ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!
Special Collector’s Edition
Studio: Rhino Home Video
Film Length: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Suggested List Price:
US$24.95 for special collector’s edition
US$14.95 for standard release
Release Date: NOW
I’ve got a jingle in my head…a theme song…and it’s that from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. The song won’t leave my head either…I mean it’s such a silly song it just won’t go away! I would sing it for you all, but I’ll spare your ears of the song. Maybe you’ll see it for yourself? Ha! If you haven’t seen Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! before – beware! This is about as corny as films get.
I remember seeing this movie in the print of TV guide all of the time when I was a kid. Since it was always on ‘late night’, I had always thought it was one of those ‘classic’ films from the ‘70s that was just a MUST SEE. Naturally I was excited that after all of these years I’d finally have the opportunity to see this movie when sent to me for review…my God, what did I get myself into!
The movie’s plot revolves around a government experiment gone wrong – tomatoes begin to attack people and kill them in a horrible fashion! The government is covering it up though, and a man named Mason Dixon takes on the investigation with his special task force. Are they up for the job? Or will tomato juice or a BLT sandwich kill them first?
This movie is a total spoof on cheesy 1950s Japanese monster films with poor effects, story, and dubbing. So the filmmakers of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! set out to do the same thing! According to them – their claim was to intentionally make a bad movie. Movie critics disagree because they believe that no one could actually set out to make a bad movie. Or did they? The filmmakers seem proud to have made one of the worst movies of all time.
There are some good scenes though – unfortunately very few. One was the helicopter crash that was totally accidental but one camera operator decided to leave the film rolling to catch it and use it for the movie. It was blamed on Kamikaze Tomatoes in the film! Luckily no one was killed from flying chopper blades and debris! The second scene I liked was the meeting inside the “tight room” when our government officials have their first meeting with the scientist. Very creative. For those of you who haven’t seen it these scenes mean nothing to you so you have a choice of watching it or reading on.
This movie has dated humour and effects (is rolling tomatoes down the street and having them floating in water as they chase people an effect?) so this really stands as a ‘classic’ among its fans on the 25th Anniversary release of this movie. It must have a fan base though because it got the green light for three sequels (!), a cartoon series, and lots of Tomato merchandise – plus this great special edition DVD!
This disc is available in two forms; one in a single DVD including the movie and trailer. The one reviewed is the Special Collector’s Edition complete with a big cardboard packaging, a small movie poster and picture card of the film, and a disc full of extras adding up the running time of the disc to about 188min.
Video Quality? /
The quality of the film is dated. Filmed in 35mm, this is presented (I’m presuming) in open matte so there is no widescreen presentation of the film. I’m unsure if widescreen was ever intended. Given the massive involvement of the filmmakers with this release, I am sure they would have voiced if they wanted a widescreen presentation.
The source element can be pretty rough. The titles have dot crawl on it that makes me wonder if this really was sourced from film. Colours are muted, black levels are raised and appear washed out giving the picture a flat look. There is lots of grain, noise, dirt, and a white line that frequently runs down the left hand side of the picture. This really is a problematic source and I don’t know if there were best efforts to restore this for the 25th anniversary, as elements were never discussed on this disc by any of the filmmakers.
Audio Quality? /
Complementing the video is an equally poor soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. It is very hard to understand dialogue at times and its not always on sync with lips either (no, I’m not talking about when the Japanese guy speaks – I know that was intentionally bad dubbing). This isn’t the best mono soundtrack I’ve heard. There is plenty of hiss and limited fidelity…and not quite the highest fidelity presentation…but who expected it to be?
Special Features? /
This disc deserves the many stars I gave it because the features are’a plenty. When preparing to watch the movie, you have the option to choose the movie regularly or in tomato mode. This mode will pop up icons like tomatoes on the screen and you push your ‘enter’ button to access the special feature behind that scene. Some of the scenes are newly created material talking about the film, and others are links to the similar scene in the original Super 8mm student production of the film. You also have the choice to play the movie with the commentary by co-producer and director and co-writer John De Bello, creator and co-writer Costa Dillon, and star and writer and producer Steve Peace. As you can see, everyone took on multiple rolls in this film, and by listening to the commentary you will find that everyone from neighbors, parents, grandparents, and just anyone was used for this movie to make it as cheap as possible. Successful they were!
There is a whole slew or special features in the form of featurettes. I’m not sure how long each of these was because the running time of each featurette wasn’t encoded with them and I wasn’t counting. If I guess I can tell you they range from about six to ten minutes each. Legacy of a Legend is the first featurette in which the creators discuss about how bad of a film this was and how publicly accepted it was. Also discussed were stupid things that happened on the set that will always be remembered in their brains…
Next is Crash and Burn, a discussion about the famous helicopter crash that could have killed everyone because the pilot was late on his cue and made a bad maneuver and spinning the chopper went until it burst into pieces…damn Kamikaze tomatoes. More fame for this film is brought to the San Diago Chicken because of his role in the climatic tomato stomping ending and is retold in the Famous Foul featurette. Finally a career boost for meat rather than vegetables. Oh, I’m sorry – tomato is a fruit. Lastly are two theatrical trailers, two radio spots, and three deleted scenes. There just might be an Easter Egg hiding in here too…
Wait there is more! Fans will love some more featurettes in the Bonus Materials section. Killer Tomatomania features a guy walking around Hollywood in a big tomato suit asking people if they’ve ever heard of the film, Where Are They Now? searches for answers regarding the talent in the film as to what they are doing today. We Told You So! talks about government cover-ups. There are also two Super Duper 8 Prequels so if you ever want to see what inspired the original Attack! be sure to check out these old early ‘70s homemade flicks. They are between 20-30min each, and you do have the option to watch the original Attack! with or without commentary…the other film is silent so you have to listen to the yap (and it’s the longer one!).
Next is my favorite feature of all - Sing Along! There are six songs from the movie, each with its direct scene access, lyrics at the bottom of the screen, and a bouncing tomato to keep you on cue. Puberty Love…(did you know the drummer from Pearl Jam sang that song?) If not and you want to test more of your knowledge about Attack of the Killer Tomatos!, you can also enjoy lots of trivia questions in Tomato Trivia. Killer Stuff shows props used in this film that someone found lying around, and lastly Slated for Success takes us to the day in the life of a slate (clapboard) girl on the set. There could be a hidden tomato somewhere in this menu too…those darn tomatoes sneak up anywhere!
I think lots of work went into this disc to give Tomato fans the best they could see.
I’d love to say something totally great about this movie but I’m lost for words. Oddly enough, the longer I haven’t watched this movie the more I seem to like it. I think it’s growing on me because I think of it all the time, and I even play dead with tomatoes all over me. I know that I’m gonna put this film back in my player again and give it another spin. Could this be the beginning of me being part of the cult fan base? Uh oh…who knows? But this movie does deserve to be checked out just so you can say you’ve seen it, or, uh…seen one of the worst movies ever…