TROUBLE CITY

Doomsday Reels: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

ReviewsRyan CoveyComment
Banner - Doomsday Reels.jpg

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - Poster.jpg

The Director

John De Bello

The Actors

David Miller (Mason Dixon), Sharon Taylor (Lois Fairchild), J. Stephen Peace (Lt. Wilbur Finletter), George Wilson (Jim Richardson), Ernie Meyers (The President), Gary Smith (Sam Smith)

The Trailer

The Cause

Genetic Engineering/Corporate Sabotage

The Story

“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 or lunch!

They're marching down the halls
They're crawling up the walls
They're gooey, gushy, squishy, mushy
Rotten to the core
They're standing outside your door!

Remember Herman Farbage
While taking out his garbage
He turned around and he did see
Tomatoes hiding in his tree
Now he's just a memory!

I know I'm going to miss her
A tomato ate my sister
Sacramento fell today
They're marching into San Jose
Tomatoes are on their way!

The mayor is on vacation
The governor's fled the nation
The police have gone on strike today
The National Guard has run away
Tomatoes will have their day!

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 or lunch
Lunch, lunch
Dinner or lunch, lunch, lunch
Dinner or luuuuuunch”
- Love Theme From Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

The Rundown

Since I’m doing weird killer animal/object movies this month I figured it was time to finally tackle this series.

For those unfamiliar: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a low-budget spoof of the animals attack movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s such as The Swarm, The Birds, Day of the Animals, and various others. It is to those films what Airplane was to airline disaster movies with the main difference being that Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was contemporary with the films it was sending up.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - 01.jpg

One quiet day tomatoes begin killing people ‘en masse and the police and the military can’t hold them back. The government wants to keep things under wraps so the person they hire to oversee the tomato issue is a nobody has-been named Mason Dixon (David Miller).

Miller is awarded with a team of idiots to try and solve the tomato menace including soldier Wilbur Finletter, who enters the movie by parachute and then proceeds to wear his full flight suit and drag the parachute behind him for the remainder of the movie. He also brandishes a saber for inexplicable but funny reasons.

While they’ll be more important in later installments the tomatoes here are sort of a backdrop element. They pop up in a few scenes but for the most part the fact that there are giant killer tomatoes is just a throwaway joke about how the killer menace could really be anything.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - 02.jpg

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is very meticulously made and it clearly understands the genre its spoofing. The film-makers understand precisely where and how to make the movie bad in an authentic way and that’s to be commended because good parody is hard.

The movie’s comedy is all over the place, sometimes it’s meta-comedy, other times it’s Zucker-esque spoofery, still other times it’s things that are meant to be mocked even within the context of the movie. There’s no unifying philosophy to what kind of comedy this is but it’s okay because the jokes come at such a rapid clip that you’re not given a lot of time to think.

It’s also good that the jokes come at a rapid pace because this movie is boring as shit. As I said, the tomatoes are just sort of a placeholder and the movie’s plot of political corruption is undercooked by design so in-between jokes the movie slows to an agonizing crawl. Fortunately, it’s not a long movie but as many times as I’ve seen this film I rarely retain much of what happens in the middle 40 minutes or so.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - 03.jpg

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a weird cultural touchstone. I know that when I was younger it was just a thing that everybody knew about but as years gone by it’s more obscure and maybe it should stay that way. It doesn’t have the raw timeless power of Airplane but it does have some of the craft and charm that went into that other movie and even if it’s terminally dull in parts there’s still a lot to enjoy. If any property could stand a reboot in 2018 it’s this one.

The Shill

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! is available on Blu-Ray, and Amazon Instant.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - 04.jpg

Next Time on Doomsday Reels

“I speak perfect English. I also cook 815 international dishes, perform 637 sexual acts, use all the popular home appliances. Shall I cook you something?”