Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

“Last year, more people were killed by automobile accidents, heart attacks, lung cancer, and natural causes combined than by any one tomato.”

Justin’s Rating: Tally-Ho Zootelo! (literally: pretty darn good)

Justin’s Review: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes marked the beginning of my interest in very strange movies. I love rooting for the underdog flick, particularly when I am able to find a movie that everyone else hates with a passion normally reserved for IRS audits. Of course, I don’t get invited over to dinner parties much, but I can live. I have my Killer Tomatoes.

Mean-spirited little vegetables brought forth from a secret government project, the tomatoes seek to take over the world in this late 1970s parody of B-movies. With the world under assault by the new red menace, the only people who can stop them are a chunky man named Mason Dixon, a fanatical WWI-clad soldier named Lt. Finnletter, a disguise expert named Sam Smith, a Russian Olympic athlete named Greta, and some guy who swims underwater. And before you can say “reverse play special effects!” the battle is on.

This movie is so hokey — completely on purpose — that it’s terrific fun from start to finish. Fans of movies like The Naked Gun should find a similar spirit here with references to Jaws and The Birds, as well as the worst song you’ll ever hear in your life — named “Puberty Love.” Think of the dregs of ’70s-era folk music, then add some screeching cats and a car stripping its gears, and you might be close to the experience of listening to “Puberty Love.” Like the film itself, the song is so incredibly awful that it’s an imploding joke, ready to suck you down with it.

Which is not a bad thing, not at all.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes set such a high standard in campiness that I’m hard-pressed to think of any film that beats it. If you get into the spirit of paper maché tomatoes in reverse-motion film chasing small children through a parking lot, well, you’ve just scratched the surface of the red cake. Little unconnected scenes seem to make this flick great, such as when a guy utters the word “tomato” in a library to incite a riot or when Sam Smith (as a tomato) asks the enemy to “pass the ketchup” and realizes his lethal mistake.

Trust me: This is a must-rent, must-see, must-own, must-love, must-must film for any and all cult enthusiasts.

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