Highlights From Kevin Eastman’s TMNT 1990 Movie Commentary, Live in KC

The Turtles’ co-creator visited KC’s Main Street Alamo Drafthouse to riff and ruminate on their first and greatest movie.

Kevin Eastman is a major guest at this year’s Planet Comicon (April 28–30), and the Alamo Drafthouse nabbed him for an incredible evening of live commentary on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film from 1990, directed by Steve Barron.

The Drafthouse’s Creative Manager Ryan Davis introduced the comics legend, who was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation as he approached the front of the sold-out cinema for his opening comments. He must certainly have been exhausted from a long Con day, but it didn’t show in his enthusiastic participation.

Kevin Eastman with Drafthouse Creative Manager Ryan Davis

It’s no secret to our regular readers that I’m a huge Turtles megafan, or that I adore this film — it’s one of my top five, as well as my single most logged movie on Letterboxd by a pretty solid margin. So it goes without saying that I was very excited for this event.


Kevin’s commentary was a fascinating and fun first-person tour of the film, with his Maine accent occasionally peppering his comments (“mahshal ahts”) and adding a bit of extra character. He’s obviously a genuine fan of the movie, quoting choice dialogue and vocally anticipating his favorite gags.

Of course a lot of the ground covered in the commentary was already well-known to fans, but there were also plenty of great insights and anecdotes that registered to me as “new” as well.

Commentary Highlights:

📼 Kevin misses the Pizza Hut ad from the VHS tape — so say we all.

🍔 He jokes that the Foot Clan’s clubhouse the “ultimate teenage dream”: cigarettes and Burger King Whoppers.

⚙️ The Turtles’ shell sizes vary a bit throughout the film. The dialogue suits have bigger shells than the stunt suits because they had to house the animatronics and puppetry tech.

👥 The crowd cheered when Eastman and Laird’s names appeared in the opening credits, and Kevin was quick to share the love. “The Turtles would not be the Turtles without Peter Laird”.

🚫 The UK’s absurd censorship wasn’t limited to the cartoon. The scene in which Mikey orders pizza was edited because he’s swinging his nunchaku, then considered an illicit weapon.

💵 People always ask Kevin where the Turtles get their money, but he only offers vague answers about odd jobs.

🚛 What would Jack Burton do? This phrase was whipped out many times throughout the film as Casey Jones got into various scrapes. Kevin is a huge fan of Big Trouble in Little China and adopted its iconic Kurt Russell character as a behavioral model for Casey.

🌐 Kids of all kinds could identify with the Turtles not only because of their different personalities, but because they transcend racial classification.

🐢 Donatello was originally the last of the Turtles to be named, with “Bernini” being the proposed alternative. Also on the subject of Donnie, Kevin loves Corey Feldman’s take on the character.

🧀 Shredder’s armor was originally inspired by a cheese grater.

🗣 Casey’s war cry “Goongala” is an obscure Tarzan reference.

🍕 Kevin describes visiting the sewer lair and 2nd Time Around movie sets as “surreal”; stepping into designs that were based on the comics.

👣 Of the Foot Clan member who hands out bisentos midway through the apartment fight: “He finally got up the stairs!”

🥋 He credits the Turtles for enabling ninjas to be good guys in pop culture, as opposed to the more historically correct thieves and assassins, particularly in Japan where the ninjas are understood and assumed to be murderous rather than heroic.

🕵 He was costumed and prepped for a substantial cameo in the film, but it ended up being a blink-and-miss-it background extra that’s not even recognizable as being him. Try to spot him near the garbage truck in the film’s finale.

Huge thanks go out to Kevin for a terrific evening that fans will never forget, and to the folks at Planet Comicon and the Alamo Drafthouse for making his appearance a reality.

As of this article’s publication, today is the final day to see Kevin at Planet Comicon!

The event photographs in this article were taken by the author.


Get it at Amazon:
TMNT (1990) — [Blu-ray] | [DVD] | [Instant]
TMNT 1–4 Collection — [Blu-ray] | [DVD]

TURTLEMANIA! More TMNT Articles From This Author:
Pick Of The Week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
A Far Too Serious Sociological TMNT Think Piece
Ninja Rap: The Ninja Turtles’ Unlikely Hip-Hop Connection
Turtle Power Documentary — DVD Review
Turtle Power Director Interview with Randall Lobb
Turtles Forever: Crisis On Infinite… Turtles?
TMNT: Half-Shell Heroes Blast To The Past — DVD Review
TMNT: Out Of The Shadows — Blu-ray Review

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