There is a scar on my right arm that I got 25 years ago today.
I know this, because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze hit theaters 25 years ago today. Believe it or not, the two are related. This is one of my earliest and most vivid childhood memories.
In 1991, I was four years old, and absolutely loved everything Ninja Turtles. (Visit me on Twitter if you think that’s changed.) So when the new movie came out, of course my parents were going to take me to see it. While they were getting ready to go, I took the opportunity for a little playtime. I had a pair of walkie-talkies that I used to play detective. One of them had a broken antenna. The top half had been snapped off, leaving an exposed jagged edge. In retrospect, I don’t know why they still let me play with it. They must not have known about it. I then decided to put the thing in my pocket and go bother my dad in his bedroom.
At this point, everything happens in slow motion. I come into the room. He grabs me and lifts me up over his head. He flips me upside down, and just as he’s about to slam me down onto the bed, the walkie-talking falls out of my pocket, the broken antenna digs into my skin and cuts a big ol’ gash right across my forearm.
The next thing I know, I’m sitting in the emergency room getting stitches.
While one doctor struggles to stitch up this panicking four-year-old, another stands next to him trying to keep me occupied. He makes silly faces and fart noises, anything to take my mind off the needle sewing me back together like a Frankenstein monster. I distinctly remember being really annoyed at this guy, because, hey man, do you mind? My friggin’ arm guts are hanging out over here. But hey, he was just doing his job and helping out a scared kid. He didn’t have to do it at all.
Now I’m all stitched up and it seems like my day is just completely ruined. No Ninja Turtles movie for me. I’ve been bad; hospital bad. As it turns out, my parents are much smarter than their four-year-old, and they know that movie theaters offer more than one screening per day. Besides, their kid just survived his first trip to the emergency room. That deserves some kind of treat, right?
So once the afternoon from Hell is over, they take me to an evening showing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. As the Turtles leap onto the screen for the first time and the title card pops up, my stitched and bandaged arm was the last thing on my mind. I was in kid movie heaven. This wasn’t the first movie I saw in theaters, but it was the first one I remember being excited for, and after the ordeal I’d just gone through, the first one I remember seeing in vivid detail.
My dad remembers it as clearly as I do. To this day he’ll sometimes point at the scar and apologize for it. I honestly never blamed him. After all, I’m the idiot 4-year-old who put a sharp object in his pocket. But more than that, my dad is a little bit nostalgic for these movies, too. He was never a big fan or anything, but the movies were special. They were something fun and silly that he could enjoy with his son. And he still enjoys them as much as I do. Even now, he’ll sometimes call or text me when one of them is on TV. And I guarantee you he still watches them start to finish.
Today, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is little more than a bargain basement video relic. Where the original still plays well as an early-90s B-movie time capsule, the sequel hasn’t aged quite as gracefully. Even compared to the first movie, the villains are hokier and the Turtles turn the annoying teen shtick up to eleven. Still, it’s got an obnoxious sort of charm to it that makes it the perfect movie for a four-year-old. Having now seen him in everything from The Omen to Time Bandits to Titanic, it’s a weird kind of delight to see David Warner slumming it as a TGRI scientist. And as much as we all make fun of it, you can’t tell me you don’t know all the words to Vanilla Ice’s ridiculous Ninja Rap. Most of them are “Go! Go! Go! Go!” so there’s really no excuse.
Is there a moral or lesson to this story? Not necessarily, but it’s not often you remember exactly where you were 25 years ago, and this time it just so happens to coincide with a movie I remember very fondly. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II honestly isn’t a film I revisit often, but I’m reminded of it every time I look down at the scar on my arm. That scar has begun to fade, but my memory of the movie and that day never will.
Then again, maybe that’s where the movie should stay.Liked This? Share It!