Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988) (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: John De Bello
Starring: Anthony Starke, George Clooney, Karen M. Waldron
Rated: PG/Region AB/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Arrow Video
The killer tomatoes are back! But this time around, they’re going to 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 legendary John Astin from TV s The Addams Family sets out to pursue his own evil ends by creating a burgeoning army of tomato militia men (who, somewhat conveniently, look just like regular men). Following on from the 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Return of the Killer Tomatoes came armed with a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness and would expand upon a franchise that now comprises 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!
Return of the Killer Tomatoes is perhaps the most Troma-like none-Troma movie I’ve ever seen. Sadly, I had never even seen the original movie and had missed out on the old Image release of this on DVD, but none the less here it is from Arrow in a 2k HD scan. While not starring George Clooney, it does have him playing the woman chasing comedic best friend to our main lead. Also, instead of giant tomatoes rolling around we have a mad scientist using music to change tomatoes into his own Rambo-ish army. The town is also tomato free since the last movie so you can imagine in a third wall breaking movie like this what the idea of just a tomato in town can cause the locals to do. One of these tomatoes just so happen to be played by the lovely Karen M. Waldron. She’s the romantic interest to our leading man and saving her from being basically turned into ketchup becomes our main plot in a movie that does seem to go a bit all over the place at times. Then again, when you catch the tone of this one you’d probably be shocked it manages to stay on track as much as it does. Some jokes work, some jokes don’t, but I gotta admit the part of the movie somewhere near the middle when the thing comes to a hold for the actors, director, and crew to try to figure out how to get money to finish the rest of the film drew a laugh out of me. The goofy product placement after will also draw some chuckles out of people watching as well.
I can’t sit here and tell you that I loved all that Return of the Killer Tomatoes had to offer but it does have its moments. I do think it is a movie you might have to just be in the mood for in order to truly enjoy it. Sometimes we have a long string of lame jokes that miss the mark in between good ones, which can bring the thing down a bit. Even in something like this you can see how good of an actor George Clooney was going to be. He hams this up with the rest of the cast and while I don’t know if he’d be jumping at the chance to tell people he was in this now, he at least seems to be having fun on-screen. I also really liked the odd tomato person performance from Karen M. Waldron. Other than that I feel the movie is a bit too self-aware at times and it does hurt the story’s progress, even if the story isn’t something meant to be serious anyway. Some people seem to really love this one and I’m not too sure I get why they LOVE it. I don’t hate it by any means but I think I might need to try again when I’m in a more goofy mood for it. Outside of the that the transfer is fine. It is a transfer with a lot of grain in it from time to time but I’d bet my TV it at least blows that old DVD out of the water. Like I said before if you love Troma movies you might really dig this but this isn’t an R-rated film, so it lacks some of the other charms something like that might have to offer up.
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original Stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello
– Brand new interview with star Anthony Starke
– Original Theatrical Trailer
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
– Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver
Quality of Transfer: 85%