Film Review: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)
Success of a film often has little to do with its quality. This is especially the case with the films that are deliberately made bad in order to exploit some sort of “trashy” appeal or with hope that they would eventually gain something of a cult status. Or they give such impression regardless of their makers’ original intention. One such example is Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, 1978 comedy by John De Bello.
As the title suggests, the plot deals with tomatoes that, for some inexplicable reasons, developed murderous instinct and taste for human meat. What begins as the series of isolated incidents quickly develops in the national crisis, but US President (played by Ernie Meyers) tries to avoid panic and sends his dedicated press secretary Jim Richardson (played by George Wilson) to calm the public with clever PR campaign. In the meantime, top government scientists can’t find the answers about what caused the phenomenon and how the killer tomatoes can be stopped. Instead, a group of top secret intelligence operatives led by Mason Dixon (played by David Miller) is assembled and sent to the field in order to gather necessary information. They are followed by Lois Fairchild (played by Sharon Taylor), newspaper reporter determined to find the truth about what really goes on.
Made with budget of 90000 US$, which was quite low even for 1970s standards, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! had its most expensive scene in created by an accident – a helicopter crash that was ingeniously written into the script. The special effects are bad and unconvincing, and the cast is made mostly by amateurs or actors who remained completely unknown. Originally intended as a parody of 1950s and 1960s science fiction horror B-films, The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, like many uninspired parodies in Hollywood, chooses more contemporary targets for spoofing, which includes Spielberg’s Jaws, incompetent US government, increasing importance of PR firms in political life and general economic woes in 1970s America. Quality of humour varies, with the best scenes and most effective lines of dialogue being featured in the first part, including MontyPythonesque segment about government officials and experts meeting in world’s smallest conference room. Later, many jokes overstay their welcome and introduction of uninspired music and dance numbers don’t help very much.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! didn’t have particularly impressive numbers at the box-office, but it later became a huge hit on emerging video market. This might be explained that its inherent badness worked better with the audience enjoying it during parties with beer, pizza or some mind-altering substances. This success led to a cult status, creation of franchise with three sequels and animated series. On the other hand, for the audience who never knew nor cared for its reputation this film can bring some entertainment, but only if they watch it only once.
RATING: 5/10 (++)
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Movie URL: https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/2182-attack-of-the-killer-tomatoes