Non-Union Films: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


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Midmost Coast podcast episode 002 | Non-Union Films: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles | A retrospective on the long tail of the ninja turtle

[Adult Language]

The original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has long tendrils that wind their way through Daredevil, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, George Lucas, and a talking duck.

We explore this movie’s connection to Wilmington, North Carolina and the world of comics and film. In the process kill off long time co-host Sean Gallagher.

Show Summary

Getting the Movie Made

  • The cartoon was for kids, the comic was for cool kids who said swear words
  • Gallagher’s connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie
  • Howard the Duck and Masters of the Universe as obstacles to getting the movie produced
  • Sean is not related to Gallagher
  • A deal is struck by Enter the Dragon studio Golden Harvest
  • The movie comes to Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington
  • Jim Henson’s Creature shop is brought on board
  • Budget concerns make everyone nervous, Raymond Chow gambles and wins
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dethrones The Hunt for Red October
  • The feud between David Prowse, Darth Vader body actor, and George Lucas
  • The legacy and untimely death of Jim Henson

Breaking Down the Movie

  • TMNT as a competent comic book film, Sean disses The Avengers and Batman v Superman
  • Did Shredder take over a YMCA and draft a bunch of youths into his evil gang?
  • Dominos v Pizza Hut: a strange marketing marriage
  • The creators clearly confused Shredder with Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget
  • The Foot Clan really really wanted portable televisions
  • Divining the shooting locations from the Wilmington area: a house and a factory
  • Casey Jones fills the role of “the other human in the movie”
  • The great Sam Rockwell appears as Head Thug
  • April O’Neil is clearly a hoarder

Six Degrees of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  • George Lucas, fan of brash comic book character Howard the Duck, tries to adapt it to film, doesn’t make all the monies
  • Flash forward to Ryan Reynolds spearheading the financially successful Deadpool adaptation
  • The origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the comics started as a parody of Daredevil
  • X-Men and Cerebus are other comics mixed in
  • The Netflix Daredevil¬†series renews interest in the franchise, connection to the Turtles becomes obvious
  • Guardians of the Galaxy has a similar tone, was a well received unserious film adapted from a comic
  • Howard the Duck has a cameo in the after credits scene
  • Casey Jones as a Punisher parody
  • The deleted end scene from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie pokes fun at the movie-making process, leans up against the fourth wall but doesn’t break it

Quiz for Life

  • Sean must get 500 points in the quiz to survive
  • The quiz is clearly rigged
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and its¬†connection to TMNT



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Deadpool Blu-ray

Howard the Duck (Special Edition)

Farscape: The Complete Series (15th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

Guardians Of The Galaxy [Blu-ray]

Masters of the Universe (Keepcase)

(Disclosure: Midmost Coast can make a small commission for product links.)


Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published the original comic through Mirage Studios.

Director Steve Barron provides audio commentary on the making of the movie.

The cast and crew of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on IMDb.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘: Untold Story of the Movie “Every Studio in Hollywood” Rejected (The Hollywood Reporter)

A list of identified shooting locations from the movie. Most of the exteriors are around New York City.

A StarNews retrospective on the filming of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Wilmington.

Before Darth Vader was voiced over by James Earl Jones he kind of sounded like Rick Moranis in Spaceballs. Listen to it on Youtube.

A breakdown of the deleted closing scene from the movie.

A direct link to the deleted closing scene on YouTube.

Who or what was in the cocoon in the after credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy and why should I care?

Cerebus the Aardvark was a real comic, I didn’t make it up.

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