From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

On this countdown to Thanksgiving update I think we will do another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as I have lots of fun writing them, and it seems that you friends and readers have a good time reading them! For this one I picked a movie that’s a little less scary and went for more of a humorous Horror title as I selected Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! Yeah this musical comedy horror film has two different comic series by two different comic companies and both only lasted one issue each. So while you are planning your Thanksgiving Day meal for all your loved ones who are coming over after reading this update you might want to stay away from tomatoes as who knows they might just bite back! So arm yourself with what ever you can find and avoid rolling vegetables (or should I say fruit?) and lets dive into “From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes”.

In order to understand the madness of these tasty vegetables we first must take a look at why and what they are. Tomatoes of all sizes are the killers in this film and they range from normal sized all the way to giant bolder sized and can hunt in packs or even solo making them really able to pop up anywhere for the attack and kill. The reason for the attack and invasion of these Killer Tomatoes is unknown at first and denied to even be happing, but it is soon learned that a member of our own government is responsible and has used some weird science mumbo jumbo in order to bring them to life and cause death and panic. When attacking the Tomatoes also leave behind tomato juice that appears on their victims making them look like a bloody mess. The tomatoes show that they can move quickly by rolling and they even show signs of being very intelligent as they use cunning and skill to attack and kill their victims. The fact that they also at times hunt in large packs make them more dangerous to humans as they can easily overwhelm their target. In appearance they just look like normal tomatoes and even the larger ones while maybe shocking to see the size still just look like overgrown tomatoes. The weakness for these killer tomatoes is they can be squashed as being alive does not make them unable to die, they also are drawn into places and weakened via a song called “Puberty Love” that acts as their Pied Piper. But while they have weaknesses and even most people would laugh at a tomato trying to kill them these little red killing machines are a force to be reckoned with.

Now that we learned that these tomatoes are killing machines that range in size, I think we should now take a look at the first film in the series, the one that started it all into becoming a cult classic batch of films each more silly than the other. I want to thank IMDB for the write up of the film’s plot and hope you guys are ready to learn a little about this film.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes (1978)

“After a wave of reports of mysterious attacks involving people and pets being eaten by the traditionally docile fruit, a special government task force is set up to investigate the violent veggies and put a stop to their murderous spree. Included in this crack team are a lieutenant who never goes anywhere without his parachute, an underwater expert who’s never out of his scuba gear, and a master of disguise who conceals his appearance by dressing as a black Adolf Hitler.”

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was directed by John DeBello and was an odd mix of comedy, musical and horror and starred such names as David Miller, Costa Dillon and George Wilson all who deliver good performances for the cheesy roles they are given. The film was so silly that it became a cult classic from the start as people found the idea of killer tomatoes so silly and funny that it found itself being a moneymaker at the theater bringing in a total of $567,000.00 on a $100,000.00 budget! The year, it hit theaters many other amazing Horror Films hit theaters and drive-ins world wide like Halloween, Dawn Of The Dead, Jaws 2, I Spit On Your Grave, Class Reunion Massacre, Mardi Gras Massacre and Inquisition to name a few making 1978 a great year for Horror Cinema and delivered many scares for fans! Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was one of those films that I heard of from a young age as the title was silly and was something that was the butt of many jokes as the films title left it open for lots of punch lines when coming to friends who didn’t like the more bloody and gore filled horror. So while it was not a box office mega hit and was panned by critics, it still is a cult favorite film that has warmed its way into the hearts of b-movie fans and horror fans the worldwide.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes built such a cult following that it spawned three sequels that each amped up the cheesy horror comedy action! The second film in the series was “Return Of The Killer Tomatoes” that was released in 1988 and is known for being an early role for George Clooney and was released by New World Pictures who use to own Marvel Comics! The third movie in the series called “Killer Tomatoes Strike Back” was released in 1990 and has the Killer Tomatoes back and wanting to claim more human victims. The forth and final movie is the series was released in 1991 and was called “Killer Tomatoes Eat France!” and, you guessed it, has them in France! All the sequels were direct to video and none of them captured the cult status of the original and for the most part were also lost in the shuffle at the local video store as many chains placed them in the comedy section with others putting them in horror. I mostly remember the sequels thanks to “USA Up All Night” as they were the perfect films to be hosted, and can remember enjoying them.  But I never was a huge fan of the movies – for me was more for the cartoon…we will get into that later. So while Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is not as iconic as other Horror film series like Halloween, Friday The 13th or The Conjuring, it did make a tiny mark on the genre as proven by having sequels made in order to continue the story for fans.

In 1990, Marvel Productions and Fox Children’s Production made a very cool cartoon called Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes based on the film series! The series takes place five years after the Great Tomato War and follows Chad Finletter who is a 10-year-old pizza delivery boy who along with his friends tries to stop the evil doings of Dr. Gangreen and his band of raging tomatoes who are bent on ruling the world. This show aired on Saturday mornings and ran for two seasons and a total of 21 episodes that were 23 minutes each.  This was a cartoon I watched and enjoyed every week and even bought the toys based on this toon. The odd thing about this cartoon is that follows after the events of the film Return Of The Killer Tomatoes and holds a more comedic fun loving aspect and plays down the horror elements so as to not to scare younger viewers, but to be honest how could anyone be scared of Killer Tomatoes? I do enjoy the fact this cartoon gives the tomatoes different personalities and looks like a snake, bull and other gross and monstrous big tomatoes who act as the major threats to our heroes. This cartoon was very popular and many of my classmates watched it.  We would chat about it on the playground, and the main reason it was cancelled is the fact in season two they botched the storyline and went with a very weird computer generated style of animation that just did not fit the mood and feel of the series, but a fun fact is that this is credited as one of the first cartoons to use computer animation! I don’t want to spend too much time on the cartoon version of Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes but will say that this should have been turned into a Star Comic or even a Marvel Comic as the company was involved in the production.

So besides the movies, cartoon and comics, other merchandise has been made about the Killer Tomatoes that includes t-shirts, posters, soundtrack, coloring books, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes, magazines, buttons, video games for the Nintendo & Gameboy as well as action figures and a ton of home media releases on Beta, VHS, DVD, Laserdisc and Blu-Ray. So as you can see, if you are a fan of this film and its spinoffs and sequels, there is some cool stuff in the world for you to collect. Over the years I have owned the toys, and as I have said, many of the films on VHS and DVD, and while not on my must watch list, I do find myself dusting them off from time to time to enjoy.

So as you can see, in the late 80’s and 90’s Killer Tomatoes made a push to become a major franchise in Horror and Comedy and for the most part did become a household name for a short amount of time. I think what is cool about this film series is the fact they went that extra mile and tried to make it a hit with cartoons, video games and comics and aimed it toward a younger crowd knowing that they would eat up the cheesy premise and over the top characters. Another thing I should mention is that for me one of the coolest things about this film series is that John Astin played the evil Professor Mortimer Gangreen, and as always, he steals the show as he is one of my all time favorite character actors. And on a side note, I would love to see the Killer Tomatoes make a comeback and get a new movie sequel as well as maybe a comic that would last more than one issue!

So now that we have taken a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes and its impact on pop culture and just how mean and nasty these tomatoes are, I think we should dive into the comic review. When selecting between the Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc. or the Viper comic to cover, it was a tough one but in the end I decided to go with the first as it was the earliest and I feel should get the honor of representing the Killer Tomatoes on this Thanksgiving Countdown and newest installment to the From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic series of updates. I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and when picking up this can of tomato juice, I was shocked to see this written on the can “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” I must say that’s a strange thing to say on a food can, but with that, put your fears of tomatoes aside and let’s take a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes…The Comic!

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes # 1  *1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $2.50     Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc.   # 1 of 1

At Chadwick University, a seminar is taking place by Dr. Infecto all about food genetic engineering done by Technedible Labs and how it’s a good thing and that people should not believe the lies of Killer Tomatoes! After it’s over, two students Todd Smart and Dave Valiant go to see Dr. Infecto who is in his office and just got off the phone with Dr. Gangrene who is working on experiments involving humans and tomatoes. As the two students come in, they are attacked by Killer Tomatoes that leaves Todd Smart dead and Dave Valiant running for his life and Dr. Infecto clearly in the back pocket of Dr. Gangrene! After the attack, Dave gives an interview about what he witnessed, and the media seems to not take this young man’s claim series. But this broadcast get the attention of Great Tomato War veteran Wilber Finletter who tracks down the young man and gears him up for the battle that is surly coming.

Oh lord, this 12 page comic is a mess. While cool as it’s a part of Horror Comic history, it also suffers from a terribly bland story and bad amateurish art! The plot is this simple: a college professor is working with Dr. Gangrene in order to make human/tomato hybrids and when a student is attacked and survives, this new plot gets news coverage and brings out our series hero Wilber Finletter …and that’s our plot. Our hero of this issue is Dave Valiant, a young college student who watches his friend be attacked by a batch of Killer Tomatoes that was unleashed by their very own teacher! Dave really doesn’t do much in order to battle the Killer Tomatoes…he does talk about it on TV. I guess our second hero would be the parachute wearing Wilber Finletter who has battled in two Great Tomato Wars and at least gears up and talks to Dave about what is coming. The Killer Tomatoes don’t do much in this issue as they “attack” a tied up man as well as a college student…they don’t do much. Dr. Infecto and Dr. Gangrene don’t do much as well as they are just kind of around and free the tomatoes when they are needed. One of the major issues that plagues this comic is that none of the heroes feel like heroes nor do we as the reader ever really bond with them. And on the other side, none of our bad guys seem all that bad as we don’t really get to see them in action, and it’s clear as day to me that this 12 page comic would have been better to have been 22 pages. This comic has zero scares, zero blood and very little entertainment value and is one of the weakest Horror Movie To Horror Comic issues I have read! The cover is cheesy as showcases a large chested woman hugging a tomato, and the interior art is done by Hasani McIntosh and is very amateurish and not the style of art I like, but I should say fans of independent underground comics I am sure would dig his style. Over all this comic is kind of a letdown, and while fun to read and review for this update, I must say that this is for diehard Killer Tomato fans only. Check out the art below to see the style of McIntosh and you make your own opinion on if you dig it.

While this 12 page comic was a letdown and should have had more substance or at least an issue 2 in order to deliver any kind of major entertainment, I still find myself happy that at least this comic was made no matter how many flaws it had against it as it delivered a comic to fans of the Killer Tomatoes. But as we inch our way closer to Thanksgiving, we will leave the world of horror movie inspired comics behind and go to Greece once more as we continue our tradition of looking at Hercules in the world of comics.  This time around we will be talking about the second series of Marvel Comics’ Hercules! So that should be lots of fun as I always get a kick of talking about Hercules, plus as a special announcement you will get the first info on a upcoming Sparkle Comics series that will make sword and sandal fans happy! So until our next update aka Thanksgiving Day 2017, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time my readers and friends, make sure to enjoy the upcoming Holiday season.

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