Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (Special Edition Blu-ray)

| January 24, 2018

The Los Angeles Times called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes “hopelessly inane” upon its release in 1978. Perhaps a scathing review for any other movie, the film’s producing team took this as a compliment. Now, I don’t know that director/co-writer/producer John DeBello and his collaborators set out to make a bad movie—though it’s certainly been called one by many—but they clearly worked hard to make an inane one and in that clearly succeeded. Such a masterclass in inanity is it that Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has now been remastered in HD and released on Blu-ray/DVD as the second title in MVD Rewind Collection’s release slate behind D.O.A.: A Right of Passage (1981). It’s at once a vindication of DeBello and crew’s efforts and a clear demonstration of the Rewind Collection’s sincere dedication to cult cinema from the get-go.

Killer Tomatoes is hardly what you would call a traditional movie with, you know, a story and character arcs and some kind of point. It’s a throw-everything-at-the-audience-and-hopefully-something-sticks kind of comedy that employs virtually every kind of gag imaginable—a messy, low-budget spoof in the spirit of Airplane! (1980), only before Airplane! existed. Killer Tomatoes is a disjointed assemblage of odd, often befuddling moments of weirdness and stupidity that only just barely passes for a film, and I love it all the more for it. Thanks to its sheer insistence on remaining a purposefully meandering mess, I’ve always found it charming and entertaining in its audacity. And as such, I’ve felt compelled to rewatch it time and again over the years.

Of course, I haven’t been alone in my fascination with Killer Tomatoes over the years. As I wrote in my review of Arrow Video’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) Blu-ray, the film spawned three sequels and even an animated television series with its own video game adaptations and merchandise. As a result of Return and the animated series in particular, the Killer Tomatoes brand became an important part of my childhood that I’ve now proudly made part of my son’s (you can hear us discuss the first two films on Episode 3 of our monster movie podcast CadaverCast, in fact).

The only problem for those of us with the occasional hankering to watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in recent years has been that the DVD went out of print some time back and would sometimes fetch upward of $30. The prices got out-of-hand! I know. I bid on a number of copies on eBay to no avail.

Thankfully, the MVD Rewind Collection stepped in and ensured that we’d no longer have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on long-outdated DVDs in depressing standard definition. They took the bulk of the special features from the previous special features-packed DVD and packaged those on a disc with a surprisingly clean and crisp 4k HD remaster of the film. The transfer is characterized by a clarity and color vibrancy that beautifully (or horrifyingly) accentuates the garish fashions and décor of the 1970’s featured throughout the film. There’s some speckling and occasional minor damage to the film elements, sure, but fans of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes have never seen it look this good. It’s a beauty!

In addition to the MVD 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition shipping with an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes poster, the first printing also includes a retro “video store style” slipsleeve. Special features on the disc include:

  • Audio commentary from writer/director John DeBello, writer/co-star Steve Peace and “creator” Costa Dillon
  • The original Super-8 short film, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” with optional audio commentary (SD)
  • “Gone with the Babusuland,” a truncated version of DeBello’s first Super-8 film (with audio commentary) (SD)
  • Deleted scenes (SD)
  • “Legacy of a Legend” featurette (14:13, SD), collecting interviews with John DeBello, Costa Dillon, film critic Kevin Thomas, Bruce Vilanch, future Tomatoes mainstay John Astin and actors Steve Peace, Jack Riley, and D.J. Sullivan
  • “Crash and Burn”  featurette (3:40, SD) about the on-set AND on screen helicopter crash
  • “Famous Foul” featurette (2:21, SD) about the San Diego Chicken’s role in the climatic tomato stomping
  • “Killer Tomatomania” featurette (4:33, SD) is a smattering of interviews with random people on the streets of Hollywood about the movie
  • “Where Are They Now?” featurette (2:51, SD) is a tongue-in-cheek look at what the cast and crew have been up to since Killer Tomatoes
  • “We Told You So!” featurette (3:07, SD) takes a hard-hitting look at the conspiracy of silence surrounding the real-life horror of killer tomatoes
  • Original theatrical trailer (SD)
  • Radio spots

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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