On Set Cinema: The TMNT Farmhouse

"It's time to go back."

A pivotal quote from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released in 1990. It's a big moment in the movie. Our heroes find themselves refreshed & recalibrated after a major defeat, now ready to leave their farmhouse escape and return to New York City to face off against the Foot Clan. It signals the Turtle Power has returned.

Like the Turtles, I felt ready to return to the fight. After hiding out the last couple years because of the pandemic and becoming a parent, it was "time to go back." My return wasn't to New York City though, but the general TMNT community. Without comic cons, movie screenings or even the simple meeting of friends, the Turtle Powered experiences have been limited. Enter On Set Cinema - an ongoing, traveling film series that takes the cinema experience a step further with rare movie screenings of cult favorites and horror classics at their actual filming locations. On September 11, 2021 in Currie, North Carolina, On Set Cinema hosted a TMNT event, screening the original 1990 movie at the legendary farmhouse featured in the film. Not only could you watch the film at this iconic film location, but you could also camp there overnight! For me, this opportunity was the ultimate return to the Ninja Turtles community. Indeed, it was "time to go back."

Four heroes made the trek to North Carolina for the event. But instead of Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello & Michelangelo, it was Zach, Jesse, Simon & me. We all came from different parts of the country, so it was pretty spectacular to not only be together, but be together at such an iconic location for us Turtles fans. The moment we arrived, we immediately hoofed it to the farmhouse for a photo. Can you really blame us? 

The house has had significant renovations since its appearance in the 1990 film. The weathered charm of the old farmhouse is gone. It's in actual livable condition, a space now meant to house humans instead of mutants on the run. But its modernized style didn't takeaway from the overall experience in the slightest. You can't expect something to stay exactly the same over 30 years later. However, the bones of the place were still in tact... which meant for more great photo opportunities.

We wandered the property, exploring and reliving our favorite movie moments. I embraced my inner-Casey Jones and recreated a few of his best scenes. It was cool stepping foot where Elias Koteas brought this kooky character to life and created the first film version of Casey Jones. The dude is a legend. 

Step away from the house and you'll find more filming locations. Our next stop was the garage where Casey Jones and Donatello play mechanic and fix an old pickup truck while swapping silly insults. "I'm ready hose brain!"

Across from the garage is the barn. Not much happened here in the movie except for the moment where Raphael screams SPLINTERRRRR from the roof into the dark night. We weren't permitted to climb the barn to recreate this shot, which was probably for the best. No one wants a nerd with broken legs ruining the event.

A guided tour led us inside the house which made the experience extraordinarily special. Fans have visited the farmhouse property in secret for years, but being inside the place was a first for most. The On Set Cinema mastermind, Kenny, walked us through the home and outlined all the interior connections to the film. 

The house has been remodeled so much, a lot of the original movie magic was left to the imagination. Rooms have completely transformed since 1990. Although most spots didn't resemble their on-film counterparts, that didn't stop us from reliving the movie throughout the place. 

So many iconic filming locations, so many Kodak moments.

The highlight of touring the grounds was my camping spot. Set behind the house and amongst the trees, I pitched my tent right where the Turtles did their farmhouse training. My weapons weren't swords, sais, nunchucks or a bo staff, but rather a sleeping bag, pillow, lantern & a tent. A magical place to hunker down and camp the night, even if I was more worried about bears than the Foot Clan.

Once the sun settled behind the farmhouse, it was time for the main event. The projector fired up, beams of spellbinding light struck the screen, the crowd howled and the cinematic greatness of 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles commenced. The stars and moon hung over us, the farmhouse as our backdrop. Our four heroes appeared on the silver screen and the movie magic radiated through the crisp September sky. I'm not dreaming, am I? Then, within those first enchanting minutes of the film, I spilled Mountain Dew in my lap and got bit by mosquito. To quote Casey Jones, "tough rocks, pal."

The On Set Cinema adventure was a blast. A big shout out and much love to my travel pals and ninja crew, Simon, Jesse & Zach (listen to Zach's TMNT podcast, BooyakaShow!). Our fearsome four made the event truly special. It was incredibly rewarding, even therapeutic, to "go back" and be surrounded by the TMNT community. Much love for everyone for being there. It's unreal a film from 1990 not only holds up, but can bring people together decades later. Cowabunga forever.

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