Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Synopsis of Movie

“Attaaaaack of the Killer Tomatoes,
Attaaaaack of the Killer Tomatoes,
They’ll beat you, bash you, squish you, mash you, chew you up for brunch,
And finish you off for dinner or lunch.”

Few filmmakers have the guts (or the gall) to actually try to make a bad film. John De Bello was one of the bold few. This trash cinema auteur (writer/director/producer/actor) brought the world Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, a 1978 spoof of bad 50’s sci-fi flicks that actually managed to be considered worse than the movies it parodied. And in the Bizarro-movie world of low-budget campiness, that was the highest praise anyone could have given.

The title gives away all you need to know about the movie’s plot. Man-eating tomatoes of varying sizes (some bigger than a human being) have been popping up around the country, terrorizing (and eating) innocent Americans. CIA man Mason Dixon is assigned to investigate, rounding up a ragtag team that includes master of disguise Sam Smith, saber-carrying military nut Lt. Finletter, Russian swimmer Greta and SCUBA diver Greg Colburn. Nosy reporter Lois Fairchild tags along on the mission, trying to get the scoop on the mutated killers.

When it turns out that government experiments are responsible for creating these psychotic fruits, Mason and company are forced to take on a corrupt administration as well as the tomatoes themselves. Can nothing be done to stop these sun-ripened slaughterers?

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! was certainly bad, but in the minds of many, that gave it a greatness not seen since the heyday of Ed “Plan 9 From Outer Space” Wood. Kids especially were delighted by the kind of movie that seemed to be made just for them—silly premise, corny jokes, goofy special effects and all. The film was by no means a box-office blockbuster, but it did become a cult classic, surfacing on cable and on video for years after its release in theaters.

Ten years later, as the legend of the Killer Tomatoes continued to build, John De Bello decided it was time for an equally campy sequel. Return of the Killer Tomatoes! starred John Astin (TV’s Gomez Addams) as Professor Gangreen, a mad scientist creating human beings from tomatoes (and vice versa), their killer tendencies intact. Solidifying its place as a cult hit, the movie also boasted a cast that included future superstar George Clooney and 2000’s most talked-about groom, Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire’s Rick Rockwell.

The tomatoes’ next move was to television, where they starred in a surprisingly successful Saturday morning cartoon series. Astin and Rockwell (and De Bello, of course) returned for two more movie sequels, 1990’s Killer Tomatoes Strike Back and 1991’s Killer Tomatoes Eat France!, proving that the only thing worse (in a good way) than a bad movie is a bad movie franchise.

Movie Release History

1978 - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!
1988 - Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
1990 - Killer Tomatoes Strike Back
1991 - Killer Tomatoes Eat France!

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

Four Square Prods., New World Pictures


Mason Dixon   David Miller
Lois Fairchild  Sharon Taylor
Jim Richardson  George Wilson
Wilbur Finletter  J. Stephen "Rock" Peace
Salesman   Jack Riley
Senator Polk   Eric Christmas
Sergeant  Paul Abbot
Major Mills  Jerry Anderson
Guard at Gate  Nigel Barber
Gretta Attenbaum  Benita Barton
Sergeant  Gregg Berger
Old Man   Don Birch
Old Woman  Rebecca Birch
Hotel Clerk   Richard Buresh
Superman  Brian Cantwell
Greg Colburn  Steve Cates
Housewife  Cindy Charles
General #2  Hal Chidnoff
Singing Soldier   Tom Coleman
General #1  Richard Curtis
Deaf/Blind Cop  James De Bello
Janitor  John De Bello
Bobby Drake  Chad Demmon
Wife  Efemia Dillon
President's Secretary  Ellen Drexler
Bruce  David Hall
Receptionist  Lydia Hannibal
TV Reporter   Jim Hess
Fia Director  Art K. Koustik
Key Grip/Chief  Robert Matzenauer
President  Ernie Meyers
The Admiral   Burt Miller
President  Ernie Myers
Lady at Supermarket   Riba Nolan
Senator McKinley  Jack Nolen
Dr. Nokitofa   Paul Oya
Detective #1  Joe Price
Captain  John Qualls
Detective #2  Gordon Ross
Roberts  Alan Scharf
Newspaper Editor  Ron Shapiro
Ted Swan  Al Sklar
Sam Smith  Gary Smith
Mrs. Williams  D.J. Sullivan
Dr. Morrison  Byron Teegarden
Man in Library  Costa Dillon
Scientist  Doug Vernon
Billy  Dan Walsh
Mr. Mikkelson  Wayne Wynne

Other Movie Links