RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!
The humour in the first film lay in the deadpan silliness of tomatoes mimicking shark attacks from Jaws (1975), wearing headphones and the like. Here the elements of the first films success clearly eludes director John de Bello and Return of the Killer Tomatoes! is merely silly. We get surprisingly little in the way of the same absurdist humour. There is the odd scene that hits the same silly incongruity like a dog in a diving mask or the tomato FT riding a dune bike. Mostly though, de Bellos humour seems silly and forced. A prison has signs that divide sections up between Really Nasty Guys and Former White House Aides; a woman is interviewed about the tomato panic in the restaurant and the tv interviewer starts abusing her: You mean you were eating alone you cant get a date ... You cant even see your own feet, you fat cow.
This time John de Bello seems to get off on breaking the fourth wall down with a series of gags that remind us we are watching a film. The film is framed by a tv gameshow, which itself interrupts the film during the climactic showdown, having Gangreen win the mystery word just as he is about to pull the gas chamber lever. A chase sequence is interrupted by two onlookers: There hasnt been a chase scene in the movie yet its already 25 minutes old ... Thats the shortest chase scene Ive ever seen, Its a low-budget movie. In another scene, the film suddenly stops because the production has run out of money and the director (John de Bello playing himself) throws his hands up about having to pay people for talking on film whereupon everybody in camera range talks in unison. The film gets its most amusing mileage out of its product placement gags (which is, of course, the films answer to its cash crisis) a packet of Kelloggs is placed in front of the camera during a two-shot in a restaurant booth; Gangreen wears a Pepsi ad on the back of his lab coat; a Pepsi ad is placed over the obviously cheap exterior painting of his laboratory; Steve Lundquist stops during a phone call to mention the name of the service provider; and George Clooney improvises a bizarre conversation during which he manages to plug numerous soda, beer and chocolate brands.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes!s greatest notoriety in retrospect is for being one of the first acting appearances of now A-list movie superstar George Clooney. Co-star Rick Rockwell, who plays a small role as a jailed presidential aide, later had his fifteen minutes of fame as the millionaire on the infamous Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? tv special (1999).
The subsequent sequels were Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! (1991) and Killer Tomatoes Eat France (1992). The idea was also spun out as an amusing animated childrens series Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1990-93).