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Killer Tomatoes Eat France Reviews

Made under the simple philosophy of milk-it-to-death, this sequel accurately proclaims itself "Part IV of the Tomatoes Trilogy" that commenced with the cheapo satire ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES and followed with RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES and KILLER TOMATOES STRIKE BACK. Once again the original artistes John DeBello, J. Stephen Peace and Constantine Dillon haul out the premise of deadly vegetables on the warpath and load it with broad spoofs of everything they can think of. The frustrating thing is that DeBello, Peace and Dillon really do know how to be funny, seeding their send-ups with some of the brightest movie parody this side of THE NAKED GUN. But they refuse to let go of the fifteen-year-old premise, and a killer-tomato movie is like a good stand-up comic endlessly doing variations of the same routine. This installment does indeed relocate to France, where the series's perennial villain, fright-wigged Prof. Gangrene (John Astin), inexplicably resurrected since his demise last time, has set up headquarters with his feral tomatoes in an ancient, tourist-filled castle. Gangrene plans to control all France through his handsome bonehead sidekick Igor (Steve Lundquist), who resembles old engravings of a prophesied King Louis XVII who will regain the throne when the correct omens are fulfilled. This necessitates another killer tomato attack, so Gangrene kidnaps "F.T.," or Fuzzy Tomato, the cuddly lab-created mutant who's a friend to all humanity and currently tours in a "We Are the World"-type musical event promoting man-tomato brotherhood. The villain replaces F.T. with one of the wicked tomatoes, which performs an incendiary tomato gangstah rap that makes the audience riot, and tomato war four is on. Opposing the menace is Michael (Marc Price), an actor first shown lamenting his role in a killer tomatoes film. Consequently he tells everybody that he's Michael J. Fox, especially a naive French beauty named--as absolutely all the Frenchwomen in this movie are named--Marie (Angela Visser), who thinks herself hideous because she's not fat and homely like the nudes in classical paintings. Their rocky romance compels a despairing Michael to join the tomato-fighting French army, where he finds that a comrade (also played by Steve Lundquist) is in fact the real destined-to-be Louis XVII. The viewer should realize just how adept a team of satirists are on duty here when they cram in a parody of PLATOON within a parody of old WWII newsreels within a parody of Dumas's The Man in the Iron Mask within a killer-tomato spectacle. It's not an easy feat to sustain that level of intricate silliness for a feature running-time, and in the wake of AIRPLANE! many a merry prankster has tried with pathetic results. Among the highlights here are battle scenes filmed using toy soldiers and vehicles so obviously fake that when a tank blows up it drops a huge Duracell battery right next to Michael. The hero also braves Prof. Gangrene's "Basement of Death"--an ordinary, cluttered suburban cellar where forgotten mousetraps, leftover xmas lights, piles of board games and a vibrating washing machine pose nonstop peril in a well-timed slapstick setpiece. But most of KILLER TOMATOES EAT FRANCE! isn't that fresh. The title creatures now feature grimacing animatronic faces and fangs, evidently inspired by the way the killer tomatoes looked in a TV kiddie cartoon version that aired in 1991. The tomatoes can talk but rarely have anything witty to say, and gone is the earlier films' ludicrous image of people running and screaming in mortal terror from inert garden produce. The rule for killer tomatoes seems to be the bigger the duller, although a giant specimen introduced as "The PhanTomato of the Opera" raises a smile. Taking the comedy franchise to France allows beaucoup de jokes based on Gallic stereotypes and culture, but they're out of step with the Hollywood genre gags that seasoned the preceding tomato flicks. As for acting, get real. John Astin, the congenially mad Gomez from TV's "Addams Family," is a master of mordant, deadpan humor that finds little opportunity in this screenplay's frantic mugging. The hunky Lundquist, for the record, is in real life a 1984 Olympic gold medalist with a thriving second career as a tanning-products entrepreneur. His thespic turns in the killer tomato epics don't exactly take the bronze, but the oxenlike Igor is consistently amusing. The best in the cycle to date was probably RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. "To date" must be added since this chapter ends with Gangrene foiled as always, but getting away and vowing another escapade. Naturally KILLER TOMATOES EAT FRANCE! premiered on home video, and a command to rewind the tape after watching is included in the mocking opening credits.