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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 119: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes
The only good tomato is in a bottle of ketchup or a jar of sauce

Cartoons in the 80's and early 90's were the best. Granted, most of them were made just to sell toys (G.I. Joe, Dino Riders, Go Bots), but they were still really fun to watch. Saturday morning were filled with hours of cartoons on multiple channels. Seriously, CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX all showed cartoons. Those were usually followed by WWF Wrestling and American Gladiators. I played soccer, Little League baseball, and eventually travel hockey, so it's not like I was glued to the TV, but I still have fond memories of waking up early and soaking in the cartoons. One I specifically remember is Attack of the KillerTomatoes. Sure, it was mostly based off the Return Of The Killer Tomatoes (starring a mulleted George Clooney!) but this is where it all started and it was time to figure out just what the hell I was watching as a kid.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is a 1978 horror comedy directed by John DeBello and starring David Miller as Mason Dixon. A serious of violent attacks on people committed by sentient tomatoes is gripping small communities and the government is desperately trying to keep it under wraps. The President's press secretary, Jim Richardson (George Wilson) tries to convince the public that there is no real threat from tomatoes while the President assembles a team to stop the tomato menace. Led by FBI agent Mason Dixon, his team includes Sam Smith, a master of disguise, Navy diver Greg Colburn, Russian Olympic swimmer Greta Attenbaum, and parachuted soldier Wilbur Finletter. Reporter Lois Fairchild has been given the task to break the story wide open and follows Dixon. The tomatoes kill Greta and push back the humans after a big battle. How will Mason Dixon and the humans defeat these killer tomatoes and who is behind their murderous rampage?

Not when they have such stylish ear muffs

Just from the title, you can tell that this is a silly movie. The real question is, “Is the movie funny?” The answer is sort of in the middle. There are some genuine laughs and creative ideas. There are plenty of spoofs and send-ups to famous horror movies such as Jaws and The Blob. People screaming in horror while tomatoes roll down the street are good for a few chuckles. The theme song along will get stuck in your head all day. The movie is very dated and stuck heavily in the 70's. While some of the jokes and references are timeless, a bulk of them do not hold up to the test of time and the humor is lost on a modern audience. I couldn't get over the hideous clothes, furniture, and buildings. Granted, that's more the fault of the 70's beyond a drug-filled waste of a decade, but good comedy movie should be funny no matter when you see them. Just take a look at some of Mel Brooks's films. Those are still funny to this day.

The acting throughout is not particularly good and when you have a comedy, the acting is everything. A quick search on imdb for some of the actors yield very little in the way of other movie credits. Another big component to a good comedy is smart and competent writing. The movie has small flourishes of good writing, but not enough to carry the movie. It seriously drags towards the end, which should never happen in a comedy. Granted, the movie is still better than say Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans or any of those terrible spoofs Hollywood keeps cranking out, but it's not Airplane or The Naked Gun. 

The horror...the horror

It was nice to finally see the original movie that spawned a strange and fun cartoon from my youth. It's actually quite surprising that a children's cartoon ever came out of such a weird movie. Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes has it's moments, but as far as spoofs go, it just didn't make the cut. The acting and writing is sub-par and a lot of the jokes are dated or just plain not funny. Still, it's a cult classic for a reason, and still worth a viewing just to check it off your list.


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