Killer Tomatoes : The Animated Series
Killer Tomatoes franchise
In 1990, an animated version of the Killer Tomatoes debuted on Fox kids. New World Pictures had noticed a tidy profit coming from the Tomato sequel and decided to plug it into Saturday morning, where the revival of the franchise had begun.
The animated series was to be a direct spin off of the film, and featured all manner of recurring characters, starting with Wilbur Finletter, complete with his dangling parachute and his team from the first film. His nephew Chad and the tomato girl from the film are here as well, though they have been de-aged. Chad is now around 12, and Tara looks 15 (though she drives so that places her at 16 or older) and now has weird tomato powers (whatever McGuffin we need for a particular episode). Of course with powers comes a weakness ! If she encounters salt, she turns back into a tomato and can only be transformed back to a human by sprinkling pepper on her. It’s a departure from the movies, where the tomatoes tend to be affected by music, rather than salt. Still, this may have been easier for younger viewers to understand. F.T. the fuzzy tomato also joins them on their adventures.
On the other side of things, the villains from the film have crossed over as well. We get Doctor Gangrene and his newsman wannabe sidekick Igor who inexplicably wears shorts with a blazer in the cartoon. They even brought in John Astin to voice Doctor Gangrene (the only actual cast member to make the transition from live action to animation). Gangrene unleashes tomato related terror on the town, led by his minions – the tomato gang of six; Zoltan, a stitched up killer tomato who sports an eyepatch. There’s also Fang, a green tomato who gets his name from his large protruding teeth. Mummato, the mummy tomato, beefsteak, a tomato with bull horns and Ketchup – the obligatory “fat one”.
While beautifully animated, the first season is standard monster of the week cartoon fare. One weeks it’s a tomato shark, the next it’s the tomato from the black lagoon, the next it’s a Phantom of the Opera tomato. The action has been moved from San Francisco to the more cartoon friendly San Zucchini and the action is frequently narrated by the local newscaster with big hair. It’s very self aware, perhaps not so much as the live action films, but nevertheless, I laugh every time they take a swipe at the Ninja Turtles (“No! We don’t deliver pizza to the sewer!”). Things change up significantly in the second season. During the hiatus, the story editors on Killer Tomatoes changed and they decided on a more arc based approach. In the opening of season two, Doctor Gangrene and his tomatoes succeed in taking over the world, but the tomatoes double cross Gangrene and he finds himself having to joining forces with the Finletters to take the world back for humanity during the tomato apocalypse. By the end of the season, they take advantage of the schism between Zoltan and Fang, and ultimately deploy tomato worms to fight the gang of six.
In addition to the story direction, the animation style changed between seasons with year two looking a bit cheaper than the previous series. This, combined with a tendency to air the episodes out of order and a complete disregard for any sort of internal continuity led the series to shed viewers and it was cancelled before the end of season two. Nevertheless, the effects of the animated series would be felt going forward. If nothing else, it finally gave me the one thing that was largely missing from the two previous Killer Tomato movies – Tomatoes. Lots of Tomatoes. Not just background, not just flashbacks or tomatoes in name only (Gangrene’s castle guards in part two for instance) but simply tons of monster tomatoes. The third film would have been in production around the time the cartoon was being made and (perhaps not so) coincidentally, we’d start seeing more tomatoes in live action films than ever before.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Killer Tomatoes franchise
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes begins a housewife doing dishes in a Suburban Housing Development. She discovers a tomato in the sink which escapes and rolls towards her menacingly. It’s possibly the greatest pre-credits sequence ever.
We launch into the instantly recognizable theme song, over shots of tomatoes being smashed against the camera. Don’t let the song distract you though, the credits themselves are loaded with gags and we’re off to a perfect start.
On the other side of the credits, we’re already in the middle of a siege film, with cops and Military mobilizing against the Tomato Invasion. The Tomatoes bring down a helicopter, and you watch them slowly roll towards the cops as they unload their shotguns!
Military I’m downstairs secret weapon for dealing with the mutated Tomatoes – a cyborg name bruce! Needs some work but they’ve got a crack team ready to go out and deal with the Tomato problem. Meanwhile, the tomatoes take to the Seas!
The government is doing its best to keep the media out of it, but the papers and television keep trying to find out what’s going on.
We’re about halfway into the film before the tomatoes start to swell and grow giant size. That’s when things start to get interesting, and they begin to pick off the team, and the master of disguise infiltrates them, disguised as a tomato. There’s senate sub committees, full on musical style showtunes and tomato treachery. The people fight back and finally corner the tomatoes in a stadium where they destroy them with music.
It’s a bizzare spectacle and a cult classic, but to be honest, I’m a way bigger fan of the sequels it would spawn…more of them than you might have guessed!
Where all my lady tomatoes at????
Tomatoes are watching you poop.
Critters vs Tomatoes
Now this is a movie I’d totally watch.
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back immediately gets on my good side by starting off as a slasher movie. Literally, we’ve got a young woman being chased to the woods by a chainsaw wielding maniac… What makes this fun is he is accompanied by several chainsaw wielding tomatoes as well!
We’ve got a slacker detective whose gun fires tomatoes investigating a tomato related murder.
It looks like the tomatoes not only got the girl, they also got the hockey mask killer! Still, our detective is not convinced that this is actually a tomato murder. The cops consults a tomato expert, just before the narrowly missing capturing a small tomato. It flees, leaving behind a big moustache (Did I mention the tomato was in disguise?). Back at the lab, our tomato expert is attacked, surrounded on all sides by killer tomatoes crashing through the windows and trying to break out of the cages.
We cut to a television screen where we see that Dr Gangrene from the previous film has returned, and is now posing as a talk show host – something in the model of Geraldo or Phil Donahue. He’s brought Igor with him, the wannabe news man looks quite at home on television set. Today’s guests are going to be the heroes of the tomato war, as well as fuzzy tomato. On the show, Captain Findletter argues with the tomatologist and fuzzy tomato about the antisocial tendencies of tomatoes in general. Dr gangrene uses this opportunity to try and frame fuzzy tomato as a villain and turn the public against him.
Back at the police station, the detectives watch, amused. The detective complains about getting nothing but garbage cases even though his colleague thinks that tomato murder might be his big break… the detective doesn’t believe in killer tomatoes.
He gets the call to go and investigate in a car that had been attacked by killer tomatoes while back at the station, Dr gangrene feeds his killer tomatoes. throw in a quick shower scene with a bunch of fake outs.
Dr gangrene begins he is diabolical plan by posting a fake media appreciation day which allows him to kidnap members of the media – the getaway track is of course driven by a small tomato. It’s his revenge for the way the rest of the media snubbed him when he started his talk show.
The detective decides to visit the tomato expert again to get some insight. All I get him is a bunch of parking tickets on his car and beat up by a rogue gang of tomatoes, hanging out in the park… One of them leaves a note “ stay away or else!” The detective is certain it was fuzzy tomato who set up the ambush. He is wrong of course, it’s Dr gangrene is killer tomatoes, so he sends after their tomato expert next!
The killer tomatoes infiltrate her apartment through the vents and the detective is there just-in-time to rescue her with a golf club. they had over to a bar, patronized by depressed looking tomatoes. (Never order a bloody Mary in a tomato bar!). They find a snitch there, and bribe him to get information for $100. The tip leads them to a shady acting class at camp broadcast school (not affiliated with CBS Inc). fuzzy tomato is hiding out as the bellboy there as they infiltrate.
Meanwhile, Dr Gangrene has kidnapped the police chief and is busy revealing his plans as he brainwashes him. The detective and free him but get discovered in the process. Suddenly they find themselves under attack by ninja tomatoes who kidnap the tomato expert and race off of her. (gangrene is next show is all about hostages!) it’s up to the detective to rescue the tomato expert before Dr Gangrene can turn her into a bacon lettuce and human sandwich!
That’s the level of lunacy you can expect from this installment. I love that they are leaning int the absurdity, and parodying the media here, but even more, I love that we’re getting more tomatoes. It’s a shift we see here, with more character in the tomatoes, one that will come to it’s fullest expression in the next entry!
Someone needs to make a box set of these. They are all must buys!
I can’t really pinpoint when or why I decided to build my Killer Tomatoes. I know I was watching the films….probably for a franchise focus or something, and I’ve always loved the last one.
I noticed that as the Halloween stuff was going up at Dollar Tree, they were selling styrofoam pumpkins…labeled as “Carvable”. Sometime it’s a shape that will really strike me, and in this case it was the general shape, proportion and size. It occurred to me that they would be the ideal size if I were to try and make a tomato.
I drew what I wanted, basing the shapes on the ones in the fourth movie mainly. The gal would then be to dremmel the curves and shapes into place. Bits would be added here and there, glue for the stitches and foam for an eyepatch or teeth, and then everythign painted over.
We can’t just have the villians though, if I’m making tomatoes, I really need a Fuzzy Tomato too! FT was simple enough, grabbing my kids old Elmo costume out of the attic, then sewing it up, and covering the gap with leaves and a stem.
I ended up making a few FTs, one t give away to a friend and one to give away to Marc Price, the star of Killer Tomatoes Eat France!
Tune back in for more pictures!
Tomatoes vs Hellraiser
You opened the box…we came.
Yeah, this wasn’t what I was expecting…..
When I said wear a mask, I was thinking something less suspicious.