Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual
It is hard to believe but nearly thirty years have passed since the indie spoof flick Return of the Killer Tomatoes was originally released by KT Entertainment and New World Pictures. More specifically 28 years have passed since its original release. And at last check roughly eight years have passed since the cult classic was released on DVD. That release was via independent studio Anchor Bay Entertainment. Now thanks to another independent studio—Arrow Films—it has received its first Blu-ray treatment. Released on June 28th, the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray presentation is another must have for any true movie buff. That is due in part to the movie’s writing, which includes not just its story but its smaller items, too. This will be discussed shortly. The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing. The bonus material included in the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray platform rounds out the movie’s most important elements. Each element is important in its own way to the movie’s presentation. Together, they make this new re-issue one of the year’s only truly welcome sequel even being a previously released movie. It is again, one more absolute must have for any true movie buff.
Arrow Films’ new re-issue of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is an absolute must have for any true movie buff. It is also one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues. That is due in part to the movie’s writing. This includes both the movie’s story and the script’s smaller details (E.g. dialogue, story-telling, etc.). In an age when sequels are churned out just for the sake of being churned out, very few of said offerings offer anything substantial for audiences. This sequel however is the exact opposite. It is a full-on nonsensical story that takes every opportunity to entertain audiences. It sees the evil Professor Gangreen (John Astin—The Addams Family, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Recess) crafting a new way to use tomatoes to take over the world. This time he has found a way to turn tomatoes into humans and vice versa using toxic waste, music, and a special chamber. When Tara, (Karen M. Waldron—Space Cowboys, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Coach) one of Professor Gangreen’s tomato/human hybrids runs away from his mansion with her furry tomato friend “FT” the story is eventually set in motion. She tries to hide her true identity from boyfriend Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke—Prison Break, The Magnificent Seven, The George Carlin Show) things begun to unravel, leading to lots of trouble. Of course the story does have a happy ending. Even greater about the whole story is that despite its title there are never any killer tomatoes in the movie. The whole movie centers on Professor Gangreen’s attempt to turn tomatoes into humans and Chad’s eventual plan to stop Gangreen’s plan. It makes the movie’s title that much funnier in hindsight. The story and title are just a portion of what makes the movie’s writing so important to note here. The smaller details of the movie’s script are just as important to note as its story in examining the importance of the movie’s writing.
The story at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is undeniably important to note in examining the movie’s writing. It is just as important to the movie’s overall presentation as to just the writing. It is only one part of the movie’s writing that should be considered, though. The scripts smaller details are just as important to note in examining its importance as its story. One of the most notable of those details is the story’s constant, deliberate breaking down of the fourth wall. Sometimes it is overly blatant, which makes for plenty of laughs. At other times it is a little bit more subtle but still just as deliberate. This still makes for its own share of laughs, too. One of the funniest of those overtly deliberate moments comes late in the movie as the “director” stops the filming and claims that there is no more money to film the movie. This leads lead star George Clooney (yes, that George Clooney) tells everyone that they should consider using product placement, since, after all, it is the 80s. His delivery in this moment is one of the examples of what makes the cast’s work so entertaining. It will be discussed later. The very fact that the movie’s writing team would so openly make a joke about product placement in movies, and then proceed to use said practice as its own joke within the story is absolutely hilarious. It is just one example of the importance of the script’s smaller elements in its overall presentation. Igor’s (Steve Lundquist—Earth Girls Are Easy, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back) aspiration to be a newsman is another example of the importance of the script’s smaller details.
That the movie consistently lets audiences know that they are watching a movie by breaking that fourth wall is an important piece of the movie script. It is a smaller detail within the movie’s writing. But it does so much to entertain audiences and advance the story. That is because neither the writers nor the cast take themselves the least bit seriously at any moment in which this happens. Igor’s drive to become a newsman all while being Gangreen’s oafish henchman is another of those small yet so entertaining elements of the script. He is so set on being a newsman that (as is revealed later in the movie) his room in Gangreen’s mansion is a virtual shrine to some of the most well-known news broadcasters of the time. There is even a picture of one of those figures surrounded by candles, as if it was an altar to her. As if that isn’t enough, he even drives around in a garbage truck with the sign of a news station that he has made up himself. Speaking of the news, the writers also poke fun at the news media in the bigger picture of the story. This is yet another of the script’s smaller yet still so entertaining elements.
The blatant breaking of the fourth wall throughout Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the character depiction of Igor are two smaller yet still entertaining elements of the movie’s script. They are just as important in examining the importance of the movie’s writing as the movie’s story. They are hardly the only important details to note in examining the importance of the movie’s writing. The writers’ poke at the news media is just as notable as the previously noted elements. Time and again, the writers poke fun at the broadcast news media showing its willingness to do whatever it takes to get people to watch. The sad reality is that this depiction is actually quite accurate even today. Sure there’s a certain amount of embellishment in at least one scene. But in the bigger picture of that depiction, it is pretty spot on even now nearly thirty years after this movie originally premiered. Considering this it makes this element even funnier, and shows once again why the script’s smaller elements are just as important to the movie’s overall writing as the movie’s story. There are so many other elements and moments that could be cited in exhibiting what makes the script’s smaller elements so important. Audiences will have to discover them for themselves. Moving on, the work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s overall presentation as its writing.
The writing at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is hugely important to note in considering what makes this movie such a fun flick. From its full-on nonsensical story to its smaller yet equally nonsensical elements the writing forms a solid foundation for the movie. The work of the movie’s cast is just as solid of an addition to that foundation beginning with that of John Astin. Astin is just as *ahem* kooky (just not spooky) here as he was as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family. The distant look in his eyes as he delivers his lines makes his bizarre delusional personality entirely believable and so hilarious at the same time. George Clooney is just as entertaining as Chad’s friend Matt Stevens. It is interesting to note Matt’s womanizing ways and the kind of characters that he has played since. Given, Clooney was already in television before joining the movie’s cast. However, one can’t help but wonder if this role played any part in the roles that he would take on in the years to come. Case in point his character on Roseanne. He was very similar in his suave, confident womanizing personality. J. Stephen Peace cannot be ignored in examining the work of the movie’s cast either. He is wonderful as the Tomato War hero Wilbur Finletter. He is so impressive in his portrayal as it is so much along the lines of the stereotypical war veteran presented in other comedies. That is evident in his one-track mindset and his firm beliefs as a result of his experiences. It is just one more way in which the cast’s work proves to be so important to the movie’s presentation and hardly the last. Anthony Starke is just as hilarious as Wilbur’s nephew. Even Waldron shines as Tara in her own right. Whether through her performance, that of Starke, or any of the movie’s other cast members, the fact remains that the work of the cast in whole is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing. It is also not the last of the movie’s most important elements. The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to note as its writing and the work of its cast.
The writing behind Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the work of the movie’s cast are both integral in the movie’s overall presentation. Each element makes the movie hugely entertaining in its own right. Collectively they reveal the movie to be just as underappreciated as it is entertaining. That says plenty. The combination of those two elements only does so much for the movie, though. The movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue also includes a feature-length commentary from writer/director John De Bello and Michael Felsher, from Red Shirt Films that is just as entertaining in its own right as the movie’s writing and the cast’s work on camera. Audiences learn in hearing the commentary that this movie in particular only happened because there was actually demand for the movie on the part of audiences who had watched the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. De Bello jokes here about it when comparing that demand to Hollywood’s current practice of announcing sequels for movies before said movies’ progenitors have even hit the big screen. He hit the nail right on the head there. That didn’t use to be Hollywood’s practice. But now it’s become the norm for Hollywood, a way of life for the industry almost. De Bello also reveals that New World Pictures didn’t want the movie to look too good because it was, after all, a spoof. This is all within the first ten minutes of the movie or so. There is also a discussion later on the casting of Anthony Starke and George Clooney that leads to a separate yet insightful discussion on the transition of TV stars to the big screen at the time. It is interesting to learn that, at the time, it was basically a death sentence for an actor’s career when a TV actor tried to make the jump to movies. All of this is just a glance into the commentary provided within the movie. There is so much more entertainment and information provided throughout the course of the movie’s hour and thirty-nine minute run time. Audiences will find their own favorite information and entertainment from the commentary when they watch this new Blu-ray re-issue for themselves. That overall entertainment and information joins with the movie’s writing and the cast’s work to make the movie’s overall presentation lots of fruity (tomatoes are NOT vegetables. See what I did there?) and funny entertainment for any true movie buff.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes is one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues. It is an absolute must have for any true movie buff. That is proven clearly in the movie’s script. Both the story at the center of the movie and its smaller elements are so nonsensically funny that one can’t help but laugh. That is exactly what the cast and crew wanted after all. The work of the movie’s cast is just as enjoyable as that of the movie’s writing team. The cast’s interpretation of the script and characters will keep audiences laughing just as loudly as the story and its smaller items. The bonus, feature-length commentary adds even more enjoyment to the movie. That is because of the jokes and information that are shared throughout. By now it should be clear just how important each element is to the overall presentation of Return of the Killer Tomatoes in its new Blu-ray re-issue. All things considered this new re-issue reminds audiences just why it is such an undervalued movie. They show why the movie, now in its new Blu-ray re-issue is an absolutely must have for any true movie buff and one of the year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues. It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Films’ online store. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.