Why do some claim to be connoisseurs of the B-movies? The answer is actually quite simple. This is the name for a low budget film where the budget is minuscule, the acting terrible, and the script non-existent. They are also made out of a pure love of cinema – those who create them desperately want to tell a story or tell a joke. At their best, they represent a sort of pure form of cinema in which people are free to experiment with their techniques and communicate their themes in ways that are unconventional to say the least. Why have an existential examination of the break down of society when it is far simpler to communicate the same thing by having a monster destroy it.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is definitely the B-movie at its best. Oh sure, it is a terrible film. That is not the point. The point is that the film works as wonderful comedy; comedy I have to believe is intentional. The idea was to mock the Irwin Allen disaster films using every possible joke they could (two years before Airplane did it) as well as the works of Hitchcock and the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.
The film is about..well, about what you think it is. Tomatoes are starting to destroy civilization by eating it. (These attacks, despite the title, are actually never shown). The government attempts to address the situation in the most haphazard way possible – the committee meant to address them is made of up a group of misfits including a paratrooper who walks around with his parachute dragging behind him and a master of disguise who dresses as Hitler. Between their efforts to stop the tomatoes is a series of montages showing a nation in panic.
This film is truly a precursor to Airplane! and does not nearly receive enough credit for being the first true spoof. The filmmakers did not know what they wanted to do in order to make people laugh – so they decided to do everything. Not necessarily a bad approach; Monty Python did the same thing. The thing is that the comedy certainly is not a smart one. Many could have taken a much different different approach and come up with something far more clever,
It just would not have been as funny. Besides, the whole thing does reek of a sort of Bunelian surrealism. Who could find a sort of McArthur style fear in an item from the produce section of the grocery store? The filmmakers used such an item to show us how bizarre our malaise and fears truly were. What if our fears were being placed in such items? I highly doubt we as a nation would stand for it. And what of our monopoly on pop music? The filmmakers have that covered as well with the ditty “Puberty Love.” It is one of the funniest musical moments in history. And the theme song to the film is also fantastic – a true return to items such as “The Blob” and other such numbers. This one is not taken seriously where as “The Blob” was.
I will close with Pauline Kael’s quote: “if we do not understood good trash, we cannot understand good art.” Well, this is great trash.