Whenever you hear the term “Cult Classic” or “B-Movie”, I am curious how many people think of this movie here. I mean, this is definitely one of the quintessential cult classics that everyone has heard of and are told they must see. That’s how it was for me at least, though I also wanted to see it when I heard about the end scene. So let me get right into the review for Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.
The plot: The movie starts with a scrolling text, stating that when Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was released in theaters, people laughed at the notion of flocks of birds attacking people until an attack occurred in 1975. The movie then cuts to a woman washing dishes in the sink when she notices a tomato coming up from the drain and start rolling towards her as she screams in terror. The police investigate her death, with one of them noting that the red substance she is covered in is not blood, but tomato juice. More and more people are shown getting killed by tomatoes, with one man dying after drinking some tomato juice and an old couple watching as a giant tomato crashes through the house and eats little Jimmy. At a Department of Agriculture testing site, the police are fighting off the advance of the tomatoes when a helicopter crashes. As Jim Richardson, the President’s press secretary, finds out the details from the nearby sheriff, two other government agents discuss the team they have assembled to keep things under wraps, with a man named Mason Dixon set to lead the team. The team of generals and scientists assemble in a small meeting room, where they discuss a Japanese scientist’s new cyborg that was built to fight the tomatoes. While the Head of Intelligence takes Mason to meet the team of agents assigned to him, the rest of the group go to see a test of the cyborg, which proceeds to jump out a nearby window. Mason is introduced to his team containing Sam Smith, a master of disguise, Gretta Attenbaum, a former Olympic swimmer, Greg Colburn, an underwater expert and diver, and Lt. Finletter, who meets up with Mason later. Meanwhile, some girls are swimming in a lake when they are attacked by a group of tomatoes. As Jim Richardson is giving a press conference trying to downplay the tomato menace, a copy of the senate report makes it’s way to a local newspaper, prompting the editor to send Lois Fairchild to follow the story. As more people are being killed by tomatoes, Jim Richardson meets with the President, who sends him to an ad agency called Mind Makers, to help keep the tomato problem under wraps. As Mason interviews a witness to one of the attacks, Lois approaches him and tries to ask him some questions but he refuses to answer and leaves. Mason sends Gretta and Greg out on assignment then goes with Sam to meet Finletter, who parachutes down onto their car. Mason has Sam go and infiltrate the tomatoes while he and Finletter continue their own investigation on the cause of the attacks. They head to a nearby hotel, where Lois sees them and tries to sneak into their room but when she sees Finletter asleep on the rooms couch, she quickly leaves the room. In the morning, Mason receives a call that tomatoes are in the area that Gretta is in so he sends Finletter to warn her, but when Finletter gets there, she is already dead. As reports of tomatoes attacking other cities come in, Mason is driving around when he finds himself suddenly surrounded by giant tomatoes but they suddenly back off. Mason reports the occurrence to the scientific team, then receives a call from Finletter who says he is being followed by a spy, but it is in fact Lois, trying to get her story. As Mason heads back to the hotel, someone attempts to shoot him, but hits innocent bystanders instead. Meanwhile, Lois attempts to seduce Finletter but he ends up chasing her out of the room. Sam Smith has managed to infiltrate the tomatoes but blows his cover when he asks for ketchup. Back in the city, a masked gunman fires at Mason but when he misses, he runs from the scene, with Finletter giving chase, and manages to escape. The military is forced to make a last stand but the tomatoes break through and defeat the military. As Mason wanders the city after the battle, he notices a trail of red liquid and follows it only to find an injured tomato. As the tomato begins to chase him, Mason ends up at an apartment and inside the room of a boy, who is listening to music through his headphones. As Mason tries to escape the tomato, he ends up tripping over the headphone cord, pulling it out, and the tomato proceeds to leap from the window. Mason looks down to see if there is a body and spies the masked man tampering with his car. Mason chases after the man, dragging Finletter along behind him. As both cars begin to break down, Mason manages to catch up to the masked man but ends up getting knocked out by his own car. When Mason comes too, he finds himself facing Jim Richardson, who begins to tell him why he did this and is about to tell Mason how he can control the tomatoes, but before he can say anything, Finletter arrives and accidentally runs Richardson through with his sword. As Mason yells at Finletter, he notices a stack of records and realizes that the tomatoes ran from him when the song “Puberty Love” was playing. Assembling everyone left in the city at the local stadium, Mason lures all of the tomatoes to the stadium and proceeds to play “Puberty Love” over the loud speakers, causing the tomatoes to shrink and allowing everyone to begin squashing the rogue fruits. When Mason hears Lois crying out, he finds her being attacked by a tomato wearing giant earmuffs so Mason shows the tomato the sheet music for “Puberty Love”, killing the tomato. With the tomato menace over, Mason and Lois proclaim their love for each other while in a garden somewhere, a carrot rises up from the ground and says, “All right, you guys. They’re gone now.”
Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was not exactly liked by the critics, only scoring a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie used up a large portion of it’s budget to pay for a helicopter that was rented but accidentally crashed, though the footage that was filmed would be used in the movie. The movie was a dud at the box office, only earning over $500,000, but it would wind up becoming a cult classic. The movie was so popular in pop culture that it would spawn three sequels, a cartoon series, and several video games.
If you want to laugh, watch this movie. It is so ridiculous, both intentional and unintentional, that you can’t help but to laugh. The acting was decent but I can’t really say that anyone really stood out. The writing was a lot better than some people will think, as there were a lot of play on words and sight gags that were really funny. The story itself was more or less a tribute to the giant movies from the 50’s. The bit with the helicopter was crazy, as you can see the helicopter’s tail rotor hit the ground and you just know it is going to crash but luckily, nobody was hurt either in the crash or from debris being thrown from the wreck. One thing I thought was pretty funny was the character of Finletter, as he was wearing a parachute which he used in his first appearance but, since nobody knew how to repack the chute, he spent the rest of the movie dragging the open chute behind him, becoming his trademark look. A funny movie that you should watch at least once, especially if you need a bit of silliness in your day.
Rating: 4 out of 5