Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988) Review
“It’ll leave a bad paste in your mouth.”
Synopsis: Crazy old Professor Gangreen has developed a way to make tomatoes look human for a second invasion.
Watch now on Amazon
Return of the Killer Tomatoes! doubles down on the sheer ridiculousness of the first movie. Though it may seem impossible, this flick is even sillier than the last: it takes the basic premise of the killer tomatoes and makes the bizarre addition of killer tomatoes in human form.
Return picks up about twenty years after the events of the first movie. America is now a tomato-less country; the veggie is contraband, pizza has taken some interesting turns, and it’s been long enough that the youth of the country are blasé about the fear their parents faced. Into this landscape comes Professor Gangreen (John Astin), a mad scientist hell-bent on hiding his killer tomatoes in plain sight for reasons that are murky at best. Through the use of some convoluted machinery – and, more bizarrely, various pieces of music – Professor Gangreen is able to make an obedient and deadly staff out of tomato-humans. His pièce de résistance is a tomato lab assistant/sex slave named Tara (Karen M. Waldron), which is disturbing on several levels. (Side note: is there a word like bestiality, but for flora?) Their hapless pizza delivery boy Chad (Anthony Starke) is also smitten with the beautiful Tara.
All that is weird enough, but when Tara runs away, she ends up running to Chad (as the only other person she knows). Once safely ensconced in his apartment, she struggles to keep her tomato identity a secret from him and his roommate Matt (George Clooney), all while Professor Gangreen and his tomato soldiers close in.
Return is both less and more campy than the original. It has a lot more going on, and some better actors, which goes a long way to perking up the original movie, which suffered from poor pacing and painful jokes. Though there are plenty of nods to the first flick, including the crew of “heroes” who originally defended small town America from its red menace, Return is very much its own movie – and that’s good. This feels more promising as the start of a bizarre and campy franchise than the first movie did, and with John Astin in the lead, the series becomes a lot more interesting.
While Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! is mostly fun as a cinematic footnote, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! stands on its own in a schlocky, so-bad-it’s-good, made for TV kind of way. It’s a fun watch if you’re into trashy movies… and even if you’re not, the sheer what-the-fuckery still might make this flick worth it.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
Watch now on Amazon