Horror Movie Mutants

Monsters. Mutants. Toys! In the 90s, TMNT exploded on the classic horror scene with some of the best figures to ever be released. Two waves of Universal Monsters-inspired figures made their way onto store shelves. From Wolfman Leonardo to Bride of Frankenstein April, toy creators behaved like mad scientists - taking the momentum of the TMNT popularity and mutating it with the likeness of classic horror movie monsters. Even today, these figures are held in extremely high regard from collectors.

Despite the Universal Monsters' iconic status, they never scared me as a kid. Their imagery was legendary, but lacked the venom of the then-current wave of horror movie icons. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween - these films were still being released in theaters and scaring the heck out of me when I eventually saw them on cable television. As much as I loved Frankenstein, I couldn't say the same about his films. The famous monster evolved over the decades, becoming more of a symbol and less of a scare tactic.

As a TMNT-obsessed kid, I wanted my mutants horrifying! I dreamt of a mutated crossover, mashing up both TMNT and horror movie slashers in toy form. Unfortunately, we never saw that day. The 90s were a time before the internet, custom action figures, and the popularity of adult toy collectors. Luckily, I was an imaginative kid. Movies were make believe, so why couldn't my toys be too? Well, that's just what I did. With a little imagination, I pretended a batch of my TMNT action figures were actually horror movie maniacs. 

I'm giving you a peek behind the curtain, a toy box filled with horror movie mutants. This is how I played with my Turtles toys around Halloween. Some of it makes sense, a lot of doesn't. But, that's the spirit of Halloween, right?



The legendary Friday the 13th movie series presented something all too familiar for me - the woods. As a kid growing up in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey, I thrived from exploring a land covered in tall trees, thick brush, and annoying ticks. The legendary Jersey Devil wasn't the only monster I was afraid of either...there was also Jason Vorhees. The slasher icon was the king of killing in the woods. Before Jason visited Manhattan or space, his go-to spot for massacre was the back country, which magnified the fear for a kid whose backyard butted against an endless forest of pine trees. I often wondered if Jason was lurking in there...maybe taking naps between murders in one of my forts?

The fear was fun. Jason's scary antics made me love the woods, and the Friday the 13th franchise, even more. He was the first horror movie maniac I wanted in TMNT toy form. My childhood dreams saw toy makers releasing a machete-wielding, hockey mask-wearing Leonardo. How cool would Sewer Slaughtin' Leonardo have been?! Unfortunately, kids don't call the shots. But luckily, the TMNT franchise had a character in their arsenal who could act as a Jason Vorhees understudy, Casey Jones! The action figure from 80s had the key element for the part - the iconic hockey mask. With a little imagination, the New York vigilante morphed into the supreme slayer of Camp Crystal Lake.


Freddy Krueger. The dude was a spooky villain like no other, elevating himself into celebrity status. Kids might not have known who James Woods, Meg Ryan, and other 80s actors were, but you could bet the farm Freddy Kruger was a household name. The Nightmare on Elm Street series were 80s horror at its best, but it was Freddy's super cool, knive-weilding glove that sucked me in. The deathly device was responsible for so many iconic, hair-raising scenes that still resonate with me today. But, my favorite thing about Freddy's vicious glove of knives? It reminds me of TMNT's Shredder!

Super Shredder and Freddy Krueger have the same mission statement - destroy teenagers! At the most desperate of times, they fell to the most desperate of measures to complete their task of carnage. Freddy haunts dreams, Shredder drinks mutagen - both clear signs of dudes who have taken teenage slaughter too far. While Freddy only had one hand of weaponry for inducing fear, Super Shredder clearly has the edge with an entire body of knives. Ironically, it's Freddy who has racked up way more kills. Super Shredder doesn't even come close to harming anyone...except himself. But, that didn't stop me from occasionally pretending my Super Shredder toy was a jacked up Freddy Krueger.

One, two, Super Shredder is coming for you...


In 1978, Halloween's Michael Myers put slasher movies on the map. The flick smashed box office records, received critical praise, and defined the horror genre for decades. But, there were no toys!

How is Don, The Undercover Turtle, a mutant in a trench coat, anything like the crazed killer, Michael Myers? It's all in the rubber face mask. One of the key aspects that made the original Halloween movie so special was the mask Michael Myers wore. It's decaying white exuded a creepy corpselike visual that still spooks me to this day.

The trench coat is also a lot like Michael's jumpsuit. Aside from their masks, both guys have just one piece to their wardrobe. Simplicity is scary. What makes humans cool is their passion for showcasing their character. Fun t-shirts, zany socks, mutton chops - we thrive off personalization. But Don, The Undercover Turtle and Michael Myers are stripped of personality. Instead, they try to hide behind bland attire and lifeless masks. But hey, at least Donnie's mask has an award-worthy mustache!


Best thing as a kid?
Playing with your toys!

Scariest thing as a kid?
Your toys being possessed by a homicidal maniac and trying to steal your soul.

Child's Play was the very first horror movie that really scared me. As outlandish and eye-rolling as the premise is, it seemed all too possible in my childhood days. My room was filled with toys. Could one of be a serial killer? I'd hide under my TMNT blanket just thinking about it! I wasn't use to this fear. Being scared was a new feeling to me at this age. Chucky from Child'a Play rattled me into a new, dark territory. But for some strange reason, I liked it. Being scared was fun!

I credit these movies about a goofy killer doll for spawning my love of horror movies. Child's Play combined all the elements I loved as a kid - toys, spooky Halloween-like vibes, and a journey into the unknown. Being a TMNT collector even back then, I really wanted a Chucky action figure. It would be decades later until I got that chance, childhood me was forced to improvise. It wasn't a pretty solution, but it was a solution. Troll Raphael was my Chucky toy. This was the closest I could come up with. Both toys had wild red hair, puffy cheeks and a wacky knife. Like Chucky, Troll Raphael also had that special quality destine for a horror movie - he made you feel uncomfortable. Is it the dull smile? The bloodthirsty gaze from his eyes? Whatever it is, this was no ordinary toy. You couldn't fight the Foot Clan with Troll Raphael. Instead, you could brush his hair...or just assumed he was possessed by a serial killer.


My relationship with IT is like a traveling circus. It comes into my life, puts on a show, leaves town, and then returns years later with a new act. I first saw IT in the 90s as a kid. A friend rented the film on VHS, and this was no ordinary VHS either. Due to its long running time, IT was released on a 2-tape set, giving us the impression that this experience would be like no other. The flick was spooky, but didn't have the same impact other horror movies had on me. Later in life, the traveling IT circus returned. I read the Stephen King novel, absorbing every page of literary awesomeness. The book was the best thing I did that summer. I loved it. Years later, I re-watched the 90s movie in an effort to see if I missed something the first time around. Now, there's a new IT movie currently in the works. The traveling circus...it comes, it goes.

But, Crazy Clown Mike is a spectacle that's here to stay. Ever since I got this wacky toy, I can't look at him without thinking of Pennywise the Clown. Mikey might be a mutant clown, but he has the makings of a sadistic clown. His wardrobe is uncomfortable, his grin is disturbing, and his collection of purple balloons is begging to be branded with Pennywise the Clown's iconic catchphrase, "we all float down here." Over the years, the toy has built its own infamous, Pennywise the Clown-like reputation. It kills any legitimacy to a toy collection. Yet, I own it.

We all float down in The Sewer Den.


80s horror movies weren't always surefire hits. For every Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street that hit theaters, audiences were also subjected to movies like Chopping Mall. The movie bombed at the box office and was panned by critics when released in 1986. Despite stumbling out of the gate, the flick has found a cult following over the years. More and more horror fans are discovering the absurdity of Chopping Mall (me being one of them). And let's be real, this no good movie. The plot is painful, following a group of security robots turned rogue that go on a killing spree, hunting teenage employees inside a shopping mall after dark. It's cheesy and often poorly executed, but there's a certain charm to killer 80s robots hacking down dumb teenagers. If you've got 90 minutes and a couple bucks to waste, it's worth that and that alone.

Much like Chopping Mall, the classic TMNT cartoon series all too often slipped into its own wheel of cheese. Episodes later in the show's run often seemed like they were parodying themselves. Plots became goofier, characters' motives more questionable. When the horror genre got desperate for fresh ideas, Chopping Mall was the answer. When the TMNT cartoon got desperate for fresh ideas, Robotic Bebop & Rocksteady were the answer. The dumb duo in robotic form are B-movie awesome. And just like Chopping Mall, they're out to take down some teenagers!

With the release of countless TMNT toys and a consistent crop of scary films, there are so many more horror movie mutant possibilities. Halloween is the time for tricks, treats, and toys! What cinema slasher would you pretend to see in your favorite mutant figure?

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