Return of the Killer Tomatoes is the first film I watched after Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood, and the two films couldn’t be any more different.
I have to say, at this point, that I have never seen the first movie, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but I’d doubt I was at a disadvantage when it comes to the plot. If you disagree, then… to-may-to, to-mar-to, let’s call the whole thing off.
Anthony Starke is the hero of the hour, as Chad Finletter, nephew to pizza shop proprietor Wilbur Finletter (Rock Peace – his given name here, although his real name is J Stephen Peace, and he’s also one of the scriptwriters). Wilbur saw off the ketchup-producing fiends ten years earlier. Playing the straight man, to the more comedic Starke, is the one and only George Clooney in an early role, as Chad’s best friend, Matt, and would you believe that of the two, it’s Chad who gets to score with the beyond gorgeous Tara Boumdeay (Karen Mistal). Yes, that really is her character’s name.
She’s the busty assistant of the evil madcap Professor Gangreen (The Addams Family‘s John Astin), who also has to rely on the help of the idiotic yuppie pervert Igor (Steve Lundquist), after Tara runs off with our hero. Hoever, she has her own problems, given that she used to be a tomato, in a world where tomatoes are banished, which means that Chad finds it difficult to make pizza without said fruit, as they are now illegal. But since he doesn’t know her secret, he doesn’t object that Tara wants to bonk his brains out like there’s no tomorrow.
Throw in men dressed (or semi-dressed) like Rambo, purposely bad special effects, hlarious product placement gags that came well before Wayne’s World, and the fact that the film regularly breaks the fourth wall between the film and the audience, and this is a brilliant film and a comedy not to be missed.
Of course, it doesn’t make a jot of sense, and one of many scenes that made me laugh out loud was when the two guys are trying to rescue Chad’s beau. Chad stops and cries out, “TARA!!”, while Matt also stops and screams, “STELLA!!”, dropping in a reference to A Streetcar Named Desire. There are many other movie references in here, too.
And if you still think you might be troubled by not knowing the plot of the first film, then you’ll be glad to know that Wilbur starts the film with summary of what happened last time, including the fact that music killed the evil tomatoes (“Puberty Love”, being the song), so that’s where Mars Attacks! got that idea from, in 1996.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and while it looks okay a lot of the time, early on, the print has some hazy-looking issues, especially early on, so it’s not the greatest print we could’ve seen.
The audio is in DTS HD 1.0 mono, as you’d expect from a film of that era. There’s no problems with it, but the mono means that nothing particularly stands out.
The extras are as follows, but while the film is great, there isn’t a huge amount in the way of extras:
- Hangin’ with Chad (17:24): A new interview with Anthony Starke, recorded in LA, in March this year, and he doesn’t look any different!
- Stills Gallery (2:27): And now, it’s time for the gallery… pictures are shown while the Big Breasted Girls theme plays in the background.
- Theatrical trailer (2:15): Presented in 4:3.
- TV spot (0:30): A shorter version, again in 4:3.
- Reversible sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
- Booklet: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver
- Audio commentary: with writer/director John De Bello and Michael Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures.
The main menu features a short piece of theme tune set to clips from the film. Subtitles are in English, and there are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the film.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes is out tomorrow on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: June 27th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (Mono)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John De Bello
Producer: J Stephen Peace
Screenplay: Stephen F Andrich, John De Bello, Costa Dillon and J Stephen Peace
Music: Neal Fox and Rick Patterson
Chad Finletter: Anthony Starke
Matt Stevens: George Clooney
Tara Boumdeay: Karen Mistal
Professor Gangreen: John Astin
Igor: Steve Lundquist
TV Sportscaster: Charlie Jones
Wilbur Finletter: Rock Peace
Bob Downs: Mike Villani
Sam Smith: Frank Davis
Sid: Harvey Weber
Charles White / Director: John De Bello
Greg Colburn: Ian Hutton
Pizza Customer: Gordon Howard
Jim Richardson / Tomato Dealer: Rick Rockwell
Prison Guard / Man in parking lot / SAG representative / Product placement customer / Reporter: CJ ‘Clark’ Dillon
Mime: Mark Wenzel
Store Owner: Spike Sorrentino
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.