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Case Number 07629: Small Claims Court

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Killer Tomatoes Strike Back

Fox // 1990 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 23rd, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle wishes to remind you that this second sequel to the 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! is a fruit, not a vegetable.

The Charge

Any way you slice it, the killer tomatoes are back!

The Case

It's the return of the evil Dr. Gangreen (John Astin, The Frighteners) who, if I remember correctly, attempted to take over the world in Return of the Killer Tomatoes. With the help of his oafish henchman, Igor (Steve Lundquist, Killer Tomatoes Eat France), and a gaggle of treacherous and deadly tomatoes (hence the title of the film), Dr. Gangreen's plan for world domination is to use a sleazy daytime talk show to transmit his evil message across the planet, or something like that. Apparently, the only ones who can stop him are child-like police detective Lance Boyle (Rick Rockwell, Return of the Killer Tomatoes), and a shapely tomato scientist (Crystal Carson, Who's That Girl?). Will our heroes foil Dr. Gangreen's murderous plans, or are we all doomed to become slaves to walking, talking pizza sauce?

I'm getting old, and I know it because I used to like this kind of crap. Somewhere along the way I apparently decided that my tastes just weren't going to dip this low again. I don't want to give the creators of Killer Tomatoes Strike Back a verbal smackdown—if I were a 12-year-old kid I'd think this movie was a hoot (which is why I still have a nostalgia-fueled fondness for the far better and funnier Return of the Killer Tomatoes). As a nearly 30-year-old man, though, my patience has dwindled for this killer veggie saga.

Here, in a nutshell, is the main problem with Killer Tomatoes Strike Back: the filmmakers never go balls-to-the-wall with their comedy. It's painfully obvious that the film wants to be a Naked Gun-style spoof of sorts, but creator/director John De Bello (who is most likely the most entertaining guest at the party) never fills the screen with enough gags to warrant a recommendation. Some of the jokes are mildly funny, but mildly funny just doesn't cut it when you have to spend nearly an hour and a half of your time watching produce attack forgettable actors (including lead Rick "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?" Rockwell).

On par with the series, the special effects are a complete joke (though I think that's the point). The filmmakers don't seem to realize that the novelty of killer tomatoes lasts about as along as a Saturday Night Live skit, and this series has gone on for four—yes, if you can believe it, four—installments, and that's nearly four too many.

The only saving grace of the film is actor John Astin (Gomez in the original Addams Family TV series) as Professor Mortimer Gangreen, the film's requisite villain who likes to laugh maniacally in the camera, aided by Steve Lundquist as his dimwitted yet likable sidekick, Igor (who has aspirations to become one of the world's leading TV news reporters). Yet even Astin's shtick gets old after a while, dragged down by an unfunny screenplay, and enough tomato puns to sink a produce cart.

I don't think the end of civilization as we know it is coming with the arrival of movies like Killer Tomatoes Strike Back. Hell, in a world where hurricanes are ripping away our country, corruption is rampant in Congress, and terrorists threaten our freedom and safety, we need silly movies like this to take our minds off of life's woes. But can't the filmmakers at least make a better attempt at juvenile humor than this? Only Killer Tomatoes Eat France knows for sure (but don't get your hopes up).

Killer Tomatoes Strike Back is presented in what I presume is its original aspect ratio, 1.33:1 full frame. It would be dishonest of me to sing this film's praises, transfer-wise—the fact is, this movie looks like a cheapie made-for-TV flick. There are defects in the picture, as well as bleeding colors and only so-so black levels. While this isn't a terrible transfer, it's certainly nothing to write home about.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English and Spanish. Much like the video portions, the audio for Killer Tomatoes Strike Back is pretty rotten. Okay, it's not that bad, but it isn't that good, either. The music, effects and dialogue are all discernible, but little else—this is a front heavy audio mix without much pizzazz.

Extra features are slim; all fans get are some trailers for other Fox horror films.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 56

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• None
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Comedy
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Trailers


• IMDb
• Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

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