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  Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Let's Call The Whole Thing OffBuy this film here.
Year: 1978
Director: John De Bello
Stars: David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, J. Stephen Peace, Ernie Meyers, Eric Christmas, Ron Shapiro, Al Sklar, Gary Smith, Byron Teegarden
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction
Rating:  2 (from 3 votes)
Review: A housewife prepares dinner one evening in the kitchen when suddenly a large tomato emerges from the plughole of the sink and leaps for her. When the police arrive to find her dead, they think that she has blood on her, but the detective in charge discovers differently - it's really tomato juice. From all over America reports are coming in of tomatoes attacking innocent people, but the government want to keep it quiet and deliberately sit on the stories. The Press Secretary Jim Richardson (George Wilson) attends a meeting of the military top brass to decide what to do, but with more and more attacks taking place, the situation is getting quickly out of control...

This science fiction spoof was scripted by the producer/director John De Bello, Costa Dillon and producer/actor Steve Peace, and was obviously sending up all those old science fiction epics of the past with their unconvincing special effects and difficult to take seriously monsters. Working on a similar budget to those efforts, unfortunately it proves less entertaining than watching a genuine sci-fi from the fifties or sixties, and looks as if they went the same route of deciding on the title first and then hoping that the hilarious jokes would naturally follow. What actually happened resembled a bunch of loosely connected sketches with a disappointingly low level of wit.

Like its title, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes sounds inherently silly, but when it comes to making you laugh it generally fails. Most of the tiny-seeming budget has gone on buying tomatoes, and building the giant tomatoes that they supposedly grow into. A year later Airplane! would be made, a spoof with a proper sense of the ridiculous and it's a pity this movie was filmed before or they could have taken a few tips from it. It takes ages for the main characters to become apparent, and when they do they're not exactly the talented comedians that might have improved material like this, coming across as more like enthusiastic amateurs.

After a while it becomes clear that Richardson is not the main character, not the only one anyway, and special operations man Mason Dixon (David Miller) goes off on his own mission, assembling a group of undercover agents including a master of disguise (whose outfits range from Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler) and a defected Olympic athlete. Then there's Lois Fairchild (Sharon Taylor), a reporter who gets right on the case by following Dixon around in an attempt to get the scoop. If in doubt, and to liven up an increasingly tedious story, the script calls for them to run around, or drive at high speeds, but it's the flat jokes they should have thought about improving.

In the beginning, the meeting with the top generals, majors and scientists is held in a room so small they have to climb over the too-big desk to get to their seats, and the Japanese scientist is dubbed with an American accent as if in a Godzilla movie. That's the quality of the humour, but a few amusing moments do arise, such as the car chase that descends into farce when both vehicles break down and slow to a crawl so it's quicker for Dixon to get out and walk after the car he's pursuing. The ending involves a parody of Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love" saving the day, but alas not the film. In trying to make a enjoyably bad sci-fi picture, they just made it bad - it looks like a self-indulgent student film. Good theme song, though. Music by Gordon Goodwin and Paul Sundfor.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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