Attack of the killer tomatoes! Attack of the killer tomatoes! They'll beat you, bash you, squish you, mash you, chew you up for brunch! And finish you off For dinner and lunch!
Tomatoes. You pickle them for your ketchup. You squish them for your tomato juice. You cut them to pieces and feast on their raw corpses in your salads. You treat them like vegetables.But tomatoes are fruits.And they're not going to take it anymore.In 1978, a film was made spoofing B monster movies, in which tomatoes mysteriously gain sentience and mobility, becoming killer tomatoes, which then attack. It was, sensibly, called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! No genre was safe as the self-billed "Musical-Comedy-Horror Show" ripped up everything from romantic comedies to spy films, pausing long enough to take pot shots at superheroes and politics. Despite being made for less than $100,000, it's generally regarded as a failure at the box office. It, nonetheless, earned a cult following and practically became the defining film for So Bad, It's Good. (If a parody can count as that, anyway.)This would have been the end for the red menace (no, not thatred menace), if it hadn't been for an episode of Muppet Babies using footage from the film to narrate a story called, "Attack of the Silly Tomatoes". It was a highly rated episode and New World Pictures inexplicably decided the world needed a sequel and offered the creators of the original 2 million dollars to film one.
Return of the killer tomatoes! Return of the killer tomatoes! The theme song still remains the same The plot itself has hardly changed A guaranteed bet for fortune and fame!
Return of the Killer Tomatoes! was released in 1988 and featured the same devotion to quality special effects, acting skills, and tightly scripted dialog as the first film: Still none detectable. Although it clearly does benefit from the increased budget, the film retains the original's tongue-in-cheek self-aware bad-movie quality, only now with more sex jokes. This film also introduces Dr. Putrid T Gangreen, played by John Astin, who apparently enjoyed chewing on the scenery a lot as he returned for every subsequent sequel (and the Animated Adaptation).The plot, such as it is, takes place ten years after the first film. Tomatoes have been outlawed! But, alas, the younger generation has forgotten the threat they pose, and tomato smuggling is at an all-time high. Chad Finletter, nephew of the hero of the Tomato Wars, has fallen for Tara, who serves the mysterious doctor Gangrene. Little does Chad know that Tara has a dark secret; she is secretly a tomato! Can true love bring peace to all, or will blood prove thicker than chlorophyll?Any further description of the plot is probably unnecessary. You're either already overwhelmed with an uncontrollable urge to watch this turkey or pondering if its existence indicates western civilization is beyond hope. Possibly both. Would it help if we told you George Clooney was in it?Return of the Killer Tomatoes! was a moderate success, and the executives behind it made the kind of decision only corporate executives can make without being deemed insane: What these two non-child-friendly films really need to follow them up is a Saturday morning cartoon.
Attack... of the Killer Tomatoes! ATTACK... of the Killer TOMATOES!!! From Gangrene's lab come forth each week The ripe red monsters of which we speak Except when he has... a security leak! TOMATOES! TOMATOES! (kazoo solo!) Oh... isn't it a pity! Tomatoes... are eating the city! Can no one stop these mutant fruits? Where will we find our brave recruits? Can Wilbur get rid... of that dumb parachute? TOMATOES! TOMATOES! TOMATOES!
Called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, but based mostly on Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, it tones down the sex and violence, ups the kiddy antics, and adds in a huge dose of satire to make it tolerable to adults. The result is stunningly watchable, which, sadly, also meant it would be Screwed by the Network. One notable feature of the series was the large number of Fourth Wall jokes, including the regular appearance of Censor Lady, the woman charged with keeping the show suitable for children. In one memorable appearance in the episode Spatula, Prinze of Dorkness, she demanded the vampire tomato that Gangrene had created to cease talking about biting and blood, and do something more wholesome to turn victims into vampires, such as kissing them... and guess who wound up as the first victim!The first season was a spoof on movies, while the second had a plot for world domination.While the animated series didn't last long, two further movies were made: Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! and Killer Tomatoes Eat Paris!, as well as a few video games.
Tropes in this series:
Actor Allusion: A few background gags reference John Astin's career as Gomez, such as an ice cream truck that plays the Adams Family theme in the second movie and a copy of the Adams Family board game in the torture basement of the fourth film.
Killer Tomatoes Eat Paris! is also quite possibly the only movie to take Actor Allusion to the level of actually being a plot point. The main character, played by Mark Price, who played Skippy on Family Ties laments the fact that Michael J. Fox, who also played on Family Ties, went on to have a successful acting career while he's only been a B-Movie actor. Because of this, Marc Price's character (whose real name is only mentioned once or twice) tells everyone that he is Michael J. Fox and is referred to as such throughout the entire film.
Animated Adaptation: It has a tomato who can take the form of a human girl but changes back to a tomato after touching salt, and returns to normal after a sprinkle of pepper.
Who did exist in some form in Return Of The Killer Tomatoes!
Art Evolution: The second season of the cartoon completely switched from having overseas animation by AKOM to being produced entirely domestically. It was also digitally colored, one of the first (if not the first) series to feature this. As such, it looked noticeably different than the first season.
Ascended Extra: The cartoon had a few, but Tomato Guy really stands out. The basis for his character only appeared in one scene of the first movie.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The titular tomatoes don't quite reach 50 feet, but they grow very large for tomatoes. Revolutionary giant killer carrots are also seen.
However, in the Season One episode Camp Casserole... So Vine, there was an ACTUAL one.
Brown Note: In the first film, the worst pop song of all time, "Puberty Love" is one for the tomatoes. It was so bad, one giant tomato, wore earmuffs to block it out... that is, until the hero showed the song to it... in sheet music! In the second film, the tomatoes are all music-controlled, with Tara being turned back into a helpless, non-killer tomato whenever Beethoven's Fifth is played, then reverts to a human after Tara from Gone With the Wind is played. Nobody thinks to use this on the villainous tomato men.
The Cameo: Gary Condit has an uncredited cameo in the "bar fight" scene in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, years before he was more famously involved in another sort of fracas.
Not exactly a cameo, but "Puberty Love" was sung by Matt Cameron, future drummer for Soundgarden and Pearl Jam (he is credited as "Foo" Cameron).
Catchphrase: "I'm not Mad! I'm ANGRY! I'm an Angry Scientist!"
Even Evil Has Standards: One episode sees Dracula himself provide Doctor Gangrene with a vampire formula. Almost the entire town becomes vampires as a result, but Dracula ultimately provides the cure. Why? Because he feels the townspeople don't have the class to be vampires.
Expository Theme Tune: Loosely so in the case of the first film, the second is clearly an example of this trope, explaining that, yes, you are watching a sequel.
Expy: In the Animated Series, underwater expert Greg Colburn is replaced with a similar character named Floyd Bridgework and Russian Olympic athlete Gretta Attenbaum is replaced with a similar character named Mary Jo Nagamininashy, except she is German.
From My Own Personal Garden: Richardson delivers this line in the first film after tossing a tomato to Mason Dixon, who he has captured.
From Nobody to Nightmare: In the first season, Zoltan and the gang of five were Gangreen's comic relief sidekicks who were incompetent and mostly delivered pop culture references due to Igor accidentally used tapes of Gangreen's Midnight Movies to program them. In the second season Gangreen mutated the six and sure enough not only did Zoltan, Fang, Mummato, Beefsteak, Ketchuck, and Tomacho become bigger threats but they actually got Gangreen to succeed in taking over the world, until they overthrew him.
Fun with Acronyms: Differently played than usual, but fun nevertheless - I just say Operation P.P.P.P.P. (and I say it without spitting).
Power Perversion Potential: In "Return of the Killer Tomatoes", once Matt discovers the Tomato Transformation device is capable of transforming tomatoes into people, the movie ends with him using the device to transform a bunch of tomatoes into "the big breasted tomatoes go to the beach and take their tops off".
Produce Pelting: Well, of course. (To be specific, tomatoes are tossed at the camera during the opening credits.)
Not to mention the mob that Wilbur gathers at the end of the first movie to fight the tomatoes. The credits list them as "Every screwball in San Diego County."
Real Life Writes the Plot: The helicopter crash early in the film was NOT scripted, but happened to occur in front of the cameras, so it was written in. The director noted in an interview that they couldn't have afforded so fancy a "special effect" had they wanted it, but since they didn't, insurance covered it.
Tempting Fate: The heroes in the Animated Series comment that they'll have to defeat Gangrene because he never succeeds in the opener to the Second Season. He then beats them and the entire season is about his domination of the world.
The second season premiere also lampshades Gangrene's success at the end of the episode: "This is not a two-parter, this is a one-parter."
What Happened to the Mouse?: In "Return of the Killer Tomatoes" it's never revealed whatever happened to Mason Dixon, the hero of the first film, however he does appear in Wilbur's flashback of the first film.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: In the animated series, the tomatoes are clearly sentient and aware, but are killed by the hundreds. Except Tara and FT. Tara turns into a cute human and FT is already cute, so killing them would be... just wrong.