THE FOOD OF THE GODS
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
Bert I. Gordon
What's it about
When a couple of football players take a vacation to a remote island, they are attacked by some pretty frickin' huge wasps. They soon discover that some local hicks are feeding a substance oozing out the ground to their livestock with gigantic results. But maggots and rats have also been sampling this "Food of the Gods", and now the island is covered with hordes of car sized rats just itching to chew on some people snacks! It's time for a giant creature feature from the master Bert I. Gordon! My god, the 70's were twisted! And it's all good!
Is it good movie?
If you're a lover of low budget giant creature movies, cheesy effects, and misty Canadian locations, then this 1976 muchfest is for you. Written and directed by Bert I. Gordon (creator of other giant flicks like The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs. the Spider, Village of the Giants and Empire of the Ants) and based on a portion of H.G. Wells novel of the same name, The Food Of The Gods is one hell of a treat from the era of midnight drive-in double features. Continuing the trend that Gordon had towards low budget sci-fi movies, this movie does feature some great locations, some passable acting, and some pretty nifty creature effects.
Don't get me wrong, Gordon's beasties are not high on the technical scale like those of Ray Harryhausen, but they get the job done. Using a generous mix of giant puppet rat heads, rear projection and forced perspective, and finally a host of real rats swarming over miniatures of the locations, Gordon brings Wells' nightmare island of wacky biology to cheesy techicolor life. Sure you can spot most of the split screen shots, and the puppet heads are limited in their effectiveness, but since this was a low budget monster fest, who cares! Part of the movie's charm is in the effects goofs. The rest of it's charm is watching the hilarious slow motion shooting of the rats. I still don;t know how they did that, but it was hilarious and disturbing all at the same time.
Both screen veterans Marjoe Gortner and Jon Cypher do their jobs well, but the standout here is Ida Lupino (in one of her last screen roles) as the delusional farm wife whose been growing giant chickens and making the "food of the gods" edible for other creatures to sample. That woman is seriously creepy. Also keep an eye out for the incomparable Ralph Meeker (a veteran of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Police Story) as an enterprising businessman looking to cash in on the oozy stuff. Aside from the acting, the locations play a large part in this flick, which was filmed with a misty dreamy style most often seen in romance movies or wilderness adventures. The wooded environment of Vancouver Island are gorgeous, and the isolation they create really serves the story well.
Entertaining and fun, with enough squirm moments for anyone with a rat phobia, this classic Midnite Movie from MGM is nicely done on DVD. Can't wait to see the rest of this series! Maybe MGM will wise up and start putting more features on their releases of classic schlock and horror? I doubt it, but oh well...
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Stereo and Mono), Spanish and French (Mono) and subtitles in English and Spanish.
None, and I for one would have liked to see how the accomplished some of the creature effects. Forced perspective, real rats on miniatures, puppet rat heads. And I also would have loved to see how they did the controversial rat shooting scenes (hilarious stuff but possibly a cause for concern, much like the animal torture in Cannibal Holocaust....but still, some funny shite!)
Giant creature movies are a love or hate sub-genre of sct-fi and horror movies. While not one of the best or most technically sophisticated, The Food Of The Gods is a fun and cheesy romp that doesn't disappoint when it comes to huge beasts, people eating, and a wicked flood scene that, despite being cheesy as hell, has to be seen to be believed. Any monster movie that makes me squirm and laugh out loud is alright in my book. Oh, and if you've got a fear of rats, avoid this movie! Every other monster fan, go and find it!