Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine
I remember seeing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes when I was a kid and when it was relatively new. I didn’t see it in the theater. I remember distinctly seeing this at my friend Pat’s house. We didn’t pay a great deal of attention to it—it was more or less on in the background. I remember a couple of specific points in the film, but I remembered virtually nothing about the plot. Well…what passes for a plot, anyway.
Look, I’m not going to do the usual plot rundown here, because there isn’t one. Deciding to essentially one-up the ridiculousness of the enemy of a film like Squirm or Night of the Lepus, we’re led to believe that the world is being attacked by rampaging hordes of gigantic tomatoes that eat people. Yes, tomatoes. The title of the movie is not joke, or at least not any more of a joke than the story.
Clearly, this is a parody of monster/creature feature movies, much as Airplane! from a couple of years after this was a parody of disaster movies. The difference is that Airplane! is ridiculously funny. There are a million jokes in that movie, so that if one misses, the next one is bound to land. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes doesn’t have that problem. The vast majority of the jokes in this don’t land at all. Those that aren’t stupid are cruel or embarrassing. The characters aren’t funny, the situations aren’t funny, the lines aren’t funny. Nothing about this works.
Oh, I know there are people who like this movie and will defend it for being nothing more than really dumb humor. I don’t have a problem with dumb humor. I love movies like Pootie Tang and Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. Those movies are stupid as all hell, but there’s a brain behind the humor. It’s low-brow stuff, but you never get the impression that the people making those movies were dumb. That’s not the case with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. With the exception of one or two jokes (the advertising agency getting Jesus Christ to endorse a product is pretty funny), there is no sense that anyone connected with this movie could solve a basic sudoku or even has a rudimentary sense of humor. Even the slapstick isn’t funny.
So, ultimately, the entire point of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is to make fun of monster movies. It’s supposed to be a joke. It’s supposed to be funny. But it’s not funny, not even a little. Night of the Lepus was a lot funnier than this, but it didn’t intend to be, which at least makes it entertaining in spite of itself. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has nothing to offer in terms of entertainment. It’s not so bad it’s good; it’s just bad.
Parodies need to make sense on a certain level. They need to hold together even if they are comedic. There needs to be a sense of verisimilitude to them that connects all of the parts together. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes fails in that regard. Sometimes the tomatoes are big; sometimes they’re small. There are three musical numbers that take place in the film for no reason—not the song that is part of the plot, but songs sung by the characters. It just throws what it can at the wall without any rhyme or reason. In that respect, it’s sort of a precursor for the _______ Movie abominations of Seltzer and Friedberg.
Is there anything of value to come from this movie? It did spawn a sequel that contains one of the first big-screen appearances of George Clooney. The sequel also features John Astin. There was also a video game based loosely on the concept called Revenge of the Beefsteak Tomatoes made for the Atari 2600. Other than that, this was pretty much a waste of my time. And, as a fun piece of trivia, the song “Puberty Love” that features frequently in the film was performed by Matt Cameron, who was later the drummer for Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
I think I thought this was funny when I was 12. If you needed more evidence that 12-year-olds are fucking stupid, I’ve got nothing more for you.
Why to watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: You’ve had a lobotomy
Why not to watch: It’s stupid and 98% of the jokes don’t land.