Ninja Turtles... in Astoria!

Before Michael Bay's dubstep-tastic reboot next month, we revisit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, when Astoria doubled as ancient Japan.

By Peter Holmstrom July 11, 2014

The Turtles in Astor-, er, Japan.

The year was 1993. Clinton was in office, war was erupting in Eastern Europe… and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were back in time!

Few kids from the early 90’s missed out on the summer blockbusters that were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. Starting in 1990, the franchise quickly spawned two sequels coming out, one after another, each summer. With voice talent provided by Corey Feldman, Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver … anyone?), and Brian Tochi, the Turtles became a pop culture phenomenon.

On August 8, the franchise that created a hundred 90’s catchphrases will try to do it again with a reboot produced by universally-respected cinema auteur Michael Bay. (Watch the trailer here. Be sure to turn the volume down. ) But while you wait, you might be so inclined to satisfy your Turtle needs by renting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, which was filmed in our very own Astoria.

The franchise decided to take a different direction with the third installment, abandoning many of the fan favorite advisories in favor of sending the masked wearing turtles back in time to ancient Japan. Pitting them against evil Samurai, the masked wearing hero’s must do battle for the salvation of a small village, while they try to discover what it means to grow up.

Meanwhile, Astoria was going through quite a filming boom during the late 80’s-early 90’s. Film classics such as The Goonies, Free Willy, Kindergarten Cop, and Benji, The Hunted, were all primarily filmed in the area around the coastal town. The combination of lush wilderness, small town ambiance, and open coastline made Astoria the ideal filming location for many Hollywood execs. The Turtles were no different. Producers of the film sought to recreate the atmosphere of ancient Japan, without the hassle of actually going there.  

The film received lackluster reviews upon its release, but has maintained as a good testament to a bygone age (early 90’s, not ancient Japan). Over-the-top action, humorous catchphrases, and pre-CGI special effects that remind us how far our technology has come. Viewing a movie like this, it might be best just to suspend disbelief and just let your nostalgia take over. Put on your TMNT shirt, grab your old plastic cup you made your mom buy at Wal-Mart, and just enjoy it!


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