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Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

Theatrical release poster.
Directed by John De Bello
Produced by Stephen Peace
Written by John De Bello
Costa Dillon
Stephen Peace
Starring Michael Villani
John Astin
Karen Mistal
Anthony Starke
George Clooney
Music by Neal Fox
Rick Patterson
Cinematography Victor Lou
Stephen Welch
Editing by John De Bello
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release date(s) April, 1988
Running time 98 min
Language English
Preceded by Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)
Followed by Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! (1990)

Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988) was the first sequel to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!.


Set twenty five years after the events of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (referred to as the Great Tomato War in the movie), the basic plotline is that after the events of the first film (where the tomatoes were stopped by the worst song ever composed called "Puberty Love") the misanthropic villain, Professor Mortimer Gangreen (Played by John Astin), has created a tomato transformation chamber by which he can turn ordinary tomatoes into humans. 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's picked. With these, he plans to conquer the world. Though the veterans of the Great Tomato War have something to say about that...

This film marks the 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).

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

Filmed on 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista in what is now known as Don Pedro's Taco Shop.


  • Gary Condit, the former United States Congressman at the center of the 2001 Chandra Levy scandal, appeared in the film unbilled as a pizzeria patron during a fight sequence. Wearing a trucker hat, he smashes a bottle on the head of a cowboy[1]. Condit was friends with Stephen Peace, and both were members of the California State Assembly at the time.
  • In one scene, George Clooney's character cooks up a scheme to pick up women by holding a fake contest to win a date with Rob Lowe. When 'Return' was released in theatres during the summer of 1988, Lowe gained notoriety during the same period of time by allegedly having sex with underage women, something that nearly ended his career.
  • One of Matt's (George Clooney's character) "Win A Date With Rob Lowe" contestants is played by Porn star Teri Weigel. When Chad arrives at Matt's apartment, Teri asks "Are you Rob Lowe?!" Matt protests helping Chad by showing the Playboy Magazine cover which shows Teri on the cover and Teri herself places a toothbrush in her mouth in the same pose that her cover shows. Eventually Matt leaves Teri to help Chad find Tara, but only after Chad makes mention that he saved Matt's life two times (a common play on 'buddy flicks' of the day was that one main character would save another's life, though not necessarily shown in the film specifically).
  • The art for the poster, shown above, was created by then illustrator, now Encinitas, CA fine artist, David R. Darrow. The original design[2], 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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