Those kickboxing, pizza-munching, kung fu fighting, sewer-dwelling super-reptiles made their feature debut in this uneven comic-strip fantasy, directed by pop-video whizzkid Steve Barron.
The foursome of warrior turtles named after Renaissance artists (Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael) answer to a Japanese sensei (Splinter) who happens to be a rat.
The turtles talk like surfers (“radical, dude”), live on pizza – delivered to their sewer lair – and battle a gang of street punks called the Foot, led by a Darth Vader-voiced rogue ninja called the Shredder.
The inane plot sees the turtles help TV reporter April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) investigate a New York crime spree masterminded by the Shredder.
Elias Koteas scores as a mock-turtle vigilante, and there are some nifty turtle effects from the Henson Creature Shop, but little else hits the target, despite Barron covering the cracks with fast editing.
The movie was a $100 million smash at the box office and was followed by the amiably asinine (and imaginatively titled) sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II in 1991 (which “featured” the acting debut of rapper Vanilla Ice).