“The killer tomatoes are back! But this time around, they’re going to have to contend with late ’80s George Clooney and his wicked mullet… Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Nope, it’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
TTHEKILLERTOMATOES1en years on from the Great Tomato War, mankind lives in fear of another uprising by the waxy red menace. Meanwhile, Professor Gangreen – played with gusto by the great John Astin from TV’s The Addams Family – sets out to pursue his own evil ends by creating a burgeoning army of tomato militia men (who, somewhat conveniently, look just like regular men).
Following on from the 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Return of the Killer Tomatoes came armed with a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness and would expand upon a franchise that now comprises four films, two TV series and a video game. So what are you waiting for? Make Return of the Killer Tomatoes one of your five-a-day now!”
via Arrow Video
Silly. Pure silliness. There’s no sense in looking for clever subtext or deep messages in John De Bello’s extremely entertaining sci-fi/horror spoof “Return of the Killer Tomatoes”. Assuming once more the ‘nobody else seems to want to direct, so I will’ approach, De Ballo’s mixture of fourth-wall breaking, absurdist humour mixed with a cast that play it for real, ROTKT is exactly what it was intended to be: fun.
THEKILLERTOMATOES12There were spoofs that worked: “Dance of the Vampires” and “Young Frankenstein” still the best; but “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” was from the age in which “Airplane” showed that as funny as the spoken gags were, you were advised never to stop watching the screen in fear of missing the wealth of visual jokes both in the foreground and background. The Brechtian breaks to discuss the production running out of funds and the resulting product placements are genuinely funny. Taking its lead from 50s B-movies and throwing in some Mel Brooks for good measure, this is free form over standard structure and is all the better for it.
The first film gained a cult following, but very modest box-office; it was, however, a popular reference on the “Muppet Babies” TV series. Enough to interest New World Pictures in approaching director De Bello in making a New World funded sequel. Cast wise, Anthony Starke and a young George Clooney as the heroes Chad and Matt are immensely watchable as they deadpan their way through the film; Karen Mistal gets all of the best lines as Tara and is great fun to watch; and the legendary John Astin is on fine form as Professor Gangreen.
“Return of the Killer Tomatoes” throws excellent shade at 80s Hollywood, the Reagan years, and how tacky the US was in terms of culture. All these years later, it’s still a knowing watch and highly amusing. This is a splendid restoration with strong colours (as if there was any other kind in the 80s) and sharp image.
Silly. And well worth watching!
2K restoration from the original film elements
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello
Hangin’ with Chad– Brand new interview with star Anthony Starke
Image gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes stills
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver
This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at: