In 1991, just a year after the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film was released, fans were treated to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. The first movie was a smash hit when it was released.
Nowadays the Turtles are created via CGI motion-capture effects; these iterations of the characters look decent enough, but Secret of the Ooze was a part of the original trilogy in which the titular characters were brought to life by the legendary Jim Henson Company. Even though they ranged from guilty nostalgic pleasure to downright awful, the first couple TMNT movies at least had the charm of their groundbreaking costumes.
Secret of the Ooze picks up just months after the first movie left off. The Shredder returns from his near-death experience with a trash compactor while the Turtles try to find a new home while living with April in the meantime. This movie introduced a ton of new character into the Turtles lore such as Keno, Professor Perry, and (of course) Tokka and Rahzar.
Though it wasn't as good as the first movie (by a long shot), most Turtle fans look back at Secret of the Ooze with fond memories. The making of this nostalgic hit had a lot going on behind the scenes.
Here are 16 Things You Didn't Know About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.
As anti-climactic as it may have been, we got to see the Shredder take on Splinter at the finale of the first TMNT movie. The result was Splinter letting Oroku Saki plummet dozens of stories off a building into a garbage truck. Casey Jones finished off 'ol Shred-head with the simple flick of a lever, seemingly crushing the villain to death. However, Secret of the Ooze starts with Saki emerging from a pile of trash in the landfill.
Originally, Shredder wasn't supposed to come back. The Turtles have a huge selection of villains to choose from. Eastman and Laird (the Turtle's creators) wanted the sequel to focus specifically on Baxter Stockman and his mousers, but producers were too worried about the logistics of action scenes involving the robots. Instead they brought back Shredder and Stockman's character was changed into Professor Perry.
For a movie entitled The Secret of the Ooze, the story really didn't reveal much about the mutagen. Sure, we get to find out where it was created and what it could do, but there was nothing Earth-shattering about its origin.
It was accidentally created in a lab experiment. So what?
The original reason the TMNT sequel got the title it did was because there was intended to be a huge reveal about the mutagen halfway through the movie. In the comic book series, the Ooze that transformed the turtles was discovered to be the product of the alien Utrom race.
The idea of the TMNT sequel was to have the reveal set up the famous Utrom/Triceraton/Fugitoid story for the third film. The idea was scrapped, and the secret of the ooze was left as an ominous mystery in the title.
If fans thought Donatello's voice sounded familiar in the TMNT movies, that's because he was voiced by legendary '80s actor Corey Feldman. This guy was essentially to the '80s what Macaulay Culkin was to the '90s. Starring in films like The Goonies, Stand By Me, Gremlins, and The Lost Boys, Feldman was at the top of his game in 1990.
Like many stars at the height of their careers, Feldman had demons to battle.
The actor went through a very public struggle with substance abuse during his young adult life, and was in and out of rehab multiple times through the '90s. The filming of Secret of the Ooze ran concurrent to one of these stints, which meant that producers had to replace Feldman with voice actor Adam Carl. Corey would return for the ill-fated TMNT III.
What would the Turtles be without their weapons? Each of the four brothers uses their weapon of choice to complement their personal style of fighting. Raph's brutal style matches his Sai. Mikey's flashy and over-the-top style goes perfect with Nunchucks.
Their weapons are so important that they almost act as an extension of their own body!
After the super dark tone of the first movie, parents were not happy. They expected their kids to see the same goofy action that was in the cartoon, but instead they got Raph shouting expletives, brutal fights, and themes involving teenage delinquency. To avoid this problem in the sequel, producers barely allowed the Turtles to use their weapons and instead made them fight most of their enemies hand-to-hand.
When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze were released, Turtle-mania was at its high point. The cartoon was in its third or fourth season, the NES games were selling like hot cakes, and the franchise itself was a hot commodity in the advertising world. Though its popularity has fluctuated through the years, the series has been consistently going since the '80s.
As crazy as it sounds, there were many people who felt TMNT was just a fad that was going to fizzle out. After the massive success of the first movie, New Line wanted to push out a sequel as quickly as they possibly could before it was too late. The result was a sequel that was shot and released in less than a year after the first entry came out. That's some turn-around time!
When you think of allies to the TMNT, who first comes to mind? After Splinter and April, Casey Jones is probably your answer! The hockey-mask wearing vigilante is the perfect foil to Raphael; he has the same sarcastic, grumpy demeanor and is often depicted as just as brutal!
Over the years we've gotten a bunch of iterations of Casey, from an insane buffoon to a teenage law enforcer. Elias Koteas' Casey was a fan favorite, but was mysteriously absent in Secret of the Ooze.
This was mostly due to parent complaints about the first movie.
Casey was seen as a terrible role model for kids, using everyday sports equipment to beat thugs to a pulp. They also complained that his hockey mask costume scared their children. When Casey returned in the third movie, he was severely toned down; he didn't wear his mask or use his weapons at all.
The Turtles have always had a strange relationship with the UK. In those countries during the '80s and '90s, violence in TV and movies was heavily censored. The censors felt that the "Ninja" Turtles fell under this category, which led to the series being retitled Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK.
One of the hottest points of contention was Michelangelo's nunchucks. Throughout the European version of the cartoon Mikey's famous weapon was edited out; this eventually led to him switching over to using a grappling hook permanently. In the second movie, the UK took issue with the scene in which Mikey used a chain of link sausages as makeshift nunchucks, as they felt it was too close to the real thing. The scene was completely edited out in the European cut of the movie!
On top of the lack of Casey Jones and the toned-down violence in Secret of the Ooze, fans will notice that April O'Neil is played by a completely different actress in the sequel. Judith Hoag portrayed the heroine in the original movie, but was replaced by Paige Turco for TMNT II and TMNT III. Actors get replaced all the time. Was this because of money? Was Hoag just disinterested in playing the part again? Did she have conflicting projects?
The reality of the situation was that Hoag got herself fired. Or at least, her actions caused her not to be asked back!
During the production of TMNT: The Movie, the actress allegedly kept complaining about the direction of the film. She was also outspoken against the level of violence in the movie, and defended director Steve Barron after he was fired. As a result, Hoag was kicked to the curb.
We've been talking about the tonal issue throughout the entire list so far, but that's because it's an important one! Parents may have been upset about the dark and violent PG-13 tone of the original film, but Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, the Turtle's creators, certainly weren't.
The original comic book varied between R-rated and heavy PG-13 material, and TMNT: The Movie followed the comics nearly to a tee.
When the sequel went into production, the creators and the movie's producers clashed over the movie's tone. Eastman and Laird refused to put "goofy" characters like Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang in the script. Meanwhile, producers felt that those characters would have made it more like the insanely-popular cartoon (and would have made the film print money).
A compromise was made in the end: the movie would be lighthearted, with new mutant villains and a comic-inspired (though different) story.
The Ninja Turtles and Guns 'N Roses. You can't get any more late '80s/early '90s than those two!
While Turtlemania was going on, Axl Rose and Slash's rock band was churning out hit after massive hit. Even today, years after the band broke up, the two rock icons can still sell out a stadium and put on a hell of a show!
Unfortunately, Rose was notorious for being late to his own concerts.
Funnily enough, Axl Rose nearly missed playing one of his shows because of the Turtles. In December of 1991, the singer's manager had to inform his bandmates that he was going to be late because he was watching The Secret of the Ooze. He was quoted as saying that "Axl's attention was 100% on the movie and couldn't be bothered [for the concert]."
April and the Turtles are both looking for a new place to live during The Secret of the Ooze. The first story saw the Foot invading the Turtle's sewer lair and kidnapping Splinter and then burning down April's apartment and store during their epic battle.
At the start of the sequel, the brothers and their master are living with O'Neil in her new apartment - though they eventually find a new place to call their own.
The legendary Jim Henson Creature Shop was the studio responsible for designing the intricate animatronic costumes for the Turtles Trilogy. As a homage to the company that brought the characters to life, the director decided to use the front of the building as the front for April's new apartment. Though it only gets a few seconds of screen time, it's a nice little nod to the studio that made the magic happen!
Why didn't we get more of Super Shredder?! At the climax (technically the second climax) of Secret of the Ooze, the Turtles discover that the Shredder was accidentally exposed to the mutagen and transformed into a hulking "Super Shredder." Shredder looks to now be unstoppable, until he angrily brings down the entire peer on his head, killing him instantly. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise awesome character.
As if you needed any more reason to love Super Shredder, it turns out the actor under the mask was none other than WCW and WWE's Kevin Nash! During his long wrestling career, Nash appeared in and won multiple championships. Currently he returns to the spotlight every now and again under the WWE's "Legends" Program.
When he's not in the ring, Nash stretches his acting chops in films like Magic Mike, John Wick, and The Punisher.
Secret of the Ooze introduced us to a completely new character in Keno, the ninja pizza delivery boy who befriends the Turtles and April. He gets involved in their fight against the Foot, and is even able to hold his own against the deadly ninjas. Despite being an otherwise interesting character, he disappeared after the TMNT sequel, never to be heard from again.
Keno was portrayed by stuntman Ernie Reyes, Jr., who has done action scenes for films like Avatar and Act of Valor and acted in front of the camera for Surf Ninjas and Rush Hour. One of the first jobs for the young stuntman was performing as a body double for one of the Turtles in the original movie. The producers were so impressed by Reyes' choreography that they offered him an expanded role in Secret of the Ooze.
Tokka and Rahzar are both fairly controversial characters. They have grown on fans over the years, but a lot of people still consider them to just be knockoffs of Bebop and Rocksteady, who are much more popular. It doesn't help that the mutants had no character whatsoever. Shredder's other mutant henchmen at least had goofy personalities.
Tokka and Rahzar were essentially overgrown babies.
Aside from their awesome design and impressive creature costumes, one of the few redeeming factors of these characters was the fact that they were voiced by the legendary Frank Welker. The voice actor is known for playing Fred Jones in Scooby-Doo as well as Megatron in the original Transformers cartoon. Tokka and Rahzar may have been underwhelming and only had a handful of lines, but they were brought to life by freaking Megatron!
"Ninja Rap" is the part of TMNT II most people remember; the fight between the Turtles and Shredder's minions crashes through the wall of a night club where Vanilla Ice is performing. Instead of freaking out and running, the rapper breaks out into a freestyle rap, singing "Go ninja, go ninja, go!"
It's the most ridiculous thing you will ever see. And every second of it is awesome.
But things were rocky behind the scenes with Vanilla and his crew. Upon his arrival on the set of movie, one of the stuntmen (in full Turtle costume, sans mask) went up to the rapper to express how much of a fan he was. Apparently he tried to give Ice a hug, which was met with a shove from his bodyguard. The ensuing scuffle was broken up quickly, but the image of a brawl between Vanilla Ice and the TMNT is downright hilarious!
There's a lot of backstory behind Professor Perry. He was originally supposed to be Baxter Stockman as well as the film's main villain. Then, he was supposed to be Baxter, but in a reduced role setting up the sequel. Then he became a brand new character that just looked a lot like Baxter but was a friend to the TMNT.
Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity with Professor Perry was the last thing to be cut.
As we said earlier, the "Secret" of the Ooze was supposed to be that it was of an alien origin, setting up the third film. The writers were going to really set up the next story by dramatically revealing that Professor Perry was an Utrom in disguise at the very end of the movie. However, the idea was scrapped thanks to the popularity of the cartoon.
Producers feared that fans would think Perry was Krang rather than just a member of the comic's alien race. To avoid confusion they left Perry as just a regular human. And we all know how the next film turned out.
Did you know all about these secrets from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments!