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Making Catsup

The frustration with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes doesn’t concern its quality. Everyone involved knew what they were creating. It’s cheap, childish, foolish, and erratic. That shows on screen.

What Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is parodying – hokey ‘50s sci-fi – disintegrates its potential. There’s opportunity to mock the literal “red” scare through toothy veggies, but the lampooning shifts around as to never catch on any one thing. An incompetent congress and pitiful military response almost add value. Soon, it’s over-the-top, incensing idiocy, missing the goal line and exiting the stadium entirely.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes lowballs itself, churning out hopeless humor

Although they lack visible teeth, the mutant tomatoes have more bite than the film. It’s inexcusable. Even with the shoddy production values, the sense of humor is ripe (pun intended) for social parody. Instead, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes lowballs itself, churning out hopeless humor. This, two years before Airplane mastered it all.

Given that a decade later Attack of the Killer Tomatoes spun off into a cultural franchise (following the improved sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes), there’s something here. And certainly, it’s the name. Absurdist, ludicrous, and catchy; that’s made more so through the theme song. Near everyone knows Killer Tomatoes, with or without the film attached.

It’s arguably for the better if the movie isn’t connected. With the lens pointed toward ‘70s era sexism, jarringly raw racial gags, and humor even a child would see through, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes looks desperate for attention. The few times writing successfully lands a zinger, it appears accidental, or even from another production.

To be clear, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes isn’t about the tomatoes. They’re ancillary. Instead, a roster of characters fumble about performing disconnected sketch comedy bits, most with the loosest of connections to the core “plot.” In a movie about carnivorous vegetables (the irony lost everywhere but the title), expectations remain low. It’s the whiff of potential and rampant carelessness that irritate for the entire 80-minute slog.


Despite everything else, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes looks stupendous, sourced from a new 4K scan. Shot on a high-quality Kodak stock, the level of definition and clarity evident in this transfer doesn’t look like the ‘70s – sideburns aside. Expert compression resolves pinpoint grain, with minor exceptions in areas of fog/smoke. A handful of specks and scratches on this print barely leave a mark.

Outstanding brightness delivers an unexpected level of contrast. Image depth stays consistent, and although black levels slip into a muddy brown once night falls, there’s enough opposing contrast to maintain image density.

Also noteworthy is color, hyper saturated and perfectly matching the cartoon aesthetic. Candy-like reds and bright greens often fill the frame, at times pushing aggressively to the point of bleeding, if still gorgeous. Flesh tones look organic.


MVD’s PCM mono mix doesn’t offer much. Limited by a source frequently shifting between live audio and post-production recording, quality misfires regularly. Muffled dialog, especially in the cramped meeting rooms (arguably the best gag in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes), makes each line difficult to hear. No available subtitles only adds to the irritation.

With minimal range, the only success comes from the song routines. Those feature better dynamics and clean lyrics. Given the era, the passage of time, and budget, none of this is entirely unexpected, but given video quality, there’s some hope for the audio.


Everything carries over from a deluxe DVD set, including a commentary from director John DeBello, writer/co-star Steve Peace, and Costa Dillon, the latter considered the creator of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. They definitely have fun with their work.

Legacy of a Legend is the first featurette and the longest at 14-minutes. Self-mocking in tone, this runs through the typical sticking points of a production, from the idea to casting to shooting. Additional mockery plays out in Where Are They Now. Crash and Burn details the real helicopter crash featured in the movie, along with vintage news clips. A painfully corny “interview” with the Famous Chicken goes nowhere fast, and pairs with a very ‘90s collection of Hollywood street interviews about the movie.

Two Super-8 prequels detailing the origin of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes have a few laughs, and one of them comes with a commentary. Six minutes of deleted scenes make one thankful these didn’t end up in the finished film. A fun look at the role of the “slate girl” runs under two minutes, followed by a sing-a-long and a slew of ad materials.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Aimless satire and crummy parody fill the dire Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a pop culture anomaly that subsisted on its name only.

User Review
3 (1 vote)

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