5Coming Out of Their Shells: The Ninja Turtles Form a Boy Band
After the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles utterly dominated the 80s, getting their likenesses plastered on lunch boxes, pajamas, sleeping bags, action figures and basically everything else outside of feminine hygiene products, their makers were almost out of ways to really run the franchise into the ground.
"OK, so how about we reboot the whole series and give every character fetal alcohol syndrome?"
Thus in 1990, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released their first and only pop-rock/rap album, kicking off a nationwide tour that must have been attended primarily by curious people wondering how the fuck that was possible.
It was the worst possible answer:
The show featured actors dressed in turtle suits, like the ones from the movies, except cheaper-looking and now featuring denim jackets. They were lip-syncing to 90s pop-rock while pretending to play instruments like guitars, bass, drums and, as if this whole thing wasn't horrible enough already, keytars. During other songs they simply forgot about the instruments and performed elaborate choreographed dances, like in a Madonna concert.
Except with more natural-looking skin.
The venerable Master Splinter makes an appearance to tell his pupils that they "can do more good with music than with any pair of nunchuks" -- because apparently real ninjas are less about violence and more about ripping off the New Kids on the Block. Later, the Shredder crashes the concert to tell everyone how much he hates music, which he does by performing a song called "I Hate Music."
"Wait ... shit."
The Turtles even appeared on Regis and Kathie Lee to promote the show, in what must be the lowest point in two separate franchises.
The whole concert was released on VHS, but even stranger was the "making of" documentary included. What could have been an interesting look at the behind-the-scenes stuff (because, seriously, how the fuck does this happen) turned out to be a bizarre Spinal Tap-style mockumentary that pretends the Turtles are an actual rock band. While this could have been clever idea for a five-minute sketch, unfortunately it goes on for 30 minutes. It includes interviews with real-life managers and producers who somehow had nothing better to do, plus a scene with the Turtles in the studio laying down a track for their album.
The ambiance was tense because Michelangelo showed up with a hangover again.
The recording engineers even go out of their way to explain how the turtles can play instruments with only three fingers. Donatello, we learn, has extra-thick keys on his keytar, while Leonardo plays a one-string bass.
It's the same one the guy from Radiohead uses.
Because if there's anything fans of the Ninja Turtles crave, it's logic. Sure, a quartet of turtles exposed to ambiguous radioactive goop can be trained as ninjas and speak like California surfers, but if those same turtles also learned how to play musical instruments? Well, that's a little far-fetched.
4Justice League of America: The World's Greatest Superheroes (Minus The World's Greatest Superheroes)
Like most entries on this list, this low-budget movie was produced in the hopes of creating a live-action series. Unlike the other entries, this one was considered so bad that it has never aired in the U.S. But that's why the Internet exists. So we can watch awful things.
Awful, awful things.
Justice League of America (1997) shortens the teams' all-star roster by getting rid of dead weight like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and keeping guys like The Atom (whose power is making himself little), Green Lantern (not even the most famous one) and the Martian Manhunter. The Flash is also on the team, but he looks like this:
The movie features costumes that look like they were designed by nerds to wear at Comic-Con and sewn together by their mothers.
The main character is Tori, a meteorologist who gains superpowers by being the worst lab assistant ever and spilling water on an experimental device, electrocuting herself. She's abducted by the Justice League and soon given a membership on the team. Yes, all it takes to get an invitation to join the mighty Justice League of America is proving that Darwin was wrong.
The poor guy just can't catch a break.
It's an odd mixture of superhero story and sitcom, and the script awkwardly tries to balance drama with comedy by showing the characters' dull normal lives side by side with their dull superhero exploits. One reviewer called it "Friends with superpowers," but that's giving it too much credit. It's more like "Perfect Strangers with superpowers," and with every character played by Bronson Pinchot.
The whole thing is intercut with interviews with the characters, implying that this is a documentary and that these guys are incredibly bad at keeping their secret identities.
"So I put on my costume an- hey, this isn't, like, going on TV, right?"
The secret underwater headquarters of the Justice League is accessible only through an elevator located under a bridge, where no one could ever notice a group of brightly costumed individuals walking together and disappearing.
"Aaaagggh, they pissed on the handle again, Aaaaagggghhhhh"
Once they're down there, they meet the Martian Manhunter, who is pretty much a full-bodied version of Zordon from the Power Rangers here. Despite having telepathic powers, the Manhunter summons the members of the Justice League only through beepers, a technology that was already outdated by the time this movie came out.
"Listen. You guys. Beepers are coming back. I'm telling you."
The villain is a guy called "Weather Man." Out of the 500 villains the Justice League has fought in the comics, they had to choose the one who sounds about as menacing as Al Roker. We'd like to think that if they didn't use better characters it's only because they weren't available, because otherwise the choices that led to this thing are pretty puzzling. We've seen plenty of examples of adaptations where for some reason they leave a lot of important characters out of the movie, but you couldn't possibly go wrong if you had a bunch of well-known superheroes, right?