Once in a while, there is a classic comedy, a comedy so funny and so legendary that it sets the standard for every other comedy that comes after it. The 1988 sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, is not that movie. It is the ridiculously fun follow-up to sheerly absurd 1978 cult film, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, which was a spoof of horror-monster movies directed in the style of the Zuckers Brothers’ films that redefined parody. While that movie did receive its fair share of love from a certain demographic, Return is actually the better film (yes I said better), because of its clever writing and self-mocking humor, while not taking itself too seriously.
In this time around, everyone is still recovering from the events of the last film, thanks to the overall ban of tomatoes by the government. We meet Chad, the nephew of the hero from the last film, Wilbur Finletter, who owns the pizza shop where he works, which specializes in tomato-less pizzas. He takes orders for the mysterious Professor Gangreen and his lovely assistant/creation Tara, which whom Chad has loved since the day he first saw her. She escapes Gangreen, and she and Chad inevitably strike a relationship, where he soon discovers that she is in fact a tomato. In the meantime, Gangreen and his imbecilic blonde of a sidekick Igor create a group of musclebound men from tomatoes for reasons unknown in order to take over the world.
Okay, let’s get in out in the open, the plot is just really, really absurd, but that’s not the most important aspect of this unusually watchable mix of horror, comedy, and parody. What’s more important is how the cast truly commits to every fiber of their characters, especially veteran John Astin, who chews the scenery like no one’s business. Anthony Starke, who plays Chad, does overplay his part a little too much, but he does some nice work. Karen Mistal as Tara, also does her fair share of great work being the beautiful female lead, while adding her own perfect timing of self-humor. But I think the film is best known for being one of the first films to star a then unknown George Clooney, along with his perfect ’80s mullet, steal every scene he’s in. He is mostly the straight man, even though he gets some of the funniest moments in the film, especially the moment where he tries to showcase product placement into the film to build momentum. It makes the film even more smarter than it really should be.
To be honest with you, I tried to hate his film so much because it is obviously a product of its time. However, I ended up loving it because it is really funny and winks at the audience. It knows what kind of movie it is, and it doesn’t try too hard. This is where it succeeds quite well, and its much better than most comedies today that rely on cliched raunchy and tasteless jokes that fail instantly.
Although this is Arrow title, and they are known for their stellar and packed releases, I felt disappointed by the rather limited special features. However, they are just enough for mostly fans of this film and the entire series. There is the audio commentary with director John De Bello, which is pretty simple but he does do a great job in talking about everything including the movie’s production and its unusual history. There is a brief interview with star Anthony Starke, who played Chad, entitled Hangin’ with Chad; a still gallery with exclusive behind-the-scenes images; the trailer and tv spot; and a booklet with a new essay by James Oliver with original artwork by Matthew Griffin.
This is comedy at most silliest, but it is quite smart and very entertaining, while being self-aware and mocking. I’m going to go even further and say that they certainly don’t make them like this anymore.