Leif Tilden
Leonardo David Forman
Gang Member  David Forman
Danny Pennington  Michael Turney
Charles Pennington  Jay Patterson
Chief Sterns  Raymond Serra
The Shredder  James Saito
Tatsu  Toshiro Obata
Head Thug  Sam Rockwell
June  Kitty Fitzgibbon
Cab Driver  Louis Cantarini
Movie Hoodlum #1 Joseph D'Onofrio
Movie Hoodlum #2  John David Ward
Shinsho  Ju Yu
Charles' Secretary  Cassandra Ward-Freeman
Technician  Mark Jeffrey Miller
New Recruit  John Rogers
Talkative Foot #1  Tae Pak
Talkative Foot #2  Kenn Scott
Tall Teen  Robert Haskell
Police Officer #1   Winston Hemingway
Police Officer #2  Joe Inscoe
Michaelangelo (voice)  Robbie Rist
Leonardo (voice)  Brian Tochi
Beaten Teen  Joshua Bo Lozoff
Splinter (voice)  Kevin Clash
The Shredder (voice)  David McCharen
Tatsu (voice)  Michael McConnohie
Donatello (voice)  Corey Feldman

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