Special Collector's Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, Rock Peace, Jack Riley, Von Schauer
Director:  John DeBello
Audio:  Dolby 2 Channel Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Rhino Home Video
Features:  See Review
Length:  83 Minutes
Release Date:  September 23, 2003

"Will someone please pass the ketchup?"

Film *1/2

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is on DVD as a special collector's edition.  It was bound to happen sooner or later.

This is the A title of B movies, earning fame and popularity as the self proclaimed "worst movie ever made".  I don't know if pointing out that it's actually not the worst of the worst would be helpful or hurtful.  It's not bad enough to be good.  It's barely bad enough to be bad.

Before Airplane and Kentucky Fried Movie, director and co-writer John DeBello, along with some college friends, envisioned a spoof of horror films in which our favorite red fruit (vegetable?) came to life and wreaked havoc upon humanity.  That 8 mm college film eventually blossomed into the full fledged theatrical offering with the same title, although it's debatable whether production values actually increased that much.

The title, which came first, is hysterical.  The movie is considerably less so.  83 minutes isn't a long time, but it's far too long to keep a single joke buoyant.  Tomatoes get big and kill people...how many different ways can you say it?

The bits range from amusing to flat, but nothing is fall-down funny.  Some of the better moments include the title song (reminiscent of what Burt Bacharach wrote for The Blob), the master of disguise who infiltrates the tomatoes' camp but blows his cover in the worst possible way, and the adman called upon to put a positive spin on the tomato situation for the president.

The lesser moments mostly involve running gags that wear out their welcome quickly, including a special operative who drags his parachute behind him throughout the entire movie, and the ridiculously inept song "Puberty Love" that gets played OVER and OVER...it plays a key part in the film's finale, but by that point, I was kind of hoping the tomatoes would win.

Bad movies can be fun, but unfunny comedies just disappoint.  The one bright idea isn't enough to power a full length film, no matter how well paste...er, paced.  People will always flock to this one because of its reputation for ineptness and for the title, which has become a part of American culture.  But this is really just a hearty helping of hype while surprisingly shallow in substance.

Video **

I don't know why a widescreen transfer was forewent here, but the framing always seemed a bit off to my eyes.  The overall quality is fair, with some good coloring marred by occasional faded looking images (owing to the age, no doubt)...not a lot of scratches or spots, though.  A decent effort.

Audio **

The original mono soundtrack reflects the film's low budget a little more; you can frequently tell when lines were dubbed in afterwards, or worse, when they SHOULD have been.  The music sounds fine, but there's not a lot of dynamic range.  Background noise is minimal.

Features ****

This special edition is quite loaded, starting with an amusingly animated main menu screen.  A commentary with John DeBello, Steve "Rock" Peace (writer and co-star) and Costa Dillon (creator) is a fun listen...you've got to admire guys who are proud of making one of the worst pictures ever!

There are three deleted scenes and six featurettes, including a retrospective, a look at the helicopter crash sequence (an actual accident), the critical response, a look at the fans and more.  There are two of the filmmakers original student films, including the one that eventually became this move.  Both feature commentaries.  There is also a trailer, radio spots, a trivia game (sadly not interactive), and more.  As they say, atsa lotsa mozzarella!


For all the devotees, Rhino's new special edition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes will be just what the chef ordered.  But the mildly curious should be forewarned:  this one isn't quite worthy of the reputation it's garnered over the years.