• Return Of The Killer Tomatoes

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: June 28th, 2016.
    Director: John De Bello
    Cast: George Clooney, John Astin, Anthony Starke, Karen Mistal
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Directed by John De Bello as a follow up to his 1978 cult hit Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, 1988’s Return Of The Killer Tomatoes takes place after the events of the first film. Given how that story played out, America now lives without tomatoes and this makes some people very sad.

    Enter Professor Gangreen (John Astin), a slightly unhinged man who lives in a big house at the top of a hill. Here he works on his pet project – to create a race of uber-tomato men! He’s already successfully turned a tomato into his foxy mistress Tara Boumdeay (Karen Mistal), so he’s done something right. Or has he? Tara is far more interesting in local pizza delivery guy Chad Finletter (Anthony Stark) than in her creator. Before you know it, Gangreen has plans to take over the world, Tara and Chad learn about this and they, along with some help from Chad’s horny buddy Matt (George Clooney), have to set out to stop him.

    And that’s more or less all there is to the story. Along the way the movie indulges in wanton and very intentional product placement jokes, makes some goofy stabs at eighties action movies like the Rambo series and makes thinly veiled references to older horror and sci-fi pictures aplenty. The whole thing was shot on the cheap (there aren’t any actual ‘Killer Tomatoes’ in this movie – this time around they’ve been transformed by Gangrene into people… and that definitely helped with the budget!) and it’s not the most consistent comedy out there but it is, more often than not, pretty funny. The film also works some amusing movie host segments into the storyline that are fun and kind of clever.

    John Astin is a kick here. He’s completely manic pretty much all of the time and well suited for a part like this. He talks all the mad scientist clichés you could hope for and melds them into one over the top performance – anytime he’s on screen, the movie holds your attention. Karen Mistal is alright as Tara while Anthony Starke seems to be enjoying himself as the male lead, the hero of the story. Of course, the big draw here for a lot of people will be seeing George Clooney in a fairly early role. Hi Matt has got one thing on his mind – girls - so here he’s playing the sort of typical womanizer guy. Clooney does just fine in the part, he show good comedic timing and plenty of charm.

    Throw in a great theme song, a cute little Fuzzy Tomato guy named F.T., lots of pretty girls and a beautifully dated synth score and you can easily look past some of the failed jokes and the fact that the movie is a bit longer than it needs to be. Not a perfect film, but definitely an enjoyable one.


    Arrow presents Return Of The Killer Tomatoes on Blu-ray on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that looks about as good as it probably can. Detail is decent save for a couple of murky looking shots here and there and texture is also very fine. Colors are reproduced pretty nicely and look lifelike enough while contrast is a little less consistent than you might hope for. Black levels are pretty good and shadow detail is also generally quite strong. Some softness seems inherent in the source materials. There are no issues with compression artifacts and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of digital manipulation, meaning no obvious noise reduction and a nice, moderately grainy, film like appearance free of any serious print damage even if minor print damage and some occasional telecine wobble pop up.

    Also strong is the English language LPCM 2.0 Stereo track. There are some nice moments where some left to right channel separation helps bring a bit more boom to the action scenes and there’s a strong low end anchoring those scenes. In the film’s quieter moments, dialogue is clear, easily discernible and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion. The score sounds about as good as it can and all in all the audio is also a marked improvement over what fans have had here in the past. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    The extra on this disc start off with a new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello (moderated by Michael Felsher), the man responsible for all four of the Killer Tomatoes movies thus far in the history of the world. He discusses why he wanted to follow up the original film with this second entry, some of the casting choices that were made, the locations, the effects work and a fair bit more. He’s a chatty guy and given his involvement with the franchise over the years, he’s got some good stories to tell.

    The disc also contains a new seventeen minute long video interview with actor Anthony Starke. He starts off by talking about how he got the part in the picture before elaborating on what he tried to bring to the performance. He’s also got some great stories about working with John Astin and with George Clooney on the film. Starke looks back on all of this pretty fondly and with a good sense of humor.

    Outside of that we get the film’s original theatrical trailer, a still gallery menus and chapter selection. The disc comes packaged in a clear Blu-ray case that also contains an insert booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver along with credits for the feature and the disc. Arrow have also provided some nice reversible sleeve art with the original one sheet on one side and a and newly commissioned piece by Matthew Griffin on the other side.

    The Final Word:

    Return Of The Killer Tomatoes is absolutely as ludicrous as it sounds, but there’s no shame in that. The movie is a lot of goofy fun and the cast really give this one their all. Arrow Video has done a fine job bringing this turkey to Blu-ray in their typically grand style. The feature looks imperfect but is considerably better than the DVD release. It sounds very nice and there are some decent extras here too.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Thank god I found another fan. I've been reading some reviews lately that have completely trashed the film (such as the terrible review on DVDDrive-In) Great review from a great reviewer!

      Love this movie. Lots of silly but hilarious sight gags.