Back in the ’80s when college kids couldn’t afford a VCR, cult films were shown on the big screen at the student center. These were the films you’d hear about or read about in magazines, but never saw on your local uptight TV stations on their million dollar movie slot. The theater would be packed for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Flesh Gordon (that’s not a typo). One of the bigger titles where everyone squeezed in was the brilliantly titled Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. You’d heard about it for years. Even Johnny Carson cracked up over the title during The Tonight Show. It was legendary and all gathered to see if it could live up to its title. Now because of home video you don’t have to go to college to get the knowledge thanks to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: Special Collector’s Edition that gets deep into the red menace.
A woman is doing the simple chore of washing the dishes a tomato comes out of her sink, makes odd noises and attacks her. More mysterious tomato related deaths occur around San Diego. This leads to the government coming into the picture. Agent Mason Dixon (David Miller) arrives with his bizarre crew that includes master of disguise Sam Smith (Gary Smith), Olympic swimmer Gretta Attenbaum (Benita Barton) and Wilbur Finletter (Stephen Peace). They have to confront the nightmare from the produce department. The tomatoes grow to astronomical sizes so they can squish people. Nothing seems to work until they find the most unusual weapon that might save humanity.
To embrace Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, you have to understand that it came out during the era of the killer animals attack genre. Sharks, killer whales, grizzly bears, giant rabbits and rats all tore their way through people in a feeding frenzy. There’s so many great jokes in the film that still work including the war room that’s too damn small. It properly spoofs how inept the government and the military can be in a national disaster. The film was so influential that Tim Burton ripped off the ending for Mars Attacks! The cast is made up of a lot of unknowns except Jack Riley from The Bob Newhart Show. In a small role of a child attacked by the tomatoes is Dana Ashbrook from Twin Peaks. Perhaps the most startling fact of the film is the painful singing of “Puberty Love” is none other than Matt Cameron, the drummer for Soundgarden and later Pearl Jam.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes maintains it’s campy charms 40 years later. The musical numbers are goofy including the catchy theme song. You should invite your college buddies over to enjoy the film on your big screen TV.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer makes this film look so much better than the 16mm print they ran back in 1984. The helicopter crash looks great with the added resolution. The audio is Mono. The mix sounds great and brings out the annoying levels of “Puberty Love.”
DVD has all features of the Blu-ray.
Audio Commentary includes director John De Bello and pals as they break down how they made a low budget classic.
Super-Duper 8 Prequels (17:35) includes the test version of Attack in 8mm. It’s nice to see how they worked with even less of a budget. There’s also a commentary track. “Gone with the Babusuland” (32:27) introduces the concept of the army man investigating a case with his open parachute behind him. There’s only commentary since the film is silent.
Legacy of a Legend (14:14) has John De Bello talk about how the film was inspired completely by the title. One of the cast member remembers signing a tomato for a fan. Jack Riley jokes that his career will be The Bob Newhart Show and Attack.
Crash & Burn (3:40) recounts how the helicopter crash in the movie was real. Jack Riley was in the helicopter and describes the near death experience.
Deleted Scenes (6:04) proves they did edit the movie. The director even cut his own cameo.
Famous Fowl (2:21) is the San Diego Chicken clucking about his small role.
Killer Tomatomania (4:33) goes to Hollywood to meet the Killer Tomato guy on the Walk of Fame. They ask people if they’ve seen the film.
Where Are They Now? (2:52) is a joking look at the cast. Although this is where they point out one star went on to a career in politics.
We Told You So! (3:07) ponders if there was conspiracy about a real tomato attack.
Sing-Alongs are all the songs with lyrics. You can now know all the words to “Puberty Love.”
Slated For Success (1:57) contains the best work of Beth Reno, who operated the slate. This is a fine tribute to a person who is in every scene and never gets into a film.
Radio Spots (2:03) compares it to all the great disaster films. Can nothing stop this tomato onslaught?
Trailer (2:20) lets us know the nation is in chaos. Plus they sell the goofy fun.
Poster of the cover.
MVD Rewind Collection presents Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: Special Collector’s Edition. Directed by: John DeBello. Screenplay by: John DeBello, Costa Dillon & Stephen Peace. Starring: David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, Costa Dillon and Jack Riley. Rated: PG. Running Time: 83 minutes. Released: January 23, 2018.
Tags: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Bob Newhart Show