Roll up! Roll up! Do you love 80’s movies? Of course you do. Do you love incredibly ridiculous comedies that have the charm of a Zucker-Abrahams production? Then you need to sit down and watch the 1988 creature feature parody, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! Sequel to the daft Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Lovingly restored by Arrow Video, it is a little strange that they haven’t started with the first one, or better yet, have not released the entire saga in a lavish box set. Then again, maybe they are planning it for the near future. That said though, Return! is a great comedy sequel in the long run.
Set ten years after the original, tomatoes have been outlawed by the government following the events of the first film [labelled as the Great Tomato War]. Praised as a war hero, Wilbur Finletter (Steve Peace) and his nephew, Chad (Anthony Starke) have set up a pizzeria that serves tomato-less pizzas in America. Elsewhere an evil threat to resurrect the killer tomatoes has emerged in the form of Dr. Mortimer Gangreen (John Astin) and his assistant Igor. Gangreen does this by using a tomato transformer which turns tomatoes into replicas of human beings, and thus creates an army to take over the world. One of the replicas, an attractive woman named Tara (Karen Mistal) is sick of Gangreen’s abusive attitude and decides to take a mutant furry tomato away with her to warn of Gangreen’s experiments, and thus bumps into Chad. So it’s up to Chad, Tara and Chad’s best friend, Matt (George Clooney) to foil Gangreen’s plot once and for all.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! garnered a cult following over the years ever since it was first released in 1978. This resulted in the director, John De Bello creating three direct sequels. The whole Tomatoes saga ridiculed, but also paid tribute to Sci-Fi and Horror B-movies from the 1950’s and 60’s. Return! maybe one of the best comedy sequels in a franchise where its own production values are lampooned. It not only mocks B-movies, but the characters are also self-aware that they are in a cheap production. This results is constant fourth wall breaking, including the production running out of budget on numerous occasions thus resorting to product placement, resulting in Chad shouting “Have we got enough money to finish this turkey yet?” at the director.
Both Clooney and Starke have incredible comic timings with one another. Clooney is often deadpan and dry, whilst Starke is over emotional and the most unlikely of heroes. Whether that would be having an outright screaming contest with Tara, or having a sheer lack of confidence in getting laid. Whereas Clooney wants to go on lustful adventures with women, including trying to persuade Gangreen if he can use the tomato transformer to create beautiful women. John Astin is so enjoyable as the mad scientist archetype, the slight difference being he can have tantrums in the corner whenever he doesn’t get his way- such as when Igor fails to understand Gangreen’s euphemisms.
Both Wilbur and Sam Smith return from their original roles in the first film, with Sam Smith being labelled as a master of disguise and somehow decides to dress as dictators like Muammar Gaddafi. Whereas Wilbur surely has to rank among among the most bonkers characters in absurd comedy, evidenced by the mere mention of the word “tomato” being enough to send him into a tyrannical tirade.
Without ruining all of the jokes, comedy is the most divisive genre in movies. Some people like myself will think that Return! is comedy gold, whereas a lot more will think that this is absolute rubbish. But the thing is, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! is not one of those “so bad, its good films”. It is self-aware that it’s bad. It will self-ridicule itself over and over again, until you just can’t help but crack a smile at its endearing stupidity. You are either going to love it or hate it, if you have the slightest inclination towards a taste in a silly comedy, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! is enough to send into fits of hysteric laughter.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello
- Brand new interview with star Anthony Starke
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
- Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver