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.

Motorcycle Riding Rodents From The Red Planet

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! If you grew up in the early 1990’s then I am sure you knew just how tight of a grip Teenage Mutant Ninja had on the youth, but then you also know how many knock offs flooded the toy and cartoon market the years that followed.  Who could forget Street Sharks, The Toxic Crusaders, Cowboys Of Moo Mesa, Creepy Crawlers, Extreme Dinosaurs, SWAT Kats and of course The Biker Mice From Mars! While all these had their own charm, they still were very much inspired by the Turtles’ popularity, and the one we will be focusing on today is Biker Mice From Mars. Growing up through the 80’s and 90’s I was around for the huge boom of popularity of the Turtles, and Biker Mice From Mars was the butt of many jokes between me and my friends who just laughed about the silly name and the idea of alien mice on bikes saving the day. I can remember that you were made fun of if you said you watched the cartoon, and no one I knew admitted that they had any of the toys as they were afraid of being mocked. While I never owned any of the toys, I did watch the cartoon and thought how wonderfully cheesy it was.  At the time I was the proud owner of pet mice so of course I was going to check out a cartoon about ones that rode motorcycles! So you could say I was living a double life as at home I watched the cartoon but at school I made fun of it as if it was garbage left in the bottom of a Burger King trash can. So I admit it now; at a young age I watched Biker Mice From Mars.  Now at age 35, I am going to do an update about them here at Rotten Ink so let’s jump on our bikes and have some adventure, shall we?

The Biker Mice From Mars

In 1993, Biker Mice From Mars was released by Saban Entertainment to the syndicated cartoon market and had many companies behind its creation that include Galoob Toys, Marvel Productions and Worldwide Sports & Entertainment. The series followed three anthropomorphic mice that came to Earth from Mars after their planet was stricken by a harsh war and their race was wiped out.  They are Throttle, Modo and Vinnie, and they love to ride motorcycles.  They crash land in Chicago where they meet garage owner and mechanic Charlene “Charley” Davidson. Each of the mice have serve injuries that they got on their home planet and each have a different personality and color of fur. Throttle has tan fur and is the leader.  He is noble and driven to save Earth as well as his fellow mice men.  His injury is his eyesight that was damaged in an accident. Vinnie has white fur and is a smooth talker.  He has a crush on Charlene and had one side of his face burned off in the accident and must wear a metal mask to hide and protect it. Modo has grey fur and is the team’s powerhouse and lost one of his arms that is replaced with a metal one. Their friend and ally is Charley Davidson, the owner and mechanic for a small garage in Chicago called Last Chance Garage.  She is tough as nails and pretty to boot. But things are not all well as they find that the owner of one of Chi-Towns biggest industries is a Plutarkian named Lawrence Limburger, the same fish-headed smelly race that ruined their planet and worse, he has allies with him like dumb as a box of rocks henchman Grease Pit, evil scientist Dr. Benjamin Boris Zachary Karbunkle and weirdo Fred The Mutant to name a few. Now on Earth, the Biker Mice must try and stop Limburger from trashing their new home. The series lasted for 3 seasons and a total of 65 episodes. In 2006, The Biker Mice From Mars made a small comeback and had new episodes made for one season with a total of 28 episodes. So one thing’s for sure, while they might have been the butt of jokes at school, they still had an impact on the world of cartoons.

Biker Mice 1Biker Mice 2 logoBiker Mice 3

In 1993 to go along with the cartoon Galoob started to make action figures to push Biker Mice From Mars toward becoming a name in children’s entertainment.  The figures stood a little taller then Ninja Turtles and came with all types of weapons as well as vehicles and playsets that could be bought separately. All the main characters were made into the toy line that lasted till 1994, but before the toys were canceled, many different variations of the biker mice themselves were made and released. Besides the action figures there were also bendable figures, 12” figures as well as Micro Machine versions of the bikes. Growing up, I didn’t know any kids that had any of these figures, nor did I, but to be honest by 1993 I was older and not really buying a lot of toys as girls were more on my mind than buying an action figure. Over the years, I have seen lots of Biker Mice figures at local thrift stores and flea markets showing that somebody bought them back in the day.

Biker Mice Toy 1Biker Mice Toy 2Biker Mice Toy 3

Like all good cartoons of the time, it was turned into a video game for the Super Nintendo, and for the re-launch a game was made for PS2 and Nintendo DS. But let’s focus on the SNES version as it’s the classic of the bunch and was released during the height of Biker Mice Mania. In 1994, Konami released a racing game based on Biker Mice From Marsfor the Super Nintendo that would allow the player to choose a character and race around different tracks. The game was over all praised for its game play and is somewhat of a cult classic in the world of SNES games. I can remember seeing the game for rent at K&L Video years later and never renting it.  Maybe I’ll see if Game Swap in Kettering has it in stock.

Biker Mice SNES 1Biker Mice From Mars SNESbiker mice snes 2

So we took a look at the cartoon, toys and video game attached to Biker Mice, and we even talked a little about the uncool factor it had from my former classmates so now I think it’s time we take a look at the Marvel Comic mini series based on it. I want to thank Half Price Books and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and allowing me to read them for the first time here on Rotten Ink. So before we hop on a chopper and go for a ride, I want to remind you that I grade these issues 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. So let’s hit the road and see what adventure we can have with The Biker Mice From Mars and Marvel Comics.

Biker Mice From Mars 1

Biker Mice From Mars # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993      Cover Price $1.50     Marvel Comics    #1 of 3

In space aboard a ship the biker mice Throttle, Modo and Vinnie are relaxing and even a little bored when they are attacked and shot down by evil, smelly, fish faced Plutarkians and crash land in Chicago during a baseball game. The Biker Mice mount their bikes and avoid security.  While leaving the ball field, Vinnie even stops a robbery of a hot dog dealer, and they ride off and notice how the place they are at now looks as run down as their home on Mars. Meanwhile in a big skyscraper Lawrence Limburger, the town’s bigwig business man, is talking to his henchman Grease Pit about his plans to drain Chicago of all its natural resources in a week.  He needs a location to complete his task, the Last Chance Garage, and sends Grease Pit there to rough up its female owner Charley Davidson. As she tries to fight off Grease Pit, the Biker Mice arrive and save the day by making a fool out of Limburger’s henchman and send a message that they are here to uphold justice.

This comic series clearly would have been a Star Comic if Marvel would have let the company stay open long enough. This mini series is clearly just based on the first couple of episodes in the Biker Mice cartoon series, and this first issue shows how they crash land on Earth and how they become friends with Charley and get on the radar of Limburger. The Biker Mice come off as noble rodents who love to ride and relax and most of all love to stand up for good and justice. Vinnie is the one who comes off more reckless and focused on fighting than the other two.  It’s clear he in is the Raphael as he follows his own set of rules and is the first to jump in a fight. Throttle and Modo don’t get to shine as brightly in this issue and very little of their personalities shine through.  All we really get is the basics. Charley Davidson comes off as an independent woman who is not afraid to stand up to those trying to bully her and take what she has worked hard for. Grease Pit is a muscle bound goon who is dimwitted and covered with motor oil and uses his muscles to try and push around those he views as weaker. Limburger is scum and is a big business man all the way as he doesn’t care about people or environment when a quick buck can be made.  Plus it shows he has no guts as he sends others to do his dirty work. So far despite giving some of the lamest lines in kids comics history, the Biker Mice are likable characters and ones that I think translate very well to comic books. The art in this issue is done by Rurik Tyler, and he does a great job of making it look like the cartoon.  The cover is also fantastic and very eye catching. So let’s move on to issue # 2 and see how this mini series plays out, shall we?

Biker Mice From Mars 2

Biker Mice From Mars # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #2 of 3

Charley Davidson is confused and amazed by her new friends and rescuers The Biker Mice who explain that they are from Mars and that they are the last of their kind because a race called the Plutarkians raided and stole all their natural resources and wiped them out.  Charley tells them she thinks the same thing is happening there in Chicago.  Limburger is mad at Grease Pit for not getting the garage and is even more upset when he hears that he was stopped by the Biker Mice who he knows all too well as they were his prisoners sometime back.  So he gets the crazy mad scientist Dr. Karbunkle to build an ultimate mouse trap, and they set out to capture the Mice. Charley works on the mice’s bikes and even adds new weapons.  This leaves her open to be kidnapped by Grease Pit and placed on the twisted mouse trap as bait, but once more Grease Pit is outsmarted and The Biker Mice send him back to Limburger, save Charley, and destroy the mouse trap. In the end The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s to take the fight to him as Karbunkle is bringing in an enforcer from another planet!

This second issue is used as a quick back story of Mars and all the bad stuff that happened that forced the Mice to live a life on the run.  It also shows that Limburger is already at his boiling point, and he wants those pesky rodents dead. I also like how it shows that Limburger has many oddballs working for him and each is as crazy as the next. Once more The Biker Mice come off as major good guys, and finally Throttle comes off as a leader and is clearly smart in his “war” tactics. Vinnie comes off a little more goofy in this one, always talking about how good looking he is and how his body looks.  He’s a little silly and makes you wish he would have stayed more like the brooding kick butt type. Limburger is as sleazy as ever and bullies his own men and wants to make short work of this planet so he can move on and pillage the next city. Grease Pit is as dumb as ever, and Karbunkle is super crazy and seem to be getting his kicks in torturing some strange little man who’s getting off on the abuse…it’s kind of creepy. At one point they ask Charley if she wanted to be rescued by Turtles, showing that they were aware that many kids compared the two. This second issue is pretty entertaining, and I found it to be on par with issue # 1 making this a good read for fans of the cartoon and characters. The artwork is done by two artists this time with Rurik Tyler returning and Gary Fields helping out.  Tyler’s work is better, and you can tell when Fields is working the pencil. The cover on this one is kick butt and eye catching, and I am it was appealing to kids who spotted it on the newsstand. Well let’s get to the third and final issue in this Marvel series based on a cartoon.

Biker Mice From Mars 3

Biker Mice From Mars # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #3 of 3

The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s building and are greeted by armed guards and must fight their way to the top where they come face to face with Grease Pit and Limburger who cower to the Biker Mice. But when Limburger calls on Dr. Karbunkle who is the man responsible for the injuries to the Mice, they are filled with rage and are ready for a fight.  Instead they’re greeted by a killer robot called X-Terminator who knocks them out the window.  A chase on Motorcycles ensues that leaves Throttle knocking The X-Terminator into boiling metal and the Biker Mice win a big victory. In the end they meet up at the baseball field and decide that their base will be inside the scoreboard and out of the radar reach of Limburger and his goons.

This third and final issue is good but it’s clear that everyone who worked on it knew that this was the final issue.  Many pages are large art splashes with little to no dialogue.  That said, I still found it to be a very fun and silly good read. The story is that The Biker Mice get to the location of Limburger and come face to face with the evil doctor who has scarred them for life.  They tangle with a robot man who is programmed to kill them and in the end destroy their robotic stalker and find a new place to live at the baseball field. The part of the story I really liked is that Dr. Karbunkle is the one who did some horrible things to The Mice while they were prisoners and he gets joy when he sees his dirty work up close again – sick serial killer kind of stuff. This time around The Biker Mice are more fleshed out as we see Throttle really show leadership skills.  Vinnie is still ego driven but ready to kick some fish men butt, and Modo is a powerhouse who beats up anything that gets in his way. While Grease Pit takes a backseat in this final issue, Dr. Karbunkle moves to the front and shows he is a man with plans and cruel ideas. While X-Terminator has the weapons to kill the Biker Mice, he seems more into delivering one-liners taken straight from Terminator 2 then killing them off, not to mention he goes down like a chump at the hands of Throttle. Limburger, while loud-mouthed and very mean, sure is a coward when having to come face to face with the Mice. The comic was a nice treat for fans of the cartoon, and I can’t help but feel that if Star was open when this was released, the series would have lasted a little longer than three issues.  Much like Camp Candy, I feel Marvel just put little to no care into making this series work while the people working on the comics put time and care into making a quality kids comic for readers. The art for the final issue was Rurik Tyler and like the others, the cover is fantastic. To sum it up, if you enjoyed the cartoon when this was released, I am sure you had a great time collecting and reading these issues, but TMNT super fans might find the series to be a rip off of their favorite heroes in a half shell. Check out the artwork below to see how good it looks compared to the style of the cartoon.

Biker Mice Art 1

So The Biker Mice have just rode off on the forgotten highway into a sunset as our time with them has come to an end.  I will say that the comic series was pretty good and was a nice way to help promote them at comic stores and on newsstands. Our next update is a subject very special to me as well as I am sure many horror host fans from the Dayton, Ohio area and beyond/.  I will be taking a look at the one and only Dr. Creep in a new Horror Host Icon update! So until then, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a classic cartoon or two and as always support your local horror host.  See ya next update for a Shocking good time…

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