January 27, 2018


Starring David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, Stephen Peace, Ernie Meyers, Eric Christmas, Ron Shapiro, Jack Riley, Al Sklar, Dana Ashbrook. Directed by John DeBello. (1978, 87 min).

About halfway through reviewing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, my daughter came into the room just as a character was fleeing in terror from one of the titular creatures - obviously rolled like a bowling ball by a crew member just off-camera. She gave me a questionable glance and quipped, "Really? Why?" I replied that it inspired fond childhood memories.

As part of MVD Visual's "Rewind Collection," this Blu-Ray of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is obviously intended to evoke nostalgia in the slightly-south-of-sanity crowd, who once ventured to Mom & Pop video stores in search of lowball laughs. Chances are you once had this title among the stack of tapes tucked under your arm, either to laugh with it or at it.

But I can do VHS vanguards one-better. Not to date myself, but yours-truly actually paid to see Attack of the Killer Tomatoes at the Mall 205 Quad Cinema (RIP) when it was first released in 1978, choosing it over Heaven Can Wait playing next door (hey, I was15). I laughed, both with it and at it, as well as my own self for throwing away perfectly good lawn-mowing money on a one-joke premise built around an intentionally stupid title...a common gimmick nowadays, but pretty rare 40 years ago.

James Cameron, eat your heart out.
40 years??? It seems like just yesterday that I found the film's deadly ditty, "Puberty Love," supremely chuckleworthy because it had 'puberty' in the title. But indeed, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes turns 40 this year, long-since earning the status of cult classic. No point in voicing an opinion here, since anyone interested in this disc already knows if it's good, bad, so-bad-it's-good, a good attempt at a bad movie or a bad attempt at a bad movie. I think it goes without saying the film is all those things.

Newcomers, however, might be surprised to discover the concept of making an intentionally bad movie didn't start with Sharknado. It probably didn't start with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, either, though it was arguably the first to get everyone's attention. And while non-sequiturs are a common staple of modern parodies, this one beat Airplane! into theaters by a few years. This may not make one appreciate the film any more - it still plays like an overlong Saturday Night Live sketch - but let's give credit where it's due.

"What do you think? I paneled it myself."
Disciples of DeBello & Friends, on the other hand, will find lots to love here. For such a scrappy homegrown movie, this Blu-Ray features a pretty impressive video transfer; I don't recall the film looking this good even in theaters. It's also loaded with informative and entertaining bonus material (listed below), and fans should be pleased that many of the featurettes are as irreverent as the film itself. If nothing else, the filmmakers have no illusions about their place in movie history.

None of us who remember the film have any illusions, either. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is what it is...a silly farce made by a bunch of guys whose ambition exceeded their finances (and talent). Whether we're laughing with it or at it, the fact we're still talking about it has to count for something.

FEATURETTES (most are of the tongue-in-cheek variety):
"Legacy of a Legend"; "Crash and Burn" (how the accidental copter crash was incorporated into the film); "Famous Fowl" (an 'interview' with the San Diego Chicken); "Killer Tomatomania"; "We Told You So"; "Where Are They Now?"; "Slated for Success" (a profile on the film's slate clapper)
"SUPER DUPER 8 PREQUELS" - Two shorts made before the film, including a 'rough draft' of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
SING-ALONGS OF ALL SIX SONGS (including everyone's favorite, "Puberty Love")
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director John DeBello, Steve Peace & Costa Dillon.

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