After returning from an extended vacation, Steve Johnson takes a look at Arrow Video’s release of “Return of the Killer Tomatoes.” This cult classic stars Anthony Starke, a young George Clooney and the always fabulous John Astin.
How about a quick synopsis before we dive headlong into beautiful mullets and the battle against the red menace.
THE VEGETABLES OF DOOM! The killer tomatoes are back! But this time around, they will have to contend with late ’80s George Clooney and his wicked mullet! Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Nope, it’s “Return of the Killer Tomatoes!” Ten years on from the Great Tomato War, mankind lives in fear of another uprising by the waxy red menace. Meanwhile, Professor Gangreen – played with gusto by the great John Astin from “The Addams Family” – sets out to pursue his evil ends by creating a burgeoning army of tomato militia men (who, somewhat conveniently, look just like regular men). Following the 1978 cult classic “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” is armed with a healthy sense of ridiculousness and expands upon a franchise comprised of four films, two TV series and a video game. So what are you waiting for? Make “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” one of your five-a-day now!
REVIEW: Well guys, I returned from an extended vacation and immediately waded back into the pool that is Arrow Video. Speaking of returning, this time around I am taking a look at Arrow Video’s release of “Return of the Killer Tomatoes.” The Killer Tomato series is one I’m not sure I had much experience with … let me explain. Have you ever had a movie you swear you saw but, upon watching it, have no recollection? That sums up my experience with this film. Maybe I told my friends I saw it to keep my cult/horror cred unquestioned. Maybe I’m losing my mind. I don’t know … anyway, back to the movie.
I love this movie. It’s campy. It’s fun. What else do I need to say to convince you? OK then, I’ll continue. Gomez Addams himself, John Astin, is awesome as the diabolical Professor Gangreen. The good professor figures out how to convert tomatoes into guys straight out of a Rambo movie. How can that not get your attention? Well, he also creates the perfect woman, Tara, played by the extremely sexy Karen Waldron. Once Tara meets our two heroes Chad and Matt (Anthony Starke and George Clooney) all hell breaks loose. Did I mention George Clooney’s mullet? Yeah … it’s awesome and so is his performance. That guy was meant for the stardom he achieved.
OK, I’m going to get a bit serious for a second. In some aspects, this film was well ahead of its time. Yes, you read that correctly. The inclusion of self-referential humor and a ridiculous product placement gag was a blast. Yes children of the ‘90s, “Wayne’s World” was not the first film to include blatant product placement. Writer-director John De Bello cleverly wrapped a smart film in a devilishly fun exterior. I encourage everyone reading this to check it out. Grab a beer, some popcorn and toss this one in your Blu-ray player. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
This set includes both High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the film. While the transfer isn’t one of Arrow’s best, the Blu-ray looks fantastic and is more than adequate considering the source material. The audio on the disc is presented in its original stereo format, but you do get uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray. Is the sound going to blow you away? No, but what the hell do you expect from a Killer Tomatoes film?
Arrow is one of the best at including amazing special features on their releases and this one is no different. The guys over at Arrow kicked things off in the special features department by including a reversible sleeve featuring the original artwork and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin. I love the artwork and could see myself adding a print to my collection. An illustrated collector’s booklet featuring the thoughts of film critic James Oliver is also packaged inside and worth a look.
The two highlights of the special features are a new audio commentary with writer-director John de Bello and a new interview with star Anthony Starke. Both of these are highly informative and convey how much fun everyone was having during the filming of the movie. Completing the special features are the original theatrical trailer and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Make no bones about it, Arrow’s release of “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” is the definitive release of the film. If you are a fan of this series you need to pick this up. Hell, if you like watching campy movies and have never seen this, blind buy it. You will not regret it! — Steve Johnson, Staff Writer
About The Writer
Steve Johnson, affectionately known as “The Harmony Bad Boy,” is one of the original staff writers for Icon Vs. Icon. When he’s not doing manly things, grilling encased meats, or downing copious amounts of craft beer, Steve spends his time exploring the world of horror. His obsession with the genre began by seeing ‘The Evil Dead’ and ‘An American Werewolf in London’ at an inappropriate age. Thanks mom and dad; you created this monster.