We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had the action figures, clothes, shoes, playsets, you name it. When the live-action TMNT movies came out, I begged my mom to take me. Fortunately for me, she obliged. I must have seen the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film at some point before seeing Secret of the Ooze (though I have no memory of it) because I remember being annoyed at some of the changes. Despite that, I still loved the movie. Were you a Turtle fan back in the day? Check out the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is the sequel to the 1990 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The film stars Paige Turco, Ernie Reyes, Jr., and David Warner among others. It might seem strange for me to cover a sequel before I cover the original film, but this week marks the 30th anniversary of the film. Since I remember seeing the film in theaters, I felt it would be appropriate to cover Secret of the Ooze this week. Secret of the Ooze picks up right where the original film left off. The Turtles and Splinter are searching for a new home (and crashing with April in the meantime), while Shredder is reforming the Foot Clan with a secret–he’s found the ooze that will allow him to create monsters that will be able to defeat the Turtles.
As I’ve said numerous times in my other work here at Fangirlish, I am a huge fan of practical effects. The puppetry, animatronics, and costumes used to create the Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and Tokka and Rahzar are fantastic. These were created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the film is dedicated to Jim Henson’s memory. Utilizing some of the best martial artists and stuntmen in the business, the Turtles still look like they could be the real thing. If you’re into fun and fantastic action sequences and incredible attention to detail in regards to animatronics and puppetry, look no further than Secret of the Ooze.
Sometimes you just need a comfort movie. Anything with nostalgia pushes that button for me. As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to catch Secret of the Ooze in the theater. While I remember being annoyed at April’s recast (I really liked Judith Hoag as April!), that’s not to say that I didn’t like Paige Turco. She’s great in the role of April, though her role isn’t as prominent in this film as it was in the first. Ever the nitpicking fangirl, even at age 6, I also remember being annoyed that they had April working at Channel 3 News, not at Channel 6 News like in the cartoon.
Despite all this, I had a blast with the movie. My mom and sister fell asleep in the theater, but I was having the time of my life, munching on popcorn and candy and getting to see my favorite cartoon come to life on the big screen. I remember being a little freaked out by Super Shredder. I remember crying when thinking that he had actually done the Turtles in. It was a wild ride for a 6-year-old kid and I loved every minute of it.
As an adult, it was fascinating to me to see David Warner who is probably better known to modern audiences for his appearances in Titanic and Tron, in a cheesy family action comedy with mutant turtles. It was nice to see him in a comedy role, rather than his usual drama or science fiction. It was also fascinating to see Ernie Reyes, Jr., who was the fight double for Donatello in the original film, be given his own starring role as Keno. The role was created for him because the filmmakers liked him so much in the original, but also as an alternative to the ultra-violent Casey Jones, according to IMDB. Ernie Reyes, Jr. has worked steadily in film and television since this film.
Also, let us not forget the best part of the entire film, “The Ninja Rap” by Vanilla Ice, featuring a full on dance routine fight scene with our favorite guys in green. That’s the part of the movie that took my husband from saying, “This is dumb,” to “THIS IS AWESOME!”
If you could use a break from the world, turn on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. If you really want to take a deep dive into classic TMNT lore, all three original live-action TMNT films are available.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is currently available on HBO MAX.