Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Monday, December 24, 2018

WHY DO I OWN THIS?: We Wish You a Turtle Christmas (1994)

This is what a pop culture phenomenon the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were in the nineties. People paid good money to watch actors dressed as crude facsimiles of the characters sing songs. Following the utterly shocking success of the “Coming Out of Their Shells” live musical stage show, a pair of VHS sing-along tapes were released in 1994. The first was “Turtles Tunes,” a collection of public domain songs and original numbers sung by the Ninja Turtles. The second was “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas,” which similarly had the reptilian martial artists putting their spin on seasonal melodies. Forgotten for years, the internet would pick up these tapes and make them so-bad-they're-good, “can you believe this stupid bullshit?cult items. “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” is supposed to be pretty terrible which might make you wonder why I own it.

The thin plot of “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” revolves around the ninjas going out on Christmas Eve to get their Master Splinter some gifts. The residents of New York City and various shopping establishments are apparently unfazed by the sight of six foot tall, heavily muscular turtles dancing and singing near them. Of course, the plot is merely meant to facilitate the various songs. In-between the numbers, there's some light banter. Along the way, a street corner Santa and a group of children join the Turtles in their singing.

And what songs they are! The opening rendition of “Deck the Halls” is done as a reggae number. “Over the River and Through the Woods” is rewritten to be about the Turtles' sewer abode. Michaelangelo, for unexplained reasons, launches into an opera-esque rendition of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which is now about Manhattan. Once Splinter is presented with his gift, he puts his own spin on “12 Days of Christmas.” The tape wraps up with the Turtles and a bunch of kids singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” There are two wholly original numbers too, including an utterly cringe-inducing rap song about wrapping gifts. Truly, you have not lived until you've seen the Ninja Turtles butcher these Christmas classics.

As hilariously misguided and utterly jaw-dropping as these songs are, it's not the main thing that makes “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” so hilarious. Did I mention this was a live action production? The Ninja Turtle suits the actors wear aren't even up the standard of “The Next Mutation.” The animatronic mouths barely move, a thin strip of black fabric visible behind their massive teeth. The performers clearly have difficulty moving in the outfits, much less dancing. The Splinter costume has a weirdly over-sized head. Apparently two actors did all the voices. This is evident, as three of the four turtles have weird Brooklyn accents. The voice performers chatter over the end credits, even after the words disappear.

Why Do I Own This?: The easiest answer to that question is: How could I not? I own “Turtle Tunes” too. If you think this one is bad, ooh boy, you should check out that cinematic masterpiece of sight and sound. When I spotted both of these quote-unquote films in a flea market bin of VHS tapes, two dollar price tags on each, there was no way I could resist. Knowing fully both were suppose to awful, I happily took them home. This duo currently resides in my collection and you can take them when they're pried from my cold, dead fingers.

But I digress. “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” is completely baffling and beautifully so. The only time I wasn't laughing through the twenty minute runtime was when my jaw sagged open in disbelief. I can recall renting this as a kid and happily eating it up. It's amazing what a child will uncritically consume, when compared to how hilariously perplexed an adult may be. I'm going to give this thing a positive review and have no regrets about that. Obviously produced cynically as a cheap way to cash in on a then red hot fad, time and perspective transforms “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” into ironic enjoyment. May you have a truly Turtle Christmas as well. [7/10]

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