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Pass The Ketchup: 35 years of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!
Mike Wasion & Jason Ours
The 1970s were an amazing time for serious, hard-edged genre filmmaking. The decade practically bristled with intense, harrowing, taboo-thrashing cinema classics – both horror and mainstream – the likes of which had never been seen before, and have scarcely been seen since. Films like The Hills Have Eyes, A Clockwork Orange, Last House on the Left, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween…Dawn of the Dead would appear at the end of the decade to drown the entire scene in an inferno of gore and social consciousness. The entire decade was a powerhouse of assaultive, merciless, intelligent filmmaking.
But there stands one film that towers above the rest in its sheer ability to push you to the limit. Assaultive? Absolutely. Merciless? Without question. Intelligent? Well…the jury’s still out on that one.
I speak, of course, about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!
Arriving in 1978 like a tomato splat to the face, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes didn’t simply parody established B-movie conventions…it waged war on all cinema, spitting in the face of any filmmaking conceit that could be remotely called good, creating a movie-going marathon of punishment that simply dared you to watch.
Some would say, that was the point entirely. Intelligent? It just might be after all.
Legend has it, the film was made for less than a hundred thousand dollars; watching it, you wonder where the rest of the $99,950 went. One-man filmmaking army John De Bello (who directed, edited, produced, scored, co-wrote, and probably raised the tomatoes himself) didn’t make a movie in the traditional sense, so much as will a seemingly unending comedy sketch into unholy existence – with a garage band aesthetic and an astonishingly straight face. Indeed, when the film keeps a completely straight face, even in spite of the relentlessly bizarre and/or ridiculous nature of virtually everything on display, it approaches a sort of genius.
Our film begins with a crawl explaining that when Hitchcock’s The Birds debuted in 1963, the public thought the idea of a mass attack by hordes of randomly murderous birds to be laughable…until years later, when strange occurrences of the sort began to happen in real life. Already displaying the brass balls to compare itself to Hitchcock, the crawl portentously posits that someday soon we will no longer be laughing at the idea of murderous tomatoes.
We are then launched into an oddly stark opening that calls to mind Romero (I say this without irony), as tomatoes, with neither warning nor explanation, begin to rise up and slaughter the innocent. We see the media attempt to grapple with the baffling situation, and snippets of the carnage an unprepared mankind suddenly finds itself facing. The bizarre thing about this sequence, is that it is almost legitimately effective…the footage looks like something from The Crazies (complete with actual helicopter crash!)…but with tomatoes. It’s at this point where we begin to notice something that permeates the rest of the film: awesome stuff happens. Really awesome, and lots of it…we just never get to see it. It’s all off-screen. We hear about it, mind you…and it all sounds unfathomably great. Little Timmy gets swarmed and devoured in front of his barely-mobile grandparents. A little dog gets devoured by a BLT. Major cities fall. But us…well, we get to see honest-to-god actual tomatoes, being prodded and/or gently tossed, while making crazed Daffy Duck sounds at screaming civilians.
Into all this nonsense, a plot of sorts erupts…attempting to calm the rising tide of panic, the President’s press secretary Jim Richardson (George Wilson) mounts an aggressive campaign to spin the situation as anything other than a disaster, with the help of oily pitch man Ted Swan (a hilarious Al Sklar), of the “Mind Makers” ad agency. This at one point leads to a psychotic, random musical number in Swan’s office that will likely leave unfamiliar viewers on the ropes, wondering if their battered minds have finally rebelled, which may or may not come as sweet release. Meanwhile, as the press secretary tries to convince the nation that nothing is wrong, the President puts together another team to combat the threat: a scuba diver, an Olympian (who looks like a female physical-education teacher), a master of disguise, and paratrooper-and-default-star Lt. Wilbur Finletter (future California senator J. Stephen Peace, who also co-wrote the film with Costa Dillon and director De Bello). And all led by the walking pun, Mason Dixon (David Miller), who gets saddled with the borderline-brain-damaged Finletter for much of the running time.
The tomatoes manage to kick off a full-scale apocalypse while all of this is going on, that comes to be known as the ‘Great Tomato War.’ Aquatic tomatoes attack buxom swimmers. People are poisoned drinking virulent tomato juice. Huge tomatoes the size of Volkswagens appear, to crush or otherwise destroy shrieking victims. Tanks and nukes come into play (New York is obliterated, but again, we don’t see it), but the armed forces are unable to stem the marauding love fruit, and a full scale holocaust seems inevitable.
Until our one, final shining light reveals itself: Puberty Love.
That’s right…Puberty Love. Tweener idol Ronny Desmond’s number one hit, Puberty Love is a saccharine, mewling pop song so unbelievably bad, it actually weakens the tomatoes’ resolve to the point where it drives them back, and shrinks the now-bloated abominations back down to their relatively harmless original size (incidentally, it was sung by a teenaged Matt Cameron, who would go on to become drummer for Soundgarden and Pearl Jam!). One can only wonder if it would work with Justin Bieber today.
The whole insane mess culminates with Richardson revealed as the ‘mastermind’ of the invasion, making a bid to overthrow the President; a well-placed sword thrust courtesy of Finletter takes care of that, then it’s off to the streets, Puberty Love in tow, to deal with the unruly tomatoes. The counterstrike is effective, Finletter remains tangled in his damned parachute, Mason Dixon finds true love, and we are left with the disquieting notion that carrots are the next horror we may face from beneath our soil.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is nearly impossible to describe. Again, it’s less a movie as such than a series of sight gags and ridiculous ideas, the movie itself being the ultimate punch line. Sam Smith, master of disguise (Gary Smith) exists solely to attack the viewer with increasingly ridiculous, occasionally downright offensive costumes and shtick until the viewer simply throws up their hands, exhausted. If the sight of Mister Smith (a black actor) dressed as Abraham Lincoln crying “You’re free!” to a befuddled white guy isn’t startling enough, the sight of him dressed as Hitler in the very next scene certainly will be. But the coup de grace is the image of Smith dressed as a giant tomato, sent to infiltrate the tomatoes’ camp (?!). They keep cutting back to him at random intervals, sitting around the campfire with the murderous tomatoes, and each scene ends with Smith screaming in horror…it’s like some weird meme that keeps happening until the character is just never dealt with again.
And there’s more. So, so much more…the iconic and intensely painful theme song…the blatantly dubbed Asian scientist…an appearance by Superman…New York existing on the west coast…onscreen advertisements for discount furniture stores…too much to catalogue, or at least recount here. You just have to experience it. The throwaway gags permeate every scene; entire characters, whole subplots wind up as throwaway gags, and indeed, the entire film seems like one that got out of hand. One could say that that in and of itself is the film’s brilliance. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Whatever the case may be, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes did well…very well. It ultimately brought in close to $600,000 – roughly six times what it cost to produce. But in the days before every hit, no matter how modest, spawned an instant franchise, a sequel was by no means guaranteed. Indeed, it would take a decade for the tomatoes to return. But return they did – in a big way.
Flash forward to 1988 – when the world was a very different place. Elvira ruled the late night airwaves. Commander USA’s Groovie Movies served up steaming schlock to the gleeful masses every Saturday afternoon. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a stone’s throw away. Trash was king. From hipsters to undergrounders alike, the public had embraced camp. And nothing…I mean nothing was safe from getting a sequel. You couldn’t even keep track of ‘em. You’d get distracted for a minute, and Ghoulies becomes a franchise. House II inexplicably gave birth to The Horror Show. The Howling sequels raged unchecked like some lycanthropic video plague. If you had made a horror movie of any kind within the previous twenty years, you had a 60% chance of getting a sequel made. It was unto this world that Return of the Killer Tomatoes was born. Hell, if Saturday The 14th could get a sequel, why not the tomatoes?
The truly bizarre element to Tomatoes’ second cinematic life was how it all came about. In the late ‘80s, Roger Corman’s old company New World Pictures was getting into the television arena. One of New World’s subsidiaries was Marvel Productions, which produced the hit cartoon Muppet Babies. During a 1987 episode of the toon, one segment featured the character of Fozzie being attacked by the Killer Tomatoes, and even featured clips from the original Tomatoes film. Startlingly, the episode was a ratings winner, and New World began to wonder if reintroducing the Killer Tomatoes brand might not be something worth pursuing.NewWorld approachedFour Square (the original production team of Dillon, Peace, & De Bello) with a ripe budget of $2,000,000 (a nice increase from $90,000), and Return of the Killer Tomatoes suddenly screeched to life.
The moment Return begins, it’s clear that it knows exactly what Tomatoes’ legacy is…fodder for seedy, late night TV like the shows mentioned above, in this case the “Channel 73 One Dollar Movie.” Tonight’s showing: Return of the Killer Tomatoes. Well, eventually. Understandably, the low-rent host would rather rerun Big Breasted Girls Go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off (a film that would have been right at home on USA Up All Night)than endure another tomato-fueled epic. At this point, the audience is sorely tempted to side with him, but he does begrudgingly run Tomatoes, and so (perhaps to our chagrin), the movie we showed up for begins.
Within moments, we are introduced to demented scientist Professor Mortimer Gangrene (John Astin, Gomez from TV’s Addams Family), the truemastermind behind the original tomato invasion. After laying low for the past decade, he’s back with a nefarious new plan: to turn transform tomatoes into human replicas. I’m…not really sure why, but then again why not? To his credit, he does create an army of savage Rambo clones out of said tomatoes, so apparently some good old fashioned tomato-based terrorism isn’t such a bad idea after all. His mad scheme involves leading his crack paramilitary squad of heavily armed tomato-men to the nearby prison, where he plans to bust disgraced former Presidential press secretary Jim Richardson (here played with appropriate sleaze by Rick Rockwell, who would go on to be the disgraced former “star” of Fox’s Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?), and mount a coup de tat that would see Richardson overthrow the President and conquer the United States. That’s all well and good, but from the looks of it, the good doctor’s true triumph appears to be the creation of Tara, his buxom, good-hearted servant/love slave (the delightful Karen Mistal). Things go astray in his, uh, master plan when one of his wildly-mutated tomato experiments (with fur) gets rejected and chucked in the trash, only for its “sister” Tara to rescue it, and escape Dr. Gangrene’s foreboding estate.
Enter Finletter’s Pizza. In the ten years of peace since the Great Tomato War, war hero Wilbur Finletter has settled down with his nephew Chad (Anthony Stark) and Chad’s ne’er-do-well roommate Matt (a gloriously mulleted George Clooney, again jobbing for New World Pictures a year after appearing in Return To Horror High) to offer gourmet pizzas to the masses. Only now, tomatoes are outlawed (and have been since they nearly ended humanity) so the Finletters substitute every ingredient conceivable in place of tomato sauce. Delivering pizzas to the Gangrene place on a regular basis, Chad harbors a burning crush on Tara (who he doesn’t know is a tomato), so when she wanders into the pizza parlor out of the rain one night, Chad is delighted, if confused. Their courtship is immediate and intense, but it can only end in heartbreak when it is revealed that music – the key to the tomatoes’ uncanny power – has the ability to transform her into a tomato, and back again. Rejected, Tara flees along with her little pal FT (“Fuzzy Tomato”), only to be discovered and captured by Gangrene’s other assistant Igor (1984 Olympic gold-medalist Steve Lundquist). Igor, looking and sounding more like a white-bread yuppy than a hunchbacked creep (to the endless dismay of the overtly fiendish professor), just wants to be a news anchor, but puts his dreams aside to serve Gangrene’s villainy without question. Desperately trying to find Tara after their tiff over interspecies love, Chad and Matt trace her whereabouts to Gangrene’s laboratory, only to wind up in his clutches as well. FT manages to escape and get to Wilbur, who reassembles his team of surviving Great Tomato War veterans (including a crazed Sam Smith!), and takes the fight to the Doc with extreme prejudice. Who will survive, and what will be left of them? Will anyone live to pass the ketchup?! As the film finally reaches its conclusion, we see George Clooney, mullet bouncing majestically, cavorting through the set of Big Breasted Girls Go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off, smiling as he heads into the sunset (and out of the franchise) with the tomato he plans on making into his own devoted love slave.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes has several distinctions. It is, arguably, not quite as zany as its predecessor (though at times it gets dangerously close), trading in a lot of the random-gag-a-minute vibe of the first film for legitimately clever self-satire. At one point, the film runs out of money, grinding to a dead halt until the cast and crew can figure out how to scrape together a couple bucks to finish the thing. They ultimately settle on product placement, and every scene thereafter features blatant, dignity-shattering intrusion by countless real-life products. FT himself (itself?) becomes the ultimate shilling tool at the film’s denouement, as the film practically addresses the audience and demands that you buy some damned FT merchandise, that the theater had better have – if it doesn’t suck. Another big difference between this installment and the rest of the entire franchise is that there are barely any tomatoes. Since Gangrene is turning the tomatoes into human replicates, the Killer Tomatoes, as tomatoes, never really attack…should the Killer Carrots do show up after the credits, half-human and armed to the teeth, and are easily the coolest-looking things in the entire movie.
New World’s gambit paid off, and for its budget, Return of the Killer Tomatoes was a surprise success. As plans for another film got underway, the franchise would first take another detour into the realm that inadvertently helped resurrect it: that of the Saturday morning cartoon.
The animated Attack of the Killer Tomatoes debuted on Fox Kids in September, 1990 (two months ahead of the third Tomatoes film), and continued/adapted the storyline from Return of the Killer Tomatoes. Aside from a few key differences (Chad is now a pre-teen, salt makes Tara turn back into a tomato), what had been established up to that point had been wasleft intact. Gangrene (here ‘Dr. Putrid Gangrene’ instead of ‘Professor Mortimer Gangrene’, but still voiced by John Astin) is still hell-bent on conquering the world with a mutant tomato army, but unlike the films, in the cartoon, he actually does it. In the cartoon’s second season, Gangrene has taken over, but is deposed himself by his own tomato monstrosities, eventually teaming up with the Finletters and Tara to take back America!
The cartoon is notable for introducing hideous, anthropomorphic faces to the tomato antagonists, a trait which would be retained for the rest of the franchise. It only last one-and-a-half seasons (after an unpopular retooling for season 2), but it served a truly noble purpose: to sire a flood of truly awesome Attack of the Killer Tomatoes toys from Mattel, with gnarly graphics and great packaging…though alas, no plush FT.
In November, 1990, New World rolled out the third installment of the growing saga, this time direct-to-video: Killer Tomatoes Strike Back.
Back in action for more tomato-infused shenanigans, we see the triumphant return of John Astin and Dolph Lund- I mean Steve Lundquist, reprising their roles as the reprehensible Professor Mortimer Gangrene, and bumbling pretty-boy Igor. This time around, Professor Gangrene assumes the identity of Jeronahew – day-time talk show superstar (with a mustache rivaling Tom Savini), and devises a plan to brainwash his viewers into accepting tomatoes again into society.
Enter Rick Rockwell, this time as Police Detective Lance Boyle. From the first seconds we see him we know he is all business as his morning wake-up ritual consists of immediately working out, playing drums, eating coffee grounds, juggling (and eating!) oranges, putting, balancing a golf club on his face, shooting a paintball gun, and rocking some incredible 1990’s sweatpants – the pants alone mean business, honestly. After his rather intense morning routine, he hops in his little red car – one could almost call it tomato-like – and makes his way to the police station. After some paint-ball shenanigans that would probably prove fatal in today’s society, Boyle playfully hops over the counter and finds his desk. The madness continues as we see Wilbur Finletter , now a grizzled police captain, taking no joy in seeing more tomato-related crimes (“Criminal tomato activity is on the rise!” he proclaims, storming through the office).
Detective Boyle is summoned to a crime-scene involving a gruesome DBT (death by tomatoes) and the slapstick continues as a random jogger runs through the police tape cordoning off the crime scene and the tomato pun-o-meter goes off the chart when we are introduced to the foxy tomatologist (huh?) Kennedy Johnson (Crystal Carson from General Hospital), who claims she was named as a result of being conceived during the 1960 Democratic convention.
During a rather hilarious shower scene involving (in addition to both the Jaws and Omen themes) many blood-curdling screams and false alarms – though to be fair, I let out a loud scream every time I am out of shampoo too – Kennedy is attacked by tomatoes a la Psycho, but she gets the upper hand and the infamous Psycho-blood running down to the drain shot is in fact ketchup this time. She calls Detective Boyle over to investigate and the not-so-subtle passion between the two evolves, as does Detective Doyle’s choice in painfully 90’s sweatpants.
Professor Gangrene’s plan seems to be going off without a hitch when he kidnaps several members of the associated press (and Kevin West, playing a strange and easily offended bank teller who gets abducted and later tells Igor and Professor Gangrene what he does in his spare time involving dead cats). Never mind that a tomato is driving the truck – you turned in your logic card the second you pressed ‘play’ on this film. With the members of the press successfully brainwashed by horrible TV infomercials, world domination is clearly the next step in the equation. Will Detective Boyle (with his ever-dynamic pants) and Kennedy Johnson save the day, or will this be the one movie in history where the antagonist wins?
A casual observer will notice the tomatoes in Killer Tomatoes Strike Back have inexplicably evolved into Madballs-esque creatures complete with faces and the ability to understand English as well as speak (kind of). It is never explained why the tomatoes magically have faces (or how they can drive a truck) and feels akin to that Star Trek episode when the humans ask Wharf why the original Klingons look totally different than the current ones and Wharf’s response is simply “We do not discuss it with outsiders.”
Currently rocking a 2.8/10 on IMDB, and straight to video status…there is no way there could be another one…right?
Wrong. The final, post-credit scene in Return of the Killer Tomatoes hinted at a trip to France, and to France we would go. In fact, in 1991 we would see the Killer Tomatoes Eat France!
That infamous quote defining insanity as “repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results” most assuredly describes the evil Saturday-morning-cartoon-villain mindset of Professor Gangrene and his crazy ideas (by now literally a Saturday morning cartoon villain). This time, after somehow escaping a French prison (Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped this is not) and flying away in a giant tomato-shaped hot-air balloon (It’s probably safe to say that Gangrene has a fetish for tomatoes at this point) we meet up again with Igor, inappropriately rocking a sombrero and Mexican attire, as well as more Madballs-esque tomatoes that are now fully capable of conversation. The gameplan? What else? Take over the world.
After that oh-so dramatic prison break we come across Marc Price (TV’s Irwin ‘Skippy’ Handelman from Family Ties) playing our whiney protagonist, Michael. Armed with two Francs and half a Twinkie, Michael is backpacking across France when we looks up and sees that giant tomato balloon and a sandbag, courtesy of sombrero-wearing Igor, lands on his head, knocking him out.
Michael awakens to Miss Universe 1989 Angela Visser playing our heroine, Marie. Not a bad run of luck, that. Marie has been educated in the ways of American cinema, so she jumps for joy when Michael awakens and informs her that he is in fact Michael J. Fox.
Meanwhile, Igor has been busy while the Professor was locked up (the enterprising Igor purchased a castle, in fact), but we all know how expensive castles are (ask Nicholas Cage) and in order to help pay for it, it doubles as a tourist attraction, complete with tours and a gift shop. Getting past all that, Professor Gangrene announces his plan while in the laboratory…the usual world domination scheme, but this time, with a twist! It appears Gangrene stole a book from the prison library (tsk tsk!) about the “Prophecy of Nicodemus” which predicts when certain (strange) conditions are met, the new king of France will be revealed – never mind that France has not had a king since the French Revolution of 1789. It is prophecy! The prophecy has a picture of the king, and wouldn’t you know it, it looks like our friend Igor, with long, black hair (eerily reminiscent of Tommy Wiseau). The professor’s newest tomato creature fails and he concludes he needs some of FT’s DNA to make it happen.
Michael and Marie decide to see our old friend FT live in concert, as apparently he is a big singer now, billed as “Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most sensitive rock star.” He sings a modified version of We are the World with the added line “We are the seedlings.” The first half of the concert goes off without a hitch – as unsettling as it is seeing FT sing fluent English (though he mumbles when he isn’t singing, like Ozzy). However, true evil lurks nearby. Backstage, Professor Gangrene and Igor show up dressed as Santa and an elf, and bring with them the three main tomato droogs – Zoltan, Kethuck, and Viper (modified characters from the cartoon) who then kidnap our fuzzy friend. Using an FT costume, Zoltan takes the stage for the second half and the concert changes into a rock show complete with Iron Butterfly-esque vocals and roaring electric guitars. The crowd riots and Gangrene escapes with FT. Oh the humanity!
Following clues, Michael and Marie end up in the shady ‘Tomato quadrant’ of Paris, akin to the ‘Red Light District’ of Amsterdam, and end up at the oddly surreal French vegetable café known as the French Kiss, which shows other, non-tomato living veggies enjoying dinner. After figuring out that Gangrene and Igor are in the local giant castle (of course!), they infiltrate through a tour group a la Austin Powers. The visual gags are turned up to 11 when they enter the slapstick-infused dungeon (a fun-geon?) where we have light-switch operated torches on the wall, and pretty much every slapstick routine Tom and Jerry ever depicted being played out before our helpless eyes, along with Adams Family and Family Ties board games – both nods to actors John Astin and Marc Price’s previous work.
After some more breaking of the 4th wall (by now a Tomatoes staple), our protagonists get separated and follow very different paths. Michael, in a weird turn of character gets suicidal and decides he wants to join the army (?!) whereas Marie is kidnapped and thrown in a holding cell with FT. While fighting in the war (which uses some awesome stop-animation with army men), Michael comes across Louis XVII (Steve Lundquist in a wig, billed as ‘Gerald’ Lindquist) who is just another soldier who never understood why his last name was “the 17th” until Michael informs him that the prophecy from Nicodemus says he will be the new king. Without missing a beat, the two abandon the war and return to the castle to rescue Marie.
Meanwhile, in the lab, Professor Gangrene extracts that oh-so-valuable DNA from FT and creates…wait for it…Tomato-Head , a giant fire-breathing tomato, because why not. Michael decides to brave the ‘Tower of 900 Steps’ and rescue Marie facing all kinds of random obstacles, from bananas to marbles to roller skates… madness! After some tomfoolery and a very short battle with Tomato-Head, Louis XVIII chases Professor Gangrene who is hell-bent on making the prophecy come true. What happens next? Does Gangrene FINALLY win, or does he join the ranks of Wile E. Coyote and Dr. Claw in the League of Ever-Failing Antagonists?
Then again, the beauty of the B-movie is that all the rules can be broken. For instance, a scene where our protagonist Michael faces certain doom – what does he do? He takes the script out of his pocket and protests (“I Die on page 43? This sucks!”) walking over to the director to change his fate. No other type of movie, sans Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (to which Killer Tomatoes Eat France is often compared) can get away with breaking the 4th wall so often and thoroughly, as most movies depend on the audience getting sucked in and participating in the journey with the characters. Here, it only adds to the air of sheer nonsense the series has always shot for, going past satire into the realm of total absurdity. A surrealist comedy masterpiece?! Perhaps…perhaps not…
Another aspect worth mentioning is the behavior of the tomatoes in this film. Sure they are evolved into distinguished, menacing, English-speaking creatures, that’s fine. But why are they so cruel to their own species? From their first scene in the hot-air balloon, they are seen using non-evolved tomatoes as weapons as well as eating pizza – cannibalism! Then, later, they are seen using green tomatoes in the war scenes – racism?!
As with any slap-stick comedy, if the joke isn’t a sight gag or pun, it is usually a reference to another movie. We’ve already seen the links to The Adams Family and Family Ties, but did you catch the references to Casablanca, Spartacus, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Magnificent Seven, Cool Hand Luke, A Tale of Two Cities, and Chinatown? If so, congratulations, you are the target audience for this film.
The movie, the entire series, exists in a weird, parallel world to ours own; a world where the more corny and silly a movie is, the better it is. It is a world where Lloyd Kaufman is president, and the Toxic Avenger is every team’s mascot. When watching the Killer Tomato movies in sequential order, one can see a rather steep decline in quality, but in a way that IS the joke…the worse the movie is the better. Let’s be honest, these movies are not going to win any Oscars, and that’s quite alright. These are made for the fans, and not the “mainstream audience.” These aren’t some Michael Bay movies for mass-consumption, no, these are the movies that make you groan at horrible puns and feel good when you get some obscure reference (even if it’s buried in the background), and laugh at the indefensible nonsense – shaking your head the entire time
Throughout the decades, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and its inexplicable progeny have left a relatively small footprint in the world of pop culture. They remain a curiosity; a freakish, legendary symbol of weirdness from a time that seems utterly alien to many of the HorrorPups that are coming up today. Those in the know have a keener understanding of just what these weirdo epics meant in the grand scheme of things…for the world would be a sadder, blander place without them rotting on some forgotten video rack, somewhere out there. They are the stuff of myth…impossible, but real.
But then who knows…maybe we haven’t seen the last of them after all. Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols (creators of the cult internet sensation Ask a Ninja) are developing a remake of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, with Nichols slated to direct. A whole new generation may yet get the chance to experience the mind-altering effects of the other red menace for themselves. We can only hope.
As this piece was being written, a large pizza – with extra sauce – was ordered, and promptly ravaged. In short order, one of the authors got up and ran, screaming for the bathroom. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: even after all these years, the tomato threat is very real.