Movie Reviews 146 – Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)

Return of the Killer TomatoesThere are a lot of movies that have earned the “So bad it’s good” label over the years, but 1978’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes had the title to match. I only saw that movie once at the “Cinema V” repertoire theater in Montreal sometime around 1980, but it was something of a badge of honour to have been able to say “I watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” although truth be told I don’t remember much about it. I do remember there were scenes featuring re-purposed beach balls as giant tomatoes and other scenes of people scurrying and screaming while running around and squishing actual tomatoes lying comatose on the pavement. But I can’t recall a single iota of what the story was about or any of the characters (or even if there ever was any semblance of a  story).

Over the years I’d learned that there were later sequels but never knew what they were about or how they fared. I just assumed that the fad that was AotKT was being shaken out for every last dime the name recognition could muster and I need not bother watching any of these sequels myself. I mean, if the law of diminishing returns applied, making a movie worse than the original would mean we’re really digging into the soil here.

When I picked up a DVD  quad pack featuring Elvira Mistress of the DarkTransylvania 6-500House II and Return of the Killer Tomatoes, the Killer Tomato movie was the least appealing to me. But guess what?

Yes this is another movie featuring re-purposed beach balls as giant tomatoes and more scenes of people scurrying and screaming while running around and squishing actual tomatoes lying comatose on the pavement. But this time around, there is a lot more going on.

First you have George Clooney as one of the stars. A very young George Clooney naturally, who does a surprisingly good job. Believe it or not, even starring in a movie featuring Killer Tomatoes cannot trump his  thespian career low point of his starring role in the Batman and Robin fiasco.

You also have John Astin as the crazed scientist, Professor Gangreen, who’s developed the technology to turn tomatoes into human form. That’s right, the tomatoes are ‘among us’ and while it’s easy to spot them, most are transformed into brainless Chippendale muscle boy toys, one of the standout Tomatoes is  the Professor’s lovely assistant (Tara Boumdeay as Karen Mistal)) who starts to have actual feeling for humans. In a nutshell, Gangreen is taking another shot at worldwide domination with his tomatoes army while pizza delivery man Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke) tries to squash the tomato onslaught. A saucy story indeed.

The silliness of the movie goes into overdrive by some brilliant play on product placement where the actors step out of the ‘fourth wall’ for a moment and which later results in hilarious product placement jokes.

So yes, I heartily recommend Return of the Killer Tomatoes although for the life of me I still can’t remember what the first movie was about. I’m guessing pretty much the same menu.


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