Return of the Killer Tomatoes

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Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
Theatrical release poster.
Directed by John De Bello
Produced by Stephen Peace
Written by
Music by
Edited by John De Bello
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release dates
  • April 22, 1988 (1988-04-22)
Running time
98 min
Country United States
Language English

Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988), is a horror comedy film which was the first sequel to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.


Set 10 years after the events of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (referred to as the Great Tomato War), the United States is once again safe, and tomatoes have been outlawed (although authorities still deal with "tomato smugglers" who sell to people who cannot live without ordinary tomatoes). Wilbur Finletter (Steve Peace) has been praised as a hero of the Great Tomato War and parlayed his fame into opening Finletter's Pizzeria, which serves tomato-less pizzas. Working for Wilbur is his nephew Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke) who is a delivery boy. Also with Chad is his roommate Matt Stevens (George Clooney), a suave ladies' man.

However, trouble returns with a misanthropic villain, Professor Mortimer Gangreen (played by John Astin) and his assistant Igor (Steve Lundquist) seek to unleash another wave of tomato terror. Professor Gangreen was perplexed at being defeated by "Puberty Love", the worst song ever created, and says that this time music will aid, rather than hinder him. Gangreen has created a tomato transformation chamber by which he can turn ordinary tomatoes into replicas of men and women. By dipping ordinary tomatoes into vats of toxic waste and then placing them into the chamber, Gangreen uses music to his advantage, as the juke box that is hooked up to the chamber syncs up with the tomato transformation chamber, allowing him to create virtually anything by the use of whatever song he has picked (Michael Jackson music seems to make tomatoes into a clone of Jackson, the Miami Vice theme seems to make replicas of Don Johnson and seductive music apparently turns tomatoes into beautiful women). Gangreen's preferred music is rock, which creates soldiers. With his tomato commandos, Professor Gangreen seeks to attack the nearby prison where he will break out his imprisoned ally Jim Richardson (Rick Rockwell), then take over the United States under the subjugation of his killer tomatoes and installing Richardson as President of the United States. Gangreen has also used his device to create an attractive female replica named Tara (Karen Mistal), who serves as Gangreen's assistant until she realizes his abusive attitude towards a wrongly mutated tomato whom she dubs FT, or Fuzzy Tomato. Tara defects to Finletter's Pizza where she starts dating Chad.



This film marks the first appearance of FT, the Fuzzy Tomato. Other notable characters are Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke), nephew of Wilbur Finletter (the semi-main, but more popular, character of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!) and his girlfriend Tara (Karen Mistal), who is actually a female Killer Tomato turned into an attractive girl by the device. Tara turns back into a tomato when she hears the opening musical notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; however, the musical notes of the theme to Gone with the Wind restores her to human form.

The characters and timeline of this film were recycled for the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Animated Series (with some changes, such as Professor Gangreen's first name being changed to Putrid and his title being changed from 'Professor' to 'Doctor' and Tara having an 'allergy' to salt which changes her back into a tomato with pepper changing her back to human form). CSA Casting Director Samuel Warren Jr. Casted for this project in LA and in San Diego, Ca., USA!

Return of the Killer Tomatoes! also has the distinction of being one of George Clooney's earliest movies.

This was shot in National City. It was also filmed on 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista in what is now known as Don Pedro's Taco Shop.

A trailer to the film shows up on some VHS copies of Twister.


The art for the poster, shown above, was created by then illustrator now portrait painter, David R. Darrow, now living in San Jose, CA. The original design [1] as assigned by designer Kevin Eaton and completed by Darrow, used the design of a Campbell's Soup can, using the face of actor John Astin in the center seal. The idea was sidelined over copyright / branding concerns, and a "patch" was created to alter the work. High-end digital compositing was too expensive at the time, so Darrow was further commissioned to create the new replacement label which was physically glued over the original illustration, preserving the original background and tomato characters. Darrow still retains the original, 2-layer artwork.

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