Those heroes in a half shell kick some smelly cinematic backsides with Umbrella Entertainment’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Stink-O-Vision Edition. It’s the same badass 1990 live-action flick but now with the rancorous scents of a scratch-and-sniff card! The transfer is identical to past discs, but the audio now comes with DTS 5.1 and 2.0 options and some genuine vintage bonus features. All scratching and sniffing aside, this one is ultimately For Fans Only
Nostalgia is a bitter-sweet treat that feeds and rewards you or leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Effectively growing up with the franchise, I was five years old when the hit kids’ cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blasted onto the screen. I tuned in for every episode. Through the scarcity of figures at local toy stores, I was always on the hunt for every figure I could get. After only securing a Foot Soldier and a Splinter, it took months to finally find an actual turtle figure - thanks to a small mom & pop hardware store of all places. I obsessed over the video games, the arcade machine, and the obnoxious LCD handheld game that replayed the worst level of the NES game. That was all fine and dandy - then came the movie! When the live-action film arrived with those incredible Jim Hensen Creature Shop creations of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo appeared on screen, it was like seeing my heroes come to life.
Now some 33 years after this blockbuster film crashed its way onto theater screens, Umbrella Entertainment gave me another reason to revisit the original live-action TMNT with a brand new “Stink-O-Vision” scratch-and-sniff cinema experience. Similar to what Criterion delivered for Polyester with the Odorama cards, when prompted you can scratch and sniff away at a card featuring all sorts of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired scents. Not that you needed this card to complete the TMNT experience, it's just a fun new way to enjoy an old favorite.
Let me tell you though, some of these smells are pretty intense. Upon opening the set my olfactory cavities were invaded by a putrid parade of pungent perfumes. When we first meet the Turtles, we can scrape and snort an intense combination of dirt, manure, and mildew. When the Turtles take April home, we’re greeted with the delicate aromatic arrangement of stank marijuana. Of course, there’s a scent dedicated to the Foot Clan’s hideout, Splinter’s campfire meditation session, and saving the best for last, an aromatized tribute to Shredder’s grand finale.
As much as I love the turtles, still collect the figures and still go to the new movies (TMNT: Mutant Mayhem was delightful by the way; 3-D was excellent), even I admit this set is pretty ridiculous. Full confession I picked it up on a lark and really only so I could get the free shipping option for the big Razorback 4K UHD set from Umbrella's website. I didn’t really intend to spend much time with it, and I certainly didn’t intend to review it, but after a tough few days I needed something fun and familiar and this won the night.
1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may still be a dark, brooding, and weird hybrid of the original Eastman and Laird comics with the colorful sensibilities of the cartoon, but it’s a fun flick. Of the three original live-action films, it was easily the best of the pack. Compared to the films that followed, it is still a classic with only the recent Mutant Mayhem standing as a suitable rival for the throne of best Ninja Turtle flick. I don’t think it’s an amazing movie by any standards, but it still holds up. If nothing else I maintain an incredible amount of respect and awe for the live-action puppet creature creations.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Umbrella Entertainment unleashes the fearless testudinal foursome for a brand new exclusive Blu-ray release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Stink-O-Vision Edition. Pressed on a Region Free BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a sturdy clear case with a slipcover and a J-card offering up all the relevant details. The disc loads to a static image main menu offering you the various viewing experiences along with audio selection options and bonus features. Inside the case is the scent card, and as I said it’s pretty pungent so before getting your schnoz all up in that thing, I’d let it waft a bit.
Aside from opting for the international studio partners and the Golden Harvest logo instead of the domestic New Line Cinema version, we see in the States, the 1.77:1 transfer is virtually identical to the Warner Bros.-issued Blu-ray from 2012. Even comparing bitrates, the two discs are almost bit-for-bit the same with little or no variance. So, on that score, if you’re looking to grab this for a new transfer, you’re in the wind. It’s still serviceable with some nice fine details, but with the heavy film grain, rough-ish black levels, and some pretty bland colors, the film certainly could use a new scan and a refresh for its upcoming 35th anniversary. Now for the curious, the Stink-O-Vision version is also the same, only with a slightly altered title card at the beginning and the various numbered symbols indicating witch smell you should be scratching at. Within the disc structure, it’s its own file so there isn’t any quality loss on either side of that coin.
On the audio side, the film picks up a nice robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix as well as a solid DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. Dollars to donuts, the DTS is only a nominal improvement over the TrueHD 5.1 track of our domestic release, but to my ears, it sounded a bit cleaner for dialog and music cues giving a little more impact to the action sequences. Of the two discs, I also felt this matrixed better for my receiver's DTS Neural:X function giving a better sense of space and atmosphere to the film and offering a little more heft where it counts. So that’s a little bit of a bump at least but certainly not worth the price of importing just for a slightly improved audio mix.
While the “Stink-O-Vision” experience is the main attraction of buying this disc, I am placing it here in the bonus features because that’s what it ultimately is. You can watch the film on its own… unscented if you will, and I have a hunch that’s how most folks will enjoy this film over the long haul. I honestly can’t see myself pulling out that scratch-and-sniff card again any time soon. In addition to the stinky version, this disc also offers up the vintage half-hour behind-the-scenes making-of featurette made sometime around the second film, which I hadn't seen in decades so that was a fun watch.
While I hope for a new 4K UHD release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and Secret of the Ooze while they’re at it), Umbrella Entertainment gave me a goofy reason to pick up another copy of one of my childhood favorites. On its own, this TMNT adventure is pretty damn good with the incredible creature effects from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop being the big highlight. I revisit this flick at least once a year, especially when a new movie comes out. Now we can experience it like never before in full Stink-O-Vision! This is an often gross and overwhelming scent-sational experience that may play out faster than you might hope, but it was fun. With the same serviceable transfer, a slight audio uptick, and the vintage featurette and trailer rounding out the bonus features, this is certainly a unique pickup for Ninja Turtle fanatics. For Fans Only.