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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" - A Request

I am really excited about the new Wednesday feature! This is the first time in a really long time in which I hand over the controls to all of you out there, and you can tell me what you want me to write about!

It's something that I like to call All-Request Wednesdays!

Now, if you're just joining us for the first time, I think I owe you a little bit of an explanation as to how this new theme day is going to work. And, for those of you who regularly read this little nook on the web, this will just be a mini refresher course. Don't worry. You will not be tested or graded on this blog.

Well, for today, anyway.

When I was coming up with some fresh ideas for the second anniversary celebrations of “A Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life”, I made the decision to combine the previous Wednesday and Saturday theme days into one. That day became known as the Saturday Smorgasbord, and on that day, you will read all about books, toys, cartoons, and electronic video games.

But, I didn't know what I would do for the newly opened up Wednesday. I already made the commitment to make this blog a lot more personal, and as you have noticed, I've been sharing a lot of stories from my childhood (and adulthood) that I am hoping that you've gotten some enjoyment from. At the very least, know that you're probably just as much of a goofball as this self-admitted one is. Believe me, we can all take comfort in knowing that we all have goofy qualities that can bond us.

At the same time, I really wanted to take the opportunity to thank every single one of you for tuning into this blog over the past 700+ days and supporting me in my writing pursuits. As much as I really want to make this a lucrative career in which my writing can actually make me a profit, for now I'm just happy to have so many people interested in what I have to say.

So, I wanted to do something very special for all of you as a token of my gratitude for supporting me. I only wish that I could offer up some prizes for all of you, but alas, I am on a strict budget, and cannot afford to make that a reality just yet.

As a result, I decided on Plan B. What if I devoted one day of my blog each week as a day in which I write about what you want to see?

What if I gave my readers the opportunity to request a topic for me to talk about?

Well, that's the premise behind the All-Request Wednesdays. You will get the chance to give me your suggestions on what you want to see, and each week, I will choose one at random to talk about.

If I select your topic, then I will put your name in print, as well as the area where you're from if you like (but I'll just keep it to the state, province, or country you happen to be from). And, I will do this once a week.

In fact, I'm going to do you one better. If you have a topic that you want to talk about AND you want to write a piece about it yourself, by all means, send it in, and I will print it word for word right here in this space every Wednesday. I know I love to express myself in a creative fashion, but I also want to encourage others to have their say as well, and for people to share their stories and art with everyone here.

In short, All-Request Wednesdays are all about what YOU want! I figure it's the least that I can do.

I was kind of behind the eight ball when I launched the inaugural edition of the All-Request Wednesday, so as a result, I ended up only getting ONE request (which I will post here). But, if you want to get a request into the blog, as of right now, I have two ways that you can do so.

  1. Join the official PCA fan page on Facebook and drop me a line. You can join the fun HERE.
  1. Join the official Google+ fan page and drop me a line. You can join the fun HERE.

If I get enough interest in the day, I'll maybe consider adding a Twitter account for this blog, as well as creating a special e-mail address for you to use.

(Truth be told, I DID have one made up, but I cannot remember what password I used.)

So, I thought that I would kick off this first All-Request Wednesday by thanking Cullen P. of Virginia for the great suggestion! When I posted the upcoming changes to the blog, he immediately piped in with a possible topic! So, again, thank you Cullen!

Today's topic is going to sound kind of like a Monday Matinee post, as it is largely based on a movie. But, in doing the research for this particular blog, I was surprised to learn that there was also a television cartoon series based on this movie, as well as several sequels. The cartoon series really shocked me, especially since when it first came out, I had mistakenly believed that I had seen every possible cartoon up to that point.

Alas, back in the early 1990s, our cable provider did not have a FOX affiliate.

Anyway, back to the movie.

I remember that in my youth, it took a really long time for me to get used to the modern day horror movie. When I was a kid, I didn't even like to hear the yelling and shouting of “Knots Landing”, or the fisticuffs and shootings that could be seen on a standard “Dallas” cliffhanger. I was a kid who never liked to see other people get hurt, and,'s very rare for anybody to get out of a horror film alive.

Over time, I started to appreciate horror movies better, and now I consider some of them to be my all-time favourite films. Though, to be completely fair, I have never been one who could stomach heavy gore and lots of blood. With that admission, do not ask me to go and watch any of the Saw, Final Destination, or the remakes of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not unless you want me to pass out cold.

If you want me to watch classic horror films by Alfred Hitchcock? Now we're talking.

Another type of horror film that I really enjoy watching are horror film parodies. The ones that completely make fun of the genre of horror are aces in my books. You know the ones I mean, right? I guess some examples that I can think of right off the bat are “Scary Movie”, and “Shaun Of The Dead”. And, well, I suppose that you could also consider “Evil Dead II” to be a kind of parody film, even though when it was made, I don't think that was the intention. Still a fantastic movie though.

Today's movie could be considered a spoof movie in that the film was meant to be an amalgamation of several B movies of the horror genre into one plot...only the plots of said B movies were grossly exaggerated and filmed in such a way that people laughed more than screamed.

Now everyone knows that in order to have a good horror movie (even in spoof form), you'd have to have a fairly memorable antagonist. “King Kong” had a giant-sized gorilla. “Outbreak” had a cute little monkey who happened to be the carrier of an Ebola-like virus. “Night of the Living Dead” and the “Resident Evil” series had flesh-eating zombies.

And, this movie had...tomatoes? I mean, seriously. Tomatoes? Unless you're allergic to pizza sauce and ketchup, how could tomatoes be considered scary?

Well, they could be scary if they were killer tomatoes! And, when you have a whole bunch of them gathering together, the situation could be quite scary.

Brace yourselves. It's the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

Released in October 1978, and predating the website “Rotten Tomatoes” by at least a couple of decades, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” was directed, co-produced, and co-written by John DeBello.

(DeBello was also responsible for 1988's “Return of the Killer Tomatoes”, 1990's “Killer Tomatoes Strike Back”, and 1991's “Killer Tomatoes Eat France”.)

Made of a paltry budget of just $90,000, the film did surprisingly well at the box office, making a little more than half a million. This was quite fantastic considering that the film was subjected to negative reviews. However, the film also became a cult hit, and several people still talk about it fondly.

And, the film itself spoofs several other films, including “The Birds” and “Jaws”.

As far as the plot's pretty hard to describe without spoiling several details. That, plus I'm not entirely sure how to talk about it as it is completely convoluted and out there. Maybe I should just do some bullet points about what you can expect.

  • The main character of the movie is played by David Miller, and the character he plays is named Mason Dixon (a pun on the Mason-Dixon line).
  • The film also features an appearance by Jack Riley. You might remember him from the television show “The Bob Newhart Show”, the voice of Stu Pickles from “Rugrats”, and the voice of one of the hands during the series of Country Crock margarine commercials that aired during the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The main plot is the United States government trying to eradicate the threat of mutant tomatoes that are going around the country killing innocent people.
  • Some of the ways that the tomatoes go around killing people are the tomatoes eating people, crushing people, and in one case, poisoning people with deadly tomato juice.
  • The hit song “Puberty Love” becomes the key to winning the war against the deadly vegetables. How that happens, I cannot say.

TRIVIA: The song “Puberty Love” was recorded by then-sixteen year old Matt Cameron, who would later join the bands “Soundgarden” and “Pearl Jam”.

Now, here's the one thing that's quite stunning about “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. I already told you about the three sequels that were released between 1988 and 1991. But did you know that the film also spawned a cartoon series in 1990?

The show was called “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” (though the cartoon was actually based on the 1988 sequel). It aired for two seasons, and spawned twenty-one episodes. Ironically enough, the voice cast for this cartoon was more well-known than the cast of the movie! John Astin (a.k.a. The original Gomez Addams), Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Kath Soucie, and Maurice LaMarche all contributed to the voice cast of this short lived cartoon. I had no idea that the cartoon even existed! So, just to get acquainted with it, let's watch a snippit of an episode, shall we?

The film also spawned several computer and video games that were released between 1986 and 1991, a comic book adaptation in 2008, and believe it or not, in 1999, a Greek homage to the series was made under the Greek title “I epithesi tou gigantiaiou mousaka” (or, in English, “The Attack of the Giant Moussaka”.)

And, that's our look back on the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. You certainly won't look at a tomato quite the same way again, will you?

Thanks again for the suggestion, Cullen!

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