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Marjoe Gortner (Morgan), Pamela Franklin (Lorna), Ralph Meeker (Bensington), Jon Cypher (Brian), Ida Lupino (Mrs. Skinner), Belinda Balaski (Rita)
Directed by Bert I. Gordon
A gooey substance found erupting from the Earth by some farmers on a small Canadian island causes enormous growth in their chickens after its mixed in with chicken feed. The thick milky matter is later ingested by other creatures including wasps and worms. Soon, hordes of rats grow to gigantic proportions and devour a number of the inhabitants. A small band of survivors hole up within a cabin besieged by the ravenous rats.
Ida Lupino (top middle) shows where she found the FOOD OF THE GODS
Bert I. Gordon made a seemingly very successful career out of directing movies about giant monsters. He was about as prolific as the propagating creatures found in his films. Beginning with KING DINOSAUR in 1955, Gordon utilized macro enlarged lizards to populate the barren landscape of Nova, a newly discovered planet investigated by scientists sent to explore it. From there he went on to giant locusts in one of his best loved bad movies with BEGINNING OF THE END (1957), starring the late Peter Graves. THE CYCLOPS (1957) about a giant one eyed monster and more macro enlarged lizards masquerading as dinosaurs.
Gordon continued his 'BIG' movies with THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957) and its sequel, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958). He also dabbled with "little people" with ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE in 1958. Mr. B.I.G. went big again with the entertaining EARTH VS. THE SPIDER (1958) and the abysmal VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS in 1965. Gordon then went on a hiatus from giant creature features until 1976 rolled around leading into this laughably bad throwback to his woefully entertaining monster movies of yesteryear.
Trapped underground in the lair of the rats
FOOD OF THE GODS, unlike Gordon's EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977), borrows a bit more from Wells' original story. Whereas his story had science create the growth serum, the movie has it emerge from the Earth. The giant fowl are the focus in Wells' story while the rats take up the bulk of the screen time in the movie version. People also ingest the foodstuff in the book and the films ending threatens this. The 'late-to-the-party' sequel from 1989 explored this aspect by concluding with a gigantic young boy running wild. Gordon also surveyed Wells' tale in his goofy comedy sci fi flick, VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS (1965) which co-starred a young Ron Howard.
Gortner (left) gets his hands on a big rubber wasp
Former evangelist and faith healer, Marjoe Gortner really gets into his role as the football player, Morgan. He doesn't do a whole lot of "acting" during the dialog scenes, but when it comes to battling the beasts, Gortner showcases a lot of verve. Whether he's electrocuting or shotgunning the various outsized creatures, Gortner comes to life. The rest can't be said for the rest of the cast. Everyone else merely goes through the motions performing the required screaming and running when the creatures are onscreen often times seeming indifferent or embarrassed about the whole thing.
It's all a laughable mess, really. It seems to be the more popular of Gordon's double dose creature feature 70's revival, the other being EMPIRE OF THE ANTS released the following year. Despite its large following, it doesn't seem to have been a huge hit during its release. FOTG must have been big business in Japan, though, considering the lavish box set the film received there. Still, the film has more than its fair share of hilarious and cringe-worthy sequences.
The attack by the giant chicken (the sound of that is funny in itself, but MYSTERIOUS ISLAND from 1961 pulled it off nicely) is one for the books and Ida Lupino's arm being gnawed by enormous worms is rather grim. The numerous rat attacks are violent pushing the PG rating about as far as it will go. Also, the shots of the rats being blasted by rifle fire are a bit disturbing. The creatures are obviously being hit with something, whether it's fake or otherwise is unknown to me. There is no ASPCA credit during the ending crawl.
Gordon is less successful in the pacing department here than he was in his follow up. I was honestly just a slight bit disappointed upon finally seeing this movie for the first time when it hit DVD a few years ago. After family members and fans somewhat raved about it, it wasn't quite as "memorable" (although it's certainly more ambitious) as Gordon's giant ant non-epic, which got heavy rotation on television during the 80's and 90's.
I do recall getting a hold of the Famous Monsters of Filmland (I have since gotten two or three of them) issue from back then which featured a cover spread on the film as well as seeing it listed in the TV Guide from time to time. For whatever reason, I was unable to see it at that time.
No doubt fans of 'Nature Gone Wild' movies will surely want this in their collection. It would make a grand double bill DVD show for trash fan get togethers with its sister release from the following year. With FOOD OF THE GODS, Bert I. Gordon showed he still "had it"...even if "It" hadn't changed one damn bit since his Golden Age heyday.
This review is representative of the MGM Midnite Movies DVD.
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I've been a huge movie buff since childhood catching old horror and monster flicks on Shock Theater and kung fu movies at the drive-in during the late 70's and early 80's. I've had a long time fascination with, and appreciate all genres of fantastic cinema, good and bad. One fans cheese is another fans juicy steak. I like both equally and seldom find a film I truly dislike as I will find something of interest in just about anything. The bulk of the films or tv series' seen here are mostly from my childhood, or films I own in what has become an Amazing Colossal DVD collection.