Released Mar. 30, 1990
Duration 93 minutes
Director Steve Barron
Written by Bobby Herbeck (story), Todd W. Langen & Bobby Herbeck (screenplay)
Music John Du Prez
Studio New Line Cinema, Golden Harvest
Rated PG

The Ninja Turtles as full-bodied creations

Jim turtles

The Ninja Turtles with Jim Henson

Sb jh tmnt

The Ninja Turtles with Jim Henson and director Steve Barron.


Jim Henson and Leonardo

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the first theatrical film based on the popular comic book characters of the same name, about a group of crime-fighting reptiles who lived in a sewer. The plot condenses elements from the comic books, combined with the lighter touch of the 1987 animated series.

Set in New York City, the story revolves around a mysterious crime wave, which can be traced back to the revival of an ancient Japanese order known as the Foot. Led by the Shredder, the thugs threaten investigative reporter April O'Neil, who receives unexpected aid from the titular turtles. Further complications arise with the kidnapping of mentor Splinter, the presence of sports equipment-wielding vigilante Casey Jones, and the entanglement of a young teen, the son of April's boss, in the Foot.

Jim Henson's Creature Shop supplied the four central characters as well as Splinter. Brian Henson was chief puppeteer and also served as second unit director, overseeing the fight scenes. Two separate sets of body suits were made. The heavier, more detailed suits were worn by the principal body performers in most scenes, while a lighter set was engineered explicitly for action and stunt scenes. The suits were divided into 15 pieces, and the faces were controlled via motorized cables, located in the shells. This technology, later refined into the Henson Performance Control System, paved the way for such later productions as Dinosaurs, which used many of the same puppeteers and creatives.

The Creature Shop also provided the creatures for the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. However, they did not work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III or the TV series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.



Jim Henson's Creature Shop


Teenage mutant ninja turtles are an acquired taste, like pizza with bananas and sausage. If you haven't already acquired the taste for them, based on watching the screechy, poorly animated kiddie TV show, then you should stay home and teach your kids to read books instead of taking them to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Movie, The Marketing Concept...

Despite Jim Henson's overzealous animatronics, the four turtles are basically lithe stuntmen wearing turtle costumes. Their dubbed voices sound like Bill & Ted on another, less excellent adventure.
—Jami Bernard, The New York Post. March 30, 1990

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