"Through your eyes, I see the world for what it really is."
While not as dark as it's predecessor, this version of TMNT has got enough to fright you for days.
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Mutations in this series tend to be much more horrifying than in any of the previous versions. Most mutants either end up hideously deformed, completely feral, or both. To list, Dogpound is a hulking brute with bone covering parts of his body, and asymmetrical arms. When he becomes Rahzar, he becomes symmetrical, but also an emaciated apparently-undead figure with glowing eyes and exposed bones Fishface lost his legs, and can't breath outside of water. Mutagen Man is a blob of organs in acidic slime, and completely insane. Rat King looks like a corpse. Wingnut has a hideously swollen brain and mismatched hands. Snakeweed is a plant monster that can't be killed. Spider Bytze is mostly mouth... The list just goes on.
Worse yet was how Prior to every fight before this where it looked hopeless, there was a chance and the turtles took it. Snakeweed? Leo saw something conveniently to shock him. Spiderbytez? Big Damn Heroes moment courtesy of Raph. Baxter Stockman? Weak point that only needed one shot. Bradford and Xever? Swap places. The Shredder, however, showed no obvious signs of being at a disadvantage. He was THAT MUCH STRONGER THAN ALL FOUR TURTLES AT ONCE.
There was also the way Xever begged for help after he mutated.
Or when Raph got electrocuted.
And Mikey getting crushed under a sign.
Then there was Splinter's quote at the end:
Splinter: You were all very lucky. Few have ever faced the Shredder and survived.
It may not be much of a surprise to long-time TMNT fans, but it can still be rather frightening knowing Shredder has killed people in combat before.
Splinter's nightmare of the Shredder killing the Turtles at the beginning of "Panic in the Sewers." Yes, technically we don't actually see them die (in truth, they really get sucked up into shadows and disappear when they "die") but the dark atmosphere and screams of terror they make don't make it any less nightmarish. Case in point, Michelangelo's death - we just see the Shredder grab him, and then, nothing else. Nothing is Scarier, indeed.
Of special note is the part just before Splinter wakes up. Shredder has Leo cornered and slowly approaches him, dragging his claws along the wall. He raises his arm and swipes. The camera then cuts to Leo screaming, and a line slices across his neck. The line divides the scene in half and cuts to Splinter waking up, but the implication is that Shredder cut Leo's head off.
The Turtles and Leatherhead being surrounded by the Kraang in the subway car. The way they're slowly breaking into the car and several of their limbs are crawling around inside it looks like something out of a horror film. One even starts cutting into it with a saw that nearly hits Leonardo!
Concept art depicting the Rat King◊ shows him to look much more like a corpse in a black coat rather than a strange bandaged person that lives in the sewers that the previous series showed him to be.
It gets worse in the actual episode with most of what we see of him in the episode usually limited to just his gnarled teeth and his burned lower jaw. Whenever it's particularly close to his mouth, you can hear a gross, clattering noise when he speaks.
Pulverizer's new mutant form. He turns into a sickly green blob of goo with visible and graphic internal organs. This, compounded with his head being fried by the mutagen on initial impact, him losing his mind, and going completely feral on the turtles makes him absolutely terrifying.
What he says when he's mutating, which is garbled due to the ooze on him: "It hurts! I didn't know it would hurt so bad!"
The fact that Shredder kidnapped Splinter's daughter and raised her to hate her own father, believing he was her father and Splinter murdered her mother.
Kraang Prime is every bit as nightmare-inducing as you'd expect.
Not to mention April being hooked up to that device.
Traag deserves a mention. I mean, Leo keeps blasting Traag's limbs and he keeps on coming and when all his limbs are blown off, he just reassembles himself no sweat. He's a frightening example of The Juggernaut.
The Squirrelanoids. They force themselves into someone's mouth, duplicate themselves in the host's stomach and have the host vomit them out. Their final mutation stage depicts them as giant zombie alien squirrels with a savage mindset.
Has no one noticed that their appearance and behavior is a clear Shout-Out to ''Alien?
His first attack on Mikey on the rooftop is pretty brutal. That roar he gives before he starts slamming him around and making him bounce around like a ball. The description may sound humorous, but it's not.
The way Slash just... flails Mikey around, smacking him against anything and everything.
The scene where Slash pretends to be Leonardo, luring Mikey close enough to get at him. The way he emerges from the shadows, grabs Mikey and yanks him in, cutting away before we see what he does to Mikey is just damn creepy. Made even creepier by how he manages to not only imitate Leo's voice flawlessly, but how he somehow makes it so he can perfectly imitate Leo's silhouette (not only in size but also the katanas on Leo's back) in the shadows, completely fooling Mikey.
Slash himself is this trope. He shows himself to be bigger and stronger than the turtles, yet also just as fast and agile as them. Despite his size, he can be as stealthy and silent as the turtles, and he's also very cunning, showing how he can use stealth, trickery and misdirection to lure his prey into a trap. Taking everything into account, Slash cements himself as what may be the turtles' deadliest enemy, right up there with Shredder, in just one episode.
And what makes that even scarier? He knows where they live.
It's minor compared to the other stuff, but the Kraang had a few moments: The Kraang bots just staring into space, before waking up. Or the Kraang hovering silently while they communicate telepathically. The Kraang can be really… alien when they're not blabbing away.
The whole episode is Nightmare Fuel, especially in-universe.
Raph: Cockroaches, especially Spy Roach.
Donnie: April detesting him for being a mutant freak and for ruining her life.
April: Bats, specifically her dad's mutant bat form.
Leo: Failing his duties as team leader.
And in the creature-based fears, it's usually whole floods of that specific creature, swarming over everything. At one point Raph thinks he's found Mikey... only for "Mikey's" head to pop off and spray Raph with cockroaches before his lifeless/headless body drops to the ground. And in another instance, Casey visualizes rats swarming over and burying Raphael and Michelangelo! "Horrifying" does not even begin to describe this episode.
The others' fears, while not disturbing, is pretty painful to watch. From seeing April being terrified seeing her dad like this to Donatello's breakdown and even Leo losing it.
Stockman's mutation can be incredibly disturbing (Unlike his 80's cartoon counterpart, which looked much more tame and kid-friendly). The buzzing, constant muttering to himself, and throwing up digestive juices on his food make it one of the more unsettling mutations of the series.
Made even worse by the fact that he captures the 1986 remake of The Fly of Seth Brundle's portrayal quite disturbingly well. Especially, when we get to see how he can feed on those candy bars. Squick*
Pizza trying to eat humans is rather disturbing. For pizza-lovers, the entire plot is the stuff of nightmares.
One can only wonder the fate of the pizza that Mikey locked in the freezer with Ice-cream Kitty.
The same goes for Antonio's chef AKA Pizza Face.
One that note, Mikey eating sentient pizza, ESPECIALLY when he ate the majority of Pizza Face's body from the inside out.
It gets worse; considering the fact that Pizza Face was created from the mutagen being exposed to a human and pizza, while Mikey is a turtle exposed to human DNA, he technically committed cannibalism. It might have been the only option, but still...
The fact that the scene where Mikey eats his way through Pizza Face from the inside out is similar to the infamous "chest-burster scene" from Alien.
The turtles fighting Tiger Claw in the meat shop. To make it worse, a buzz saw is on while this is all happening. After already seeing in the flashbacks that the 1987 Ninja Turtles were sadly defeated by this guy, it makes the scene even more intense. And the thought of not knowing if they're going to land on it or be thrown into it like Karai almost was made it hard for this troper to watch that he needed to take a breather after that.
Karai's fate at the end of the episode. The Shredder is unlikely to be kind to his prisoners
The second Leatherhead pulls a Big Damn Heroes he seizes Shredder's torso in his jaws and proceeds to bash him boddily against the ground before throwing him. Even with Bloodless Carnage it's terrifying.
A little Fridge Horror too; the fact that no one but Mikey suspected something was wrong with Mrs O'Neil. She is that good at acting, and the only reason she was found out was because she got over-emotional and revealed her true appearance because of it. If Mikey hadn't thought something was strange, or if she'd kept her cool just a few seconds longer...
Even beforeThe Reveal, Mrs O'Neil's behavior is a bit unsettling, especially for people who have experienced abuse. She tells April that her friends are freaks, she raises her voice to her increasingly-often, and at one point even grabs her by the wrist and forcibly drags her off, while April is obviously in pain and fearful.