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Attack of the killer tomatoes

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Title: Attack of the killer tomatoes  
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Subject: List of comedy-horror films
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Attack of the killer tomatoes

The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
File:Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John DeBello
Produced by John DeBello
Stephen Peace
Written by John DeBello
Costa Dillon
Stephen Peace
Based on Original Idea:
Costa Dillon
Starring David Miller
George Wilson
Costa Dillon
Music by John De Bello
Cinematography John K. Culley
Editing by John De Bello
Distributed by NAI Entertainment
Release date(s) October 1978
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget USD$90,000
Box office $567,000

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a 1978 comedy horror film directed, produced, edited, scored and co-written by John DeBello and starring David Miller. The film is a spoof of B movies. Made on a budget of less than US$100,000, the story involves tomatoes becoming sentient by unknown means and revolting against humanity. Writing credits were shared by DeBello, Costa Dillon, and Stephen Peace.

The success of the film led to three sequels, all directed and co-written by DeBello.

Helicopter accident

The finished film contains footage of a real helicopter crash. In a scene showing law enforcement officers firing their weapons to ward off tomatoes in a field, a $60,000 Hiller Aircraft UH-12E that had been rented for the production was supposed to have landed in the tomato patch behind the officers, but during the landing, its tail rotor struck the ground, causing the craft to spin out of control near the ground, roll over, and burst into flames. The helicopter pilot escaped without serious injury.[1] The crash was accidentally caught on film and was later worked into the film.

"We were shot down by a kamikaze tomato!" "Tomatoes can't FLY!" "Oh, yeah? Well, they can't eat PEOPLE either, but they're doing one hell of a job of that!"


There have been a number of sequels and other spin-off material in various media as a result of this movie. They include three movie sequels:

The 1988 sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, uses stock footage from this film in the opening, with only one real change. The scene from the climax of the original portraying hundreds of people running into the stadium to squash the tomatoes is dubbed over to make it seem like they are evacuating the area.

In the theme song for this film we hear about the death of Herbert Farbage by tomatoes, in the opening song for the sequel we learn that Herbert actually survived the attack and now has an upcoming TV show.

American composer and orchestrator Gordon Goodwin, one of the original composers for the film, later wrote a big band piece inspired by the music for this film, to be played with his jazz ensemble Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. The piece is meant to poke fun at the soundtrack in a musically comic fashion, especially through the song's use of solo Bass Trombone.

Adaptations and spin-offs

  • The film was adapted in 1990 as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (TV series), a cartoon TV series which ran on Fox Kids, but despite the name, it was based on Return of the Killer Tomatoes. One scene did include live action footage of the Killer Tomatoes film, followed by a comment it is the worst torture a prisoner could endure.
  • A novel released in 1997, Attack of the Killer Potatoes, pays tribute to the film.
  • Three different video games were developed; a 1986 video game released for 8-bit computers, which was based on the film, and a 1991 video game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy game consoles, which was based on the animated series.
  • Viper Comics has released a comic book adaptation of the film in October 2008.[2]
  • Kim Harrison's book series "The Hollows" is based in a world where genetically engineered tomatoes killed off a significant portion of the population. The author admitted inspiration came from this movie.[3]
  • A Greek film has also been made as an homage, I epithesi tou gigantiaiou mousaka (The Attack of the Giant Moussaka) (1999).[4][5]
  • A short film Tomatoes Eat You! by Bulgarian director Nenko Genov, pays tribute to the film. It is made as a horror trailer, using music by John Williams. The text of the trailer is "For generations they were cooked, mashed, canned, eaten aliveā€¦ or even worse! And now they strike back! Prepare for a horror beyond your imagination! This summer TOMATOES EAT YOU!". In the end additional message appears - "You can stop the nightmare now! Say No to Genetically Modified Organisms!"[6]


A remake of the film is in development for a possible 2013 release. Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, creators of Ask a Ninja are developing the project. This will be Nichols' directorial debut. M. Dal Walton III is co-producing along with Emmett/Furla Films.[7][8]


The theme song of the movie describes the tomatoes' rampages through the world, describing that they've killed a man named Herman Farbage while he was taking out the garbage, that the Mayor is on vacation to get out of stopping them, that they've scared off the National Guard and that they've even eaten the narrator's sister. This theme song is used in different variations over the course of the series, here simply sounding like the score of an old monster movie with lyrics and a more catchy tune.

The song "Puberty Love" was sung by the then-teenage Matt Cameron, drummer for Soundgarden and since 1998 the drummer for Pearl Jam.

Critical reception

The film was poorly received by critics, ironically garnering 27% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.[9] However, the film has achieved a cult status.

See also




  • Wingrove, David. Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985)

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • AllRovi
  • TCM Movie Database

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