Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988)
Directed by: John De Bello
Written by: Costa Dillon, J. Stephen Peace, John De Bello, Stephen Andrich
Starring: Anthony Starke, George Clooney, J. Stephen Peace, John Astin, Karen M. Waldron, Steve Lundquist
RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! (1988)
Directed by John De Bello
After the terrifying events of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in which a small town was indeed attacked by the murderous fruits, mad scientist Professor Gangreen has developed a machine that can turn tomatoes into humans, specifically Rambo-style killing machines. When one of his creations, the stunningly beautiful Tara, whom he created from a tomato to be his life and lab partner, escapes from his secret laboratory, he will stop at nothing to get her back into his arms and to prevent her from revealing his secret plans for domination.
RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! is a daft sci-fi comedy centred around pizza boy Chad Finletter and his best friend Matt Stevens, the latter of whom likes to fool women into a faux contest to go on a date with Rob Lowe in order to date them himself. Chad’s not interested in all the girls queueing around the block: he only has eyes for the mysterious Tara but she belongs to another… So when one wet and stormy night Tara enters his uncle’s pizza parlour stating she wishes to have sex with Chad, how can he possibly refuse? However, little does he know that in reality she’s a tomato and has in her possession a furry tomato (FT) who was cast aside by her creator and lover, Professor Gangreen. Realising that Gangreen truly doesn’t love her but just wants her for her knowledge of over 300 sexual positions, she believes Chad can provide the refuge she so desperately seeks. However, in a town and society that fears everything tomato related after the attacks years previously, how will they react to FT, Tara and her tomato brothers and sisters?
Cheap, corny and extremely cheerful, RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!‘s low budget appeal has a certain likable quality that both drives the movie and keeps the viewer glued to the screen. Self-aware and not afraid of showing it, the characters and even the filmmakers make fun of what they’re producing on screen, even to the point where they’re “running out of money” and resort to product placement: scenes that will tickle and delight fans of B-movie cinema. Injecting Pepsi logos everywhere they’re able to, from lab coats to the front of the Professor’s spooky mansion, and rising a box of Kellogg’s cornflakes into full view of the camera, obscuring the actors on-screen, just shows how much they’re able to freely experiment with their project and with such confidence to boot! This dry humoured approach had me giggling throughout the 95 minute running time as it unashamedly projected its verbal jokes and physical gags onto the viewer. Take itself seriously this film does not.
There was no real chance of RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! winning any awards however it has heart in spades and not forgetting a certain Mr George Clooney who smolders as the quick witted best buddy to Anthony Starke’s over-the-top Chad. The film is very much a character piece as it is a showcase of its comedic appeal and each actor puts their all into a delivering a hilarious sci-fi that will appeal to all ages. Sure, the story itself is a little immature but the way in which it is delivered is nothing short of genius. From a story point of view, it does run out of steam with its barebones plot however there’s still plenty to keep its audience entertained and that is, after all, why we’re watching it.
Zany with a capital Z, RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! will mostly appeal to those who have a soft spot for B-movies and the camp crapness that is out there though I must admit this is a cut above the rest. Arrow Video have done a fine job with the release whith just a touch of the 80’s grain to what is a relatively crisp transfer. An interview with star Anthony Starke along with a trailer, audio commentary and collector’s booklet packaged in a dual format release is well worth the money if you’re looking for a film that’s chock full of fun.