Issue 28: Turtle Tapes


Do you remember that feeling? It was just a simple push of a button, but it was the most tedious of tasks. Occasionally it was quiet, but usually the thing mimicked a fighter jet taking off in your living room.

Rewinding a VHS tape. A process that would leave the kids of today dumbfounded. It was sad ritual that wasted countless moments of your life during the 1980's to the mid 90's. If you were fancy, you had one of those high-tech tape rewinders to save some time. But if you were like me, you were spooling those VHS tapes in your struggling VCR.

VHS tapes didn't give you much bang for your buck either. The picture quality would degrade over time. Repeated viewings of your favorite tape would ultimately bring the movie to its knees. Whereas most of the memorabilia within The Sewer Den has stood the test of time, the collection of VHS Turtle tapes has not. My eight year old eyeballs burned these things into oblivion. The quality mutated from bad to worse over the years. One VHS after another, the Turtles continually blasted their way through the TV screen, feeding into the TMNT phenomenon, but killing my tape collection.

Although the technology failed, the packaging has not. The VHS tapes have hibernated all these years, shelled inside these stellar cardboard containers. The artwork is an awesome throwback to the VHS-era when they reigned supreme. While I won't be diving into many screenshots or video clips, I will fondly venture into my anthology of Turtle tapes. From the cartoon to movies (and a weird thing in-between), I'll discuss the packaging artwork and sentimental moments with this lousy technology. Don't hit the pause button, dudes. Read long.


With the first two episodes of the series mashed together on one VHS, this video introduces the world to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 41 minutes, the origin story unravels as the legendary cartoon franchise is born. April, Shredder, Rocksteady, and Bebop also make their first appearances - quickly solidifying themselves as icons within the TMNT universe. These episodes started the phenomenon.

There are also a handful of legitimate fight scenes in this tape. The Turtles face off against a band of Foot Soldiers and a clan of clunky robots - destroying them all with their weapons of choice. As the series continued, the green machines did this less and less. The swords and knives were put on the back burners for whip cream pies and banana peels.

This tape also featured a rare glimpse of Rocksteady and Bebop in human form, before their transformation into mutated baddies. As a kid, this always felt like a forbidden peek into the past…getting a quick glance at what these clowns looked like as normal people.

Turtles Tracks
Enter The Shredder

Fond Memory?
This tape was the first one in my collection. An excellent birthday gift (sadly I can't remember from who!). But, I do remember I popping this piece of plastic in the VCR the very next morning before school. This was the beginning of the end for this poor tape. Repeated, nonstop viewings killed this quick.



With a title like this, this episode was destine to be a classic. Case of the Killer Pizzas rolls off the tongue and is a pure joy (especially if you're a kid). This is when the Ninja Turtle franchise really started cooking. Each Turtle was settling into their particular personality and the villains were growing on us at a rapid pace. Just when things couldn't get any better, audiences were hit with this classic.

Two episodes once again bundled into one collection. However, this time around they are stand alone episodes - no connecting arc like the Heroes In A Half Shell VHS. But, Case Of The Killer Pizzas throws plenty of monsters and mutants into the mix - totally taking the VCR by storm.


Honestly, I can barely recount a solid synopsis of these episodes. But, my vague memories of this tape are engulfed in nostalgia. I was all smiles when those pizza monsters hatched.

Case of the Killer Pizzas
Enter The Fly

Fond Memory?
The second episode contained the pivotal moment where Baxtor Stockman was mutated into a fly. That by itself is a solid piece of TMNT history. 

But from the first episode on the tape, I can still hear Mikey's voice screaming out "It's the case of the killer pizzas!" That sound bite is etched into my brain. His inflection, the pure silliness of the line, and his facial expression dug deep into my mind and I don't think I'll ever shake it.


Ah, the Burger King Kids Club. The Happy Meal's number one rival. The Club has popped up on The Sewer Den a few times before. From posters to bike accessories, the Burger King Kids Club certainly milked the TMNT phenomenon. The onslaught of crossover promotion would not be complete without a venture into the world of video tapes.

The deal was simple. Buy a Burger King Kids Club meal, pay a few dollars more, and you would score this sweet Turtles tape. What kid could resist? There was no choice. Pester your poor parents until they shelled out the extra bucks for the video.

What can I say about Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers? I'd like to go into an elaborate story about how I spent heaps of time nestled on the couch absorbing the magic of this video. But alas, that wasn't the case. Out of almost 200 episodes, this one was my least favorite. Quite a feat! But, Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers was just bad enough to do it. The premise was trite, putting our favorite characters in uninspiring situations. Looking for that TMNT, fun-loving humor? Nope, not here. The laughs are few and far between. The episode also features an alien that is, hands down, the most annoying thing I have ever witnessed on TV.

Fond Memory?
Not fond, but my pure disdain for this vile VHS is impressive. Being grounded was better than watching this episode.



Alright, let's get something out of the way right off the bat. The full title of the episode on this video is "Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X." But, the front of the box simply says "Hot Rodding Teenagers" - the added "From Dimension X" isn't listed on the cover, but is listed on the back. Why do I mention this? "Hot Rodding Teenagers" does NOT sound like the title for a children's video, but rather an adult film. Actually, "Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X" sounds even more like an adult film! Add two more X's in that title and the tape is ready for the 18 and older crowd.

This is a title I don't think Master Splinter would be too proud of...

Poor naming choices aside, the main episode on this video is a must-see. The Turtles meet their fun-loving and party-craving friends, the Neutrinos, from Dimension X. This gang of trippy looking teens mesh brilliantly with the Turtles. Their language and humor is much like the brothers - sharp, witty, and full of silliness. With the combination of the Turtles AND the Neutrinos, this one reigned in as an instant classic.

Hot Rodding Teenagers (From Dimension X)
A Thing About Rats (I rarely watched this one due to my dedication to the previous episode...always rewinding the tape back to those Neutrinos!)

Fond Memory?
The Neutrinos - introducing all of these bizarre characters was jaw-dropping as a kid. There was a specific line that one of the Neutrinos spouts off in the episode, "Cats and kittens, do you dig, what I dig?" At a glance, that writing looks horrific. It even sounds weird read out loud. But as a kid, that simple sentence became legendary. My friends and I found ourselves constantly quoting it. The line was goofy and gimmicky, but harnessed the same charm as their iconic "cowabunga" catchphrase. We truly loved it.

You dig? Cause we certainly did.



Does anyone hail the third Turtles flick as their favorite? After slicing through the sound of crickets, you'll surprisingly find people who still own this movie - including me. Certainly not a shining star in any fan's video collection, but still an important staple in the TMNT legacy. The movie is a glorified television episode. The only real bonus is that the Turtles traded their cartoon form for a live-action adventure.

Gripes, complaints, and negative criticisms aside, this is still a flick showcasing our endearing heroes. They provide a few solid laughs throughout the movie to keep the love alive. Before even popping this piece of plastic into your VCR, there are a few goodies on the packaging to make you giggle.

An inconsistent title! Is it TMNT III or TMNT 3? The Turtles third flick is unsure of itself. The cover is marked with a classy set of Roman numerals, while the sides and top of the box display a simple 3. Obviously nothing major, but an omen indeed...foreshadowing the type of film you are about to watch.

There was also a coupon book included with the video. An advertisement is printed, opposed to a sticker, directly on the front of the box. But, the promotion does its job - your attention derails quickly from the Turtles to the advertisement. What deals did the coupon book contain? I only remember a discount for Hanes underwear. That creeped me out as a kid (and still freaks me out today). I just wanted to watch the Turtles when I purchased this video, not think about buying some tighty whiteys.

Fond Memory?
As a kid, I loved this flick. I didn't know much about Japan's history and sadly this sparked a lot interest. Not the best place to find a history lesson, but hey, the internet wasn't exactly at my fingertips in 1993.

Also, Casey Jones rejoined the cast! He was, and still is, the best bit of fun in the original film. Even though his role is a water-downed version of his original performance, I'll take it. The guy is pure gold.



This is your run of the mill videotape. The movie poster is simply slapped on the front of the packaging and a little synopsis plopped on the back. Pretty straightforward, right?

Well, the packaging leaves out the quintessential feature of all VHS tapes - the previews! Most of the time, people complained about the coming attractions and fast-forward through the advertisements. But, not me. For some reason, I was infatuated with the previews in front of Secret of the Ooze.

The advertisements on this video covered a heck of a lot of ground. After the static clears off the television screen, the tape starts with a commercial for the Burger King Kids Club (Burger King and TMNT team ups never end!). 

The ad goes like this - an innocent kid walks into the famous fast food chain and, to his surprise, finds the misfit gang of cartoons behind the counter. 

He places his order and the Burger King Kids Club all chip in and happily create his meal. It's the standard live-action meets animation style that hooks kids right in - even back in 92.

After the appearance of the Burger King Kids Club, the video puts another 90's icon into the ring. Enter Hulk Hogan in his comedic romp, Suburban Commando.

The famous Christopher Lloyd, known best as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future films, also brings his acting chops to the table. This dynamic duo teams up to provide 90 minutes of pure hijinks. I never saw the film as a kid, but the preview was pumped with so much entertainment, I immediately catapulted the film into "classic" status.

Jump ahead to my adult years - 2010. The Suburban Commando preview from the Secret of the Ooze tape is still a vivid memory. Deep in my mind, I truly believe the movie is an iconic 90's film that I never got the chance to see. But then, an opportunity presents itself. A friend points out the flick is available on-demand (a non-existent technology back in 1992). Finally, the day has come. I venture over to my friend's place to take in the film of a lifetime...

After decades of personal hype, how did Suburban Commando rate? Wow, the movie is an absolute mess.

In that 90 minutes, I was constantly clenching my gut. But no, I was not in stitches. Zero laughs, dude. Instead, I was constantly cringing. How could THE Doc Brown and wrestling's biggest superstar join forces and produce THIS?! It was worse than the Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers VHS! Sigh. The legendary status of Suburban Commando came crumbling down...

BUT, there was (is) hope.

Following Suburban Commando, there was another preview on the Secret of the Ooze tape. Step Kids - another movie falling into the comedy genre. The preview presents a grungy teenage girl who talks directly to the camera and summarizes the film. She blabs on about divorced parents, step children, and life in the 90's. It's a pure family farce, or as she refers to it "the Brady Bunch from hell," a.k.a. an esemble cast of actors who saw their careers tank after this production. But as a kid, Step Kids looked awesome! Packed with jokes that went over my head, snarky teenage girls, and larger than life cell phones - this movie must be a sure hit.

And that is why THIS film is hopeful. Much like Suburban Commando (before I watched it as an adult), Step Kids finds itself in the same strange position of being iconic based purely on the VHS preview. I never saw the flick - so I still want to believe it is probably hilarious and full of fun. But after the travesty of Suburban Comando, I never want to. My childhood was beaten to a bloody pulp once, but I won't let it happen again. Step Kids is one of the best movies ever, yet I have never seen it, and never will.

Fond Memory?
PREVIEWS! Hands down, the best previews on a video tape EVER.



The quintessential movie of my youth arrived on video tape in the early 90's. Pure cinema gold was in my tiny hands and immediately thrust into our VCR. The silver screen adventure had been mutated down to fit our small 19 inch tv. The movie magic once again grabbed a hold of me and never let go - right in our living room! The illustrious power of VHS video tape showed its true power.

What followed was countless viewings of the Turtles' first flick. Moment by moment, line by line, the entire movie eventually embedded itself into my brain. Even though a few jokes flew right over my head, I could still passionately recite entire scenes - like some sort of twisted Shakespearean monologue filled with "cowabungas."

Like Secret of the Ooze, this video tape had a preview before the feature film. But, the advertisement was not nearly as legendary. This spot was a lot more simple and not as entertaining. As a result, I found myself fast-forwarding through it quite often.

But, it was for PIZZA HUT! Makes perfect sense, right? The Turtles love their cheesy pies, so their first adventure on home video was destine for a Pizza Hut advertisement. The pizza chain had the opportunity of a lifetime as millions of TMNT fans would be watching this tape.

But instead, the advertisement falls flat. A nervous little league baseball player catches a routine fly ball in the outfield and somehow saves the game. The team heads to Pizza Hut to celebrate the victory.

This all happens over one of the worst songs ever written. The singer's voice, inflection, and pitch are so cringe worthy, the track is borderline painful. Pizza Hut can sure make a pie, but they can not write a song.

Fond Memory?
If you ever have the urge to read the script for the Turtles' first film, don't. Just give me a buzz - I can recite that whole thing for you. Blame our VHS copy. This never would have happened if we only went to the movies.



When I was in college, a friend randomly presented me with this tape as a gift. Although I was slightly confused by his generosity, I accepted the token of Turtle appreciation.

This was another one of those classic TMNT tapes with a few of the series' earlier episodes. Although I caught these on tv as a kid, it wasn't until my college years that I got the opportunity to watch these gems on home video.

My college roommates and I gathered around our rickety tube tv that was old enough to have a built-in VCR. Our dorm wasn't exactly the best destination for a theater-like experience, but the Cowabunga Shredhead tape brought us college boys together for a few nostalgic laughs. The episode was a pure TMNT classic - and marked the first time as an adult I relived the glory days of the cartoon. It had been about 10 years! The memories of Turtle-themed birthday parties, my action figure collection, the Halloween costumes - the whole lot, began buzzing about in my mind. Was this the moment? Was the closet door containing my TMNT skeletons slowly opening?

Yes. A big yes.

Fond Memory?
One of the big contributors to my TMNT resurgence. The Turtles were still embracing their teenage years, while I was clinging on at 19. Although the VHS format was on its deathbed, this video tape resurrected my love for the green machines. Ironic, no?



No lies, no bologna. I've never watched this tape. But Shredder, you've gotta listen to reason...

Similar to the Turtles in the sewer, I work in a room without windows. As a result, much of my free time is spent exploring the world. Naturally, I always keep my eyes peeled for TMNT merchandise during these excursions. Usually I return home empty handed. But on those rare occasions, something grabs a hold of me tightly, and I manage to come home with a platinum purchase.

A few months back I found myself in a small town in upstate New York. Combing through the aisles of a dingy thrift store was proving unsuccessful. A few solid books and a heap of fun baseball paraphania, but no signs of any Ninja nuggets of gold. But then...

The tune of Ninja Rap slowly started building in my head. With every inch that I moved closer to the tape, the beats of bass thumped harder and harder. The video slid into my hands and the whole store ignited in the sounds of Ninja Rap. Vanilla Ice had arrived - on home video!

My wallet was open within seconds - immediately forking over the $1.50 for this totally tubular treasure. After all, Ninja Rap was #1 on my Top 10 List on TMNT 2: Secret of the Ooze. Now, Ninja Rap was officially a part of The Sewer Den.

But alas, I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet! Blame technology, no one has a VCR anymore. It's painful having this tape, like I struck oil the day the world transitioned to solar power.

A little research tells me I have a music video and an interview awaiting me on this VHS. Let me tell you, the anticipation is MONUMENTAL.


The way we ingest our entertainment will be ever evolving. I was raised on Turtles tapes, the next generation on DVDs, and the current one is diving in digitally. But, the outcome will always the same - kids embracing Turtles entertainment. Luckily today, the generation of young TMNT fans doesn't have to sweat the small stuff. Rewinding tapes, tracking the picture, fast forwarding through the previews - nostalgic memories for sure, but man, what a pain! Anyone who misses the intricacies of VHS, please don't. Hit play on an HD episode of the latest TMNT series and you'll find a similar magic...minus the madness of your VCR.

Be kind, please rewind.


  1. Just want to say, THANK YOU for building this page; these entries are fantastic and really mean something to me & my green heart.

  2. Super entertaining article! Excellent!

  3. Wow, your VHS collection pretty much matches mine.
    I had a dozen of the Vanilla Ice "Ninja Rap" tapes when I was working at Suncoast back in the day, and I just handed them out to people as random birthday gifts until they were gone, and I was left with the one I still have.
    You should track down a player it is worth a viewing at least.

    1. A dozen "Ninja Rap" tapes?! Whoa! I like to imagine you swimming in them...a la Scrooge McDuck in his fortune of gold and goodies.

  4. Pop culture is finally hitting the eject button on the VHS tape. Now this the age of CD or DVD. So transfer all your old memories and films onto a DVD or CD. VHS to DVD Transfer


Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.

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