[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 20 [Happy 40th Birthday!] Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

Director: John DeBello

Cast: David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, Costa Dillon

Screenplay: John DeBello, Costa Dillon, Stephen Peace

83 mins. Rated PG.

 

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Yeah, I can’t get the theme song out of my head.

Randomly, and seemingly without consequence, tomatoes have come to life and are attacking humans everywhere. They make screechy attack sounds as they group up to take humans down once and for all. The President has put together a team to combat the tomato menace led by Mason Dixon (David Miller, That Was Then…This is Now, Speak of the Devil). As the tomatoes and the humans mount for an all-out war, it’s up to Mason and his team to stop them by any means necessary.

I tried to nail down the best description of this film, but it is a rather loose plot. The paper-thin story is an excuse to zany and wacky jokes. From the pop song “Puberty Love” that plays throughout to a discussion of between generals about getting a medal in a three-legged sack race, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a more ridiculous precursor to better satires to come like Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Some of the jokes land, some do not, and director John DeBello (Black Dawn, Happy Hour) appears to be just throwing goofs at the wall to see what sticks. I think he finds more success than expected simply by the sheer amount of jokes used.

Outside of the downright wacky, nothing in this film really works. The acting is absolutely atrocious, the writing is bland, and the lack of anything real for story just bored me to death. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes seems on the surface to be ripe for weird, comedic, and horrific action set pieces. And then, there aren’t any good action scenes. Nothing really works. That’s the cardinal difference between this and better satires. Films like Airplane! and Young Frankenstein have good stories and likable characters. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is missing key storytelling elements.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is, thankfully, short enough to get one good viewing out of. Get some friends and beers and you might just get a laugh or two. Lower your expectations…significantly, and you may just find some fun in there.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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