Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)

I have something to admit…  Originally, I had Attack of the Killer Tomatoes slated for this week’s B-Movie Enema.  About 20 minutes into that movie, I quickly realized, there’s no way to do that movie in the fine tradition of this blog.  The reason was that everything about that movie that made it what it was, was in the jokes.

You had parodies of Jaws, Superman and Lois Lane, Japanese science fiction, bad dubbing on a Japanese character, tiny oneliners, lots and lots of visual jokes, a black man who was the master of disguise and often dressed as white guys convincing others he really was the person he was disguised as, and incompetency from government types and what have you.  It’s impossible to write about because it is entirely made up of those little moments that turned out to be greater than the whole.

So I made an executive decision to change to the sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, and George Clooney’s magnificent mullet.

The original mostly concerned itself with being a riff, as well as sometimes a direct parody, of classic 50s monster movies.  Tomatoes were treated with growth chemical to make for better tomatoes and avoid bad crops and/or a tomato famine.  It turned them monstrous and they eventually learned how to get huge.  Either way, they were now hungry for human flesh.  A task force was sent after to end the tomato threat, but it turns out that the only thing that can stop the nasty little bastards was the worst song ever written, “Puberty Love”.

Ten years later, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes directer/co-writer/co-producer John De Bello brought his goofy little monster movie back with a sequel.  However, this time, it is more of an expansion of the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Extended Cinematic Universe, or AOTKTECU for you nerds out there that are going to get real pedantic on me.  In this expansion, we meet Dr. Gangreen, played by Sean Astin, who was the original creator of the killer tomatoes.  This time, flummoxed by his defeat at the hands of “Puberty Love”, plots a new evil master plan.

Viola!  That’s all you need for a sequel.  At least in 1988 terms.

I remember watching the hell out of this movie as a kid.  I think the first time I saw it was when my buddy Brian and I rented it at the ol’ video store during a sleepover back around 1989 or so.  We probably rented it 3 or 4 more times.  There was a point in which it was much, much easier to see the sequel than it was the original.  In truth, the original was really no longer paid much attention to.  In fact, it was harder to find, and Return of the Killer Tomatoes made a huge splat on VHS in video stores.  By 1991, there had been two more sequels and a Fox Kids animated series that based itself more on the sequel as opposed to the less substantial plot and smaller canon of the original film.

The movie opens with a little bit of a fourth wall breaking.  A game show looking dude comes out to present the Channel 73 “One Dollar Movie” which happens to be…  Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  As the movie starts, I’m real glad the 80s existed as the wrong movie starts – Big Breasted Girls Go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off.

Our host suddenly realizes this movie is not the right one, and they start up the right one…  Sadly.  We then see Dr. Gangreen (Astin) with his lovely, but kind of vacant in the eyes assistant, Tara, played by Karen Mistal.  We see he’s created some sort of machine that turns tomatoes into people and back to tomatoes.

The credits begin and some scenes from the original is played with a new version of the theme song that helps rehash what’s going on.  The tomatoes were defeated and all is well.  Wilbur Finletter, one of the heroes of the Tomato War, has set up a pizza shop that makes tomato-free pizzas.  So there’s all sorts of different things being put on the pizza and, well, frankly it looks really good.

Wilbur’s nephew, Chad, delivers a pepperoni and boysenberry sauce pizza to Dr. Gangreen’s.  He mostly is there to see Tara.  And I mostly remember now exactly why I liked renting this movie a lot…

That is a spicy tomato.

Chad awkwardly asks what Tara’s relationship is to Gangreen and is bummed to hear her answer – that’s she’s her lover, and that the muscle dudes around the house are gardeners and carpenters and absolutely NOT tomato men.

Chad is played by the nerdy number cruncher in Robert Davi’s gang in Licence to Kill.  HIs pal, George Clooney is the hot shot pizza cook at Wilbur’s joint.  Speaking of Wilbur, he’s got a little bit of the ol’ PTSD and is constantly wanting to watch the news about tomato smuggling and telling old war stories to no end.

After Wilbur’s big monologue about the war, we transition to Gangreen giving a big speech about how “Puberty Love” won’t stop them this time.  He also scolds Tara for accidentally hitting a tomato snake (yeah, trust me, it is a tomato that was transformed into a snake) with the vacuum, and then tells her that she will never know love because love is for the peoples and not for the vegetables.  He goes to his lab and finds a little fuzzy tomato with leafy feet.  He has his good looking, TV anchor type assistant, Igor, toss the mutant tomato away which makes Tara sad.

Over in the shenanigans portion of the town, George Clooney is running a scam to get a lot of girls’ names and phone numbers by telling them they are entering a contest to meet Chad Lowe.  Now, let’s dissect that for a minute.  Who would have thought that one of these people would be an Oscar winner, one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, and be someone who has to constantly pay for ladies’ dry cleaning bills because he constantly makes them soil themselves with their own sex sauces.  And the other guy is George Clooney…

Wait…  What?  Chad Lowe is a nobody now?  He no longer makes girls stew in their own natural juices?  Hang on a second…  Are you sure that other guy is super famous?  Alright, whatever you say guy who is just sitting here next to me and not typing this blog post out.

Who would have thought that Anthony Starke would go from being a nerdy numbers cruncher turd in a Bond movie to practically BEING James Bond now?

What?  Clooney?  Really?  That goofball is a hunk now?  Pffft.  Whatever.  I am done with this bit.  I better get back to the movie.

See! SEE! I told you Anthony Starke makes the girls wet as fuck!

That night, Tara sneaks out to save the little fuzzy tomato dude and names him F.T. (Fuzzy Tomato which, I mean, that name hardly fits him at all).  She runs away from Dr. Gangreen’s place and goes to the Finletter pizza joint where she sees Chad.  Now you may be asking…  “Say, Geoff.  Why is that hot babe wearing those big ol’ headphones on?  How is it she is making those headphones look really sexy?”  Remember, music changes tomatoes to and from human form.  She can’t listen to music or she’ll turn back into a tomato.

When he realizes she is in the restaurant, she takes off her headphones and immediately asks if he wants the sex.  Chad turns her down.  He is a goddamn idiot.  She tells him about how she knows all the sex, knows how to clean, how to use appliances (I’d pay just to watch that), and asks if maybe he would like a blowjob.  He just wants to talk.  What a goofball.

George Clooney comes home and is surprised to find Tara in the shower.  Naked.  Super naked.  George Clooney, you know being a total horn dog, wants to immediately be introduced to her and would like “a slice of that”.  She 1) asks if they would like breakfast, 2) asks Chad if he enjoyed the sex, and 3) would like to know everything about the pizza place so she can come up with a marketing plan and so forth.

Now, I ain’t gonna lie, and I know, I KNOW, this is my male genes speaking here, but holy goddamn fucking suckshittin’ mother monkey fuck Tara is perfect.  She’s so goddamn hot.  Like the very best of 80s hot, you know what I mean?  She wants to provide the sex.  Even the blowjobs.  She wants to cook all your breakfasts for, like, ever.  She offers to clean your house.  I said I know this is my male genes, I cannot help this, people.  As much as I’d like to say that we’re all equal and shit, I would literally pull someone’s lungs out of their asshole to have a tomato girl just like Tara.  I don’t even fucking care if she’s 30 years out of style.  I want that.  I want exactly that.

So much so, I’d let her do the butt stuff to me.  With the wide part of a claw hammer.

Now I have to shake this off for a moment, at least until she shows back up which is basically immediately as I type this, but I can get over it to keep going with the commentary on the movie.  So, Gangreen realizes Tara is gone.  He sends Igor out to try to find her.  Meanwhile, Igor also stops by the local prison, and tells the original villain in the first movie, former Press Secretary Jim Richardson, that Gangreen will be busting him out on Thursday.

That day, Chad and Tara spend the day together on a never ending date, walking down the boulevard and watch a mime, who then follows them to the beach before showing up at the sex toy shop that Tara literally pulled Chad into.  Tara takes quite a liking to the whips and hand cuffs and I took a 3 minute break to crank one out at that idea too before getting back to business at hand of Return of the Killer Tomatoes.

Tara and Chad run into some troubles when they see a tomato smuggler at the local grocery store.  When he says they need to stop the guy and stop all the tomatoes from, you know, existing… Tara gets really, really pissed off.  They go to dinner and a roving violinist plays a tune which causes her to turn back into a very, very sexy tomato.  Everyone freaks and runs out of the restaurant.  When the clock chimes a tune, she turns back into a sexy, sexy person again.

The next morning, Tara is having fun making toast.  No shit, she has an obsession with toasters and making toast.  However, George Clooney has a problem with her that he has to talk about with Chad.  Between the lines, I suspect he has a problem with her not wanting to give him the sex, but he talks about how she won’t let him put any music on his $2000 stereo system.  Her not liking music is weird, man.  Anyway, F.T. falls out the window and goes on a little sidewalk adventure that ultimately gets him noticed by people and they freak out because there’s a tomato running around free.

These freaked out people try to kill F.T., but Tara saves him, which then makes Chad and George Clooney realize there is something definitely wrong with Tara.  I mean she likes tomatoes!  Tomatoes are gross!  But… shit.  Tara is a tomato.  I don’t like the taste of tomatoes.  I don’t like the consistency of tomatoes.  But… but…  I want to know what her taste and consistency is.  This is a goddamn conundrum.

So a joke in the actual movie that breaks the fourth wall is the production is shut down by director De Bello because the movie is out of money.  Clooney, who is being treated like a diva on set, suggests product placement.  Then there are several minutes of product placement jokes with Clooney selling Pepsi, Nestle Crunch bars, Moosehead beer, Foster’s beer, and Crest.  Probably the best advertising these products have ever had.  This leads to master of disguise from the first movie Sam Smith coming in dressed as Muammar Gaddafi.  Because he’s so good at disguises despite being a big ol’ fat black guy, Finletter attacks him.  This then brings in a bunch of cowboys and ninjas and a big brawl breaks out.  It is bizarre, but this is the same movie that features a tomato that turns into a babe and really making me question my disdain for the real life food item.  I will say it is pretty funny how far out of their way they go to do the product placement.

After all this, Igor reports to Gangreen that he found Tara.  Why Igor doesn’t just grab her immediately whenever he’s, like, constantly near her, I do not know, but whatever.  It’s cool.  Movie has to movie and all, right?  After a day of following Igor around to see what the deal is with Tara and Gangreen and all this tomato business, Chad spies on Gangreen and realizes how he is able to turn tomatoes into people – specifically beefy army guys.  Chad hurries home to tell George Clooney what he saw.

Chad goes to tell Tara what he saw and comes into the bedroom to catch her eating those little plant food sticks that you stick in potted plants and stuff?  After they scream at each other for hours, she runs away and gets caught by Igor.  Clooney tries to tell Chad that he’s nuts.  Tara isn’t a tomato, she’s a babe!  Chad, though, knows everything.  He and George Clooney go off into the streets to search for Tara before she turns into a tomato and gets spotted by a crowd who will smoosh her.  They run into the grocery store where Tara and Chad once saw a tomato smuggler sell the red stuff to the store owner, but Chad freaks out because he thinks she’s already turned into a tomato.  Chad sees F.T. with the smuggler and grabs him and the regular tomato the guy is holding and tries to play music to change her back into a lady babe.

Eventually, Chad figures out that if he does have the tomato version of Tara, she could only be turned back into her lady babe form at Gangreen’s place.  So he and George Clooney sneak in and go down to the laboratory int he basement.  They put the tomato into the machine and different songs and it turns into people similar to the style of music they play, like Michael Jackson, the Pop, Don Johnson, and a blonde bikini babe.  Cloon-dog wants that blonde bikini babe but Chad wants to keep trying to find Tara.  Gangreen comes in and says that tomato will never be Tara and squishes it.

Igor tosses them into the dungeon and Chad thinks Tara is dead.  But Tara is in the dungeon too and the lovers are happily reunited.  While they get some PDA action going, it’s kind of hilarious that Clooney is getting no love whatsoever.  Like he’s the absolute fuck up of the group and, in truth, he’s the guy who is one of the biggest hunks in Hollywood history.

F.T. is sent with a note to Finletter.  He gets the old gang back together and they head off to fight Gangreen and save the trio in the dungeon.  Gangreen sets a 10 minute timer and leaves with Tara to break Richardson out of prison as planned.  At the end of that timer, Chad and the Cloonster will be turned into tomatoes.  Luckily, Finletter’s guys show up.  F.T. sets a diversion to clear the path for them to get inside.  Wilbur is able to break Chad and Syriana out of the tomato making machine just in time.

Our heroes head to the prison to save Tara and stop Gangreen.  The chase through the halls of the prison end at a gas chamber where Gangreen plans to gas Tara.  Gangreen and Igor are distracted by a call from the movie host from the beginning of the movie asking for the secret word.  In the melee, F.T. sacrifices himself to stop a grenade, but Gangreen turns on the gas in the chamber.

Now…  Okay, I buy the fact that Tara would survive the gas because she isn’t human.  However, I don’t understand what happens next.  Gangreen still has a tape recorder to play music to make beefy guards when they first got to the prison.  The intent is to change Tara back to a tomato, but the gas means she’s no longer a tomato but now a real person?  Hmmm… I’m rather suspect of the science behind this movie.

No, sir.  The fast and loose play on realism has ruined this entire experience.  There’s only one cure for this.  More hot pics of Karen Mistal!


Now, if you thought I was some sort of crazy ass sick-o while drooling over Karen Mistal in Return of the Killer Tomatoes this week, well…  Next week is a movie called Sexsquatch.  There’s no connection here.  I just wanted to point out that there’s a movie called Sexsquatch and it is next week’s movie.  I can only imagine what kind of commentary I might have for that movie.  I mean, I’m very sure it will be studious and very intelligent and exceptionally learned in how I will speak of the multiple award winning Sexsquatch.

There’s only one way for you to know for sure, though…  You have to come back to find out.  Until then…  One more sexy pic of Karen Mistal, please!

Oh yeah…

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