Monday, December 5, 2016

Return of the Killer Tomatoes

Director  - John De Bello (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back)
Starring - Anthony Starke (Repossessed, Charmed), George Clooney (O' Brother Where Art Thou, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut), and Karen M. Waldron (Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Killing Midnight)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi/Comedy
Tagline - "Who can stop the mad Professor Gangreen?"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was younger I was the oddball out.  While most of my friends were watching WWF Raw, Hey Arnold, Cat Dog, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers I was watching Creepy Crawlers, Mutant League, WCW Nitro, Count Duckula, Street Sharks, Big Bad Beetleborgs and the long forgotten Attack of the Killer Tomatoes television show.  I loved the show when I was little but none of my friends did so I had no one to talk to about it.  I would watching it anytime it was one but one day that all changed.  I was changing through the channels and I came across the film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  Actually, it was the ending but I was hooked.  I had to see it so my dad took me to the video store where I was sad to learn that they did not have a copy to rent.  However, a family member had actually recorded it from t.v. and I was able to borrow that copy.  I fucking loved that movie and soon found that it had a sequel but the video store did not have a copy.  Some years later I was able to find the Anchor Bay DVD for cheap and grabbed it.  This movie was another hit.  I kept the DVD for years before I heard that Arrow Video was releasing it on blu.  I had to see the special features on this set so I reached out to my friends over at MVD and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film takes place years after the great tomato war depicted in the first film.  Tomatoes are now banned and people smuggle them into the country like contraband.  Tomato war hero Wilbur Finletter (J. Stephen Peace) has started up his own pizzeria where they are known for their creative pizzas not involving tomatoes.  His nephew Chad (Starke) and Chad's friend Matt (Clooney) work for him.  Chad and Matt have listened to Wilbur talk about the tomato war for years and both fear the fruit.  Chad is a delivery boy for the pizzeria and often delivers to Professor Gangreen's (Addams Family's John Astin) so he can flirt with his assistant/girlfriend Tara (Waldron).  What Chad does not know is that Prof. Gangreen is actually the mind behind the great tomato war and is turning tomatoes into people so he can create an army to take over the world.  Tara just happens to be one of those tomatoes that he has specifically made for sex, to cook, and clean.  When Gangreen tries to destroy a scientific mistake, a fury tomato, Tara grabs it and flees.  She names the living tomato FT for fury tomato and goes to Chad where she offers him sex.  The two date and he soon discovers that she is a tomato.  Professor Gangreen and his assistant Igor kidnap Tara forcing Chad, Matt, and Wilbur to confront Grangreen and his army of Rambo Tomatoes.
     What I like about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and it's sequel is that it knows how to have fun.  The film doesn't try to look amazing cinematically and doesn't attempt to tell a heartwarming story.  Instead, it puts every effort into making the viewer laugh while making a parody of movie making.  Return of the Killer Tomatoes is a worthy follow up to Attack and in many aspects it surpasses the original film.  The acting in this one fits the style of the movie.  The film is a parody in its purest form and the acting demonstrates this.  The cast overreacts to almost every situation while portraying a type of ignorance that is almost clichéd to the monster movies of the 50s.  This was great and required a great bit of skill to come off as bad.  Anthony Starke and George Clooney work so well together and really made the humor in the film stand out.  They were great and would have loved to see the pair show up in future installments of the film.  Also, Karen Waldron is a babe.  I never noticed then when I was younger but now I can see why she was cast.  Talent or not, she is stunning.  The story for this one is one of the most entertaining throwbacks to the mad science sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s.  The film parodies the mad scientists films of that time, as well as, the monster movies of the same era.  We also get some teenage sex comedy tossed in for good measure.  We even get a quick jab at movie making and the struggles smaller budget films go through to finish the project.  Finally, if you haven't picked up on this yet but the film is a comedy before anything else.  The film doesn't have any blood and gore.  Instead, it is a hilarious throwback to the horror and sci-fi films of the drive-in era.  In that aspect the film exceeds.  The sets are fun and the practical effects are decent for what we get.  Overall, Return of the Killer Tomatoes is one of those rare sequels that is better than the original.    The film is funny and clever in the way it handles the parody.  Fans of 80s comedies need to own this!

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