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Rated PG
Copyright 1980 Four Square Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 12 October 2008

The Characters:  

  • Mason Dixon - Head of the special task force investigating the tomato insurgency. His personal grooming habits single-handedly rekindled my interest in old fashioned shepherd's pie.
  • Lt. Finletter - Wigged out military guy who is always brandishing a sword and dragging a parachute behind him.
  • Lois Fairchild - She is a newspaper reporter on the prowl for a story. Her real problem is that men tend to avoid one-night stands with unattractive women, and Lois is not attractive. In her makeup kit is one item: a paper bag.
  • Mr. Richardson - No one sits so close to power without touching it as the President's press secretary. Temptation like that could drive a man insane; it could drive him to cultivate a crop of vegetables so deadly that Mankind would tremble at their mere mention. It could also get an amateur megalomaniac skewered by an already unbalanced individual who belongs in a VA mental hospital.
  • Sam Smith - Disguise expert. African American, but he was an expert at imitating produce or Nazis. Eaten by Killer Tomatoes after he slips up and asks one to pass the ketchup.
  • Gretta - She had the fine body of a football linebacker. At least she died like she always said she would: with her blue jogging suit on.
  • Greg Colburn - I bet that he wears his SCUBA gear to bed.
  • Mr. Swan - Head executive of Mindmaker Advertising. His attire FREAKS ME THE HECK OUT.
  • The Killer Tomatoes - They come in regular, large, and truly monstrous sizes, and are capable of mumbling, self-locomotion, and horrible violence, making them the most dangerous fruit on Earth (yes, I know that most consider them a vegetable).

Buy It!

The Plot: 

In the annals of bad movie history, people running away from the camera as tomatoes (real and regular, or fake and gigantic) are rolled down the sidewalk is one of those moments. It's the kind of plot that nearly everyone on the planet can identify as a very silly bad movie. The people who do not recognize "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" for what it is are probably living in the Amazon Basin. They still practice genital mutilation and believe that airliner contrails are left by the chariots of the gods.

The plot is simple: tomatoes suddenly turn into bloodthirsty monsters. Housewives are mauled while putting away the groceries, old folks stare in shock as a huge Brandywine gobbles down their grandson, and the police discover that buckshot is useless when a horde of rampaging Rutgers suddenly erupts from fields gone wild. The tomatoes even take out a helicopter! Not sure how that happened. I guess a massive beefsteak slammed into the tail rotor, destroying the linkage through impact and acid corrosion.

Something to watch for is a man finding a puddle of red liquid on the ground, putting his fingers in it, then bringing those same fingers to his mouth to taste the mystery substance. That happens at least twice. What in the ding-dang-heck are these fellows thinking? Sure, the stuff is likely to be tomato juice or tomato paste. What if it isn't? What if some maniac stuck a kitten in a power juicer and accidentally slopped a little cat sap on the floor? Fresh squeezed meow-meow! I never want to taste that. Do you?

To combat the tomato menace, the President appoints a secret task force. The assorted generals, scientists, and cabinet members meet daily in the Pentagon's smallest conference room. By "smallest" I mean that most walk-in closets are larger than the space in question. It is hardly a surprise that the task force cannot get anything done. Getting in and out of the room requires one to crawl over the table. Briefing the rest of the staff means standing up and having another person's nose in your crotch. Ever try to deliver a presentation with somebody's nose tickling your doodads? How about paying attention to a lecture with somebody's crotch in your face? Not good. Not good at all.

Mason Dixon is appointed the head of the anti-tomato effort and is provided a motley crew of misfits as field agents. As an investigative body, Mason's group leaves a lot to be desired; they would probably have a hard time figuring out why toilets flush, let alone how a tomato could kill someone. The underwater expert is dropped off on a rural road. He starts flip-flapping across a dusty field. The parched SCUBA diver eventually encounters a city, then a city fountain, and that is the last we see of him. Gretta is likewise left to survive on her own in the wilderness. She fails utterly; the tomatoes butcher the butch fräulein. Sam Smith disguises himself as the dead Fuhrer of the Third Reich for a short while, which makes Finletter go nuts. Finletter screaming, "It's Adolf Hitler!" actually made me laugh (seeing people walk into street signs also amuses me). To avoid further confrontations, Mason gives Sam a mission that does not involve belting out entirely random phrases in German. The undercover expert dresses up like a killer tomato so he can infiltrate the enemy camp and learn their plans.

To tell you the truth, Sam looks like member of the Fruit of the Loom gang in his Killer Tomato outfit. That or a fat and badly sunburned Julius Caesar.

Mr. Dixon then checks into a hotel. His remaining team consists of just himself and Lt. Finletter, and the loopy parachutist is a dangerously inept bundle of eccentricities. Despite that, and despite Lois snooping around to get the straight scoop on the tomato attacks (the government is covering the whole thing up), the two men do their best to investigate the numerous incidents of people.

Not the sort of fruit to procrastinate while its adversaries mill around in confusion, the Killer Tomatoes mount a huge offensive. Millions of Americans fall prey to the murderous red globes (no Lemon Boy, Black Prince, or alternative-colored tomatoes take part in the genocide). Mr. Richardson tries to mitigate the public relations fallout, but even Mindmaker, the whacky PR firm that designed the President's successful reelection campaign, cannot spin this story any way other than bad news.

The military does its best to stop the tomatoes, probably somewhere around the 33rd Parallel (vice the 38th, which is the Army's favorite). A couple of GIs perform a song and dance number, but that does not change the battle's outcome. America's armed forces are utterly destroyed by the round red devils. The United States is in deep manure. Tomatoes like manure; people do not.

Man, this film is dumb. It is a series of skits about tomatoes killing people that are loosely connected together by Finletter's parachute and Mason Dixon's muttonchops. Dumb is probably the goal, but it's still dumb.

Despite all odds, Mason Dixon does uncover the root of the tomato uprising. He also discovers a weapon that can destroy the Killer Tomatoes once and for all. Mr. Richardson is the man to blame for the tangy invaders. The suave press secretary wants to rule the world; though first he needs to do something about his furniture (Richardson has been shopping the "Cookie Monster" collection). Poor Richardson is just about to spill the entire plan to Mason Dixon, then shoot the chubby little troublemaker, when Finletter bursts into the room and skewers the bad guy with a cavalry saber.

You are probably wondering about the tomatoes' secret weakness. I am going to tell you: it is none too pleasant for us humans, either. The name of the game is pain, and the name of pain is "Puberty Love." It is a song. When the tomatoes hear it they are instantly stricken with agony and return to their natural, non-lethal state. When you and I hear it we are instantly stricken with agony, and quite likely to curl up in the fetal position. Even hitting mute on the remote does not help, because Mr. Dixon holds the lyrics up to the camera at one point.

The world could do without "Puberty Love." We hear it quite a few times during the film. The tomatoes can't stand it, I can't stand it, and you probably can't stand it, either. God, that song is awful. Whoever is singing it should stop. Somebody should put them in a grunge band and make them the drummer, just to ensure that they will never sing again.

In the end, the Killer Tomatoes are stopped by that song (that awful soul-dissolving song) and a mob of mentally disturbed people with big feet.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Hitchcock had the right idea, wrong kingdom.
  • Killer Tomato juice is aptly named.
  • Japanese people all speak "English Dub."
  • A man's back pockets should not look like awnings.
  • The snore of a United States senator can exceed 120 decibels.
  • There once was a "Steroids" cereal, which was, oddly enough, made in China.
  • People meat comes in three types: white meat, dark meat, and arm.
  • Tomatoes all speak Hutt (as in Jabba).
  • Never ask a Killer Tomato to pass the ketchup.
  • The primary duty of the President of the United States is to subsidize the nation's ballpoint pen industry.
  • Nobody wants Alabama, not even fruit-producing weeds.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - Tomato suicide bombers!
  • Opening Credits - Wow, lot of Dillons, and all of them have the same initials.
  • 11 mins - That was the most tasteless joke in the whole movie.
  • 23 mins - If I had a camera, I would take a picture of this scene and sell it as an artwork titled "Irritated Beige Morning."
  • 14 mins - Look at those beauties! The saltwater tomato is larger and more aggressive than its freshwater cousins. Krikey! They're naughty little buggers, and quite capable of biting me in half if I get too close.
  • 35 mins - Does that clock have a uterus?
  • 39 mins - Tomato bondage!
  • 48 mins - Blonde? Blonde what? Who? Where? Her?
  • 54 mins - There went a whole lot of trailers.
  • 61 mins - How exactly does a tomato rape someone? Never mind, I do not want to know. It probably involves a tennis ball machine and vaseline and...I do not want to know.
  • 72 mins - Is that a painting of Morgan Freeman tutoring George Washington Carver?


  • Richardson: "Incredible! Kamikaze tomato!"
    G-Man: "Tomatoes can't fly!"
    Richardson: "Yeah? They can't eat people either, but they're doing one heck of an impression!"
  • Swan: "First we have to convince the little housewife out there that the tomato which ate the family pet is not dangerous."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note killtomato1.wav Old Man: "Look at the giant tomato, Martha."
Old Woman: "I didn't know they grow'd them so big, Jess."
Old Man: "I wonder where he's going. He got little Timmy."
Old Woman: "Poor Timmy."
Old Man: "He ate him all up."
Green Music Note killtomato2.wav Radio Newscast: "And in other news today: in Newark, New Jersey, a man was eaten by a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich."
Green Music Note killtomato3.wav Mason: "I'm Mason Dixon, and this..."
Finletter: "My, God! It's Adolf Hitler!"
Mason: "This is Sam Smith; he's our undercover expert. He's only disguised as Adolf Hitler."
Green Music Note killtomato4.wav Puberty Love. (You should not listen to this. In fact, nobody should have to listen to this.)
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipkilltomato1.mpg - 4.6m
This dude just wanted to kill some time racing his dirt bike, but he wiped out in front of a hungry tomato. Bye, dude!

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