Courtesy: Four Square Productions/MVD Entertainment/MVD Visual
“The worst movie of all time.” That is the wording that has often been used to describe Four Square Productions’ 1978 camp cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Yes, the movie is bad, but the fact of the matter is that it is meant to be that bad. It’s too bad that so many people have missed that point over the years. Early this week, MVD Entertainment Group’s movie branch MVD Visual re-issued the so bad it’s great flick on a new DVD/Blu-ray combo pack with brand new bonuses, giving those who still hate the movie another chance to change their minds and see the light while also giving true fans (such as this critic), a brand new opportunity to finally add the movie to their home libraries. There is so much to like about this movie beginning with its story. This will be discussed shortly. While there is a lot to like about this brand new re-issue, there is one minor qualm that must addressed — the sound mixing between the movie’s main menu and the rest of the presentation. It’s minor, but cannot be ignored, and thus, will be discussed later. While the problems with the sound mixing cannot be ignored, they are luckily the movie’s only negative in its brand new re-issue. The bonus material included in this re-issue rounds out its most important elements. Each element is, in itself an important part of this reissue’s overall presentation. All things considered, this cult classic still proves once more why re-issues can be — and often are — just as important annually as the new theatrical releases that fill theaters.
MVD Entertainment/Visual’s brand new re-issue of Four Square Productions’ 1978 camp cult classic (say that five times fast) Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of the best movie re-issues that will be released this year. That statement is supported easily in no small part through the movie’s story. The story, in a nutshell, follows the events of an attack by a bunch of…well…killer tomatoes on an unidentified town and the attempts by a rag-tag group of people to stop the fruity (remember, tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables) attack. The only explanation of how the tomatoes came to be was an opening scene showing an experimental garden. Audiences are left to assume that it’s a government establishment. Even as little as it is, it’s still funny, considering that they decided to change the tomatoes’ origin in the movie’s sequel. If that isn’t enough proof of how wonderfully silly this movie’s story is, then the random musical numbers, tickers at the bottom of various scenes with nonsensical phrasing and completely outrageous, over the top acting definitely show why this movie is just a fun, turn-off-your brain ride. Ironically enough, as random and outrageous as this story is, one can say to its benefit even more that the story actually manages somehow to stay on track through it all. It never allows itself to get so sidetracked with its zany material that it gets bogged down. Those behind the story’s creation are to be commended for that, especially as much as is thrown into the mix. Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the movie’s story is so important to its presentation. It’s just a dumb, fun movie that is a laugh riot because it is so dumb. Hopefully those who missed that in the movie’s previous release (and those who have never seen the movie) will see it this time around now that the story is seeing the light of day again. While it is obviously important, it is only one of the reissue’s key elements. One cannot ignore the one glaring issue presented in the movie, its sound mixing.
The sound mixing involved in the movie’s new home re-issue is problematic to say the very least, for the movie’s presentation. As soon as the movie’s main menu comes up, audiences are presented with a decidedly ear-piercing whistle that opens the movie’s main theme. The whole thing is so loud that it forces audiences to push down the volume on their televisions. From there, audiences are then forced to turn the volume back up once the movie starts in order to be able to hear. the same discrepancy happens when going back and forth between the main menu and the bonus material included in the new re-issue. The bonus material is presented at a very low volume while that main menu music was obviously recorded at a very high level. The only option that this critic has found to work is to keep the movie and bonus material at one level and then mute the TV while choosing either so as to not have to endure that overpowering sound of the music on the main menu. It should be noted that this critic has nothing against the movie’s theme. The problem here is the seeming lack of attention that was paid to the audio balance between the movie, menu music and bonus content. If more attention had been paid to balancing each piece’s audio, this new presentation of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes would be perfect. If the movie should ever get another re-issue, hopefully this will serve as a reminder to those re-issuing it next. Now, having discussed this one issue, it should be noted that it is the movie’s only negative. The bonus material is its other positive.
The bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue adds so much to its overall presentation. Audiences are treated to the original 8 mm take of the movie that would serve as the basis for the big screen feature that has gone on to become a cult favorite. They are also treated to the very first movie made by those behind this movie, called Gone With The Babusuland, which is supposed to be a spy movie, and is almost as outrageous as the original take of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. There’s even mention in the included commentary that it could be seen in watching this “movie” how the latter movie could be made. That speaks volumes about each movie’s entertainment value. The audio commentary included in the main feature adds its own depth to the movie’s presentation, too. Right off the top, audiences learn through the commentary that the tomatoes splat so well on the opening credits because they were boiled ahead of time. There’s even note of the meeting scene with the military officials being stolen from a Marx Brothers film. If that doesn’t add some appreciation to this movie, nothing will. Viewers also learn as Mason Dixon is first introduced that the cast did its own stunts and that for some of the shoots, the crew didn’t even get permits, but shot guerilla style. That was brave, and clearly paid off. This is all within the movie’s first 20 minutes or so. The insight and entertainment continue nonstop throughout the movie. As if all of the entertainment and insight offered through the already noted bonuses wasn’t enough, audiences are also treated in the bonus es to a faux doc following where the movie’s cast went after the movie was made including a hilarious short pseudo-conspiracy piece, a sing-a-long feature, in which audiences discover from Director John DeBello that it even gained fame on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Between this and all of the other bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue audiences get so much extra enjoyment, and the movie gets so much more depth to its presentation. It really is the finishing touch to the movie’s presentation in this case. When it is joined with the simply outrageous story at the center of the movie, the whole of those elements makes this presentation more than worth the watch and easily one of the year’s best DVD/BD re-issues. That is the case even despite the issue of the sound editing and mixing here.
MVD Entertainment/Visual’s brand new re-issue of Four Square Productions’ 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues hands down. Between its laugh riot story and its expansive list of bonuses, the entertainment factor is high here. There is also plenty of insight offered through the commentaries included with the movie and its bonuses. Even with the problems clearly raised through the movie’s lack of audio balance, those noted elements are more than enough to make the movie’s new re-issue worth the watch. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online now at:
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