Film Review - Food of the Gods

Starring - Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin, Ralph Meeker, Jon Cypher | Directed by Bert I. Gordon | MGM DVD WS PG 88min 1976

Review By Juliet

Morgan and his football teammates are gearing up for a big game. Their coach suggests they relax a bit so Morgan, Davis and Brian decide to go on vacation to a remote island. A weekend of fun quickly turns deadly when Dave is attacked and killed by a giant insect in the woods. As Morgan goes to get help, he happens upon a strange farm that's home to a coop of giant chickens. The woman who owns the farm, Mrs. Skinner, claims that the animals are large as the result of a strange substance, the Food of the Gods, that comes from the earth, which the locals are using as a supplement in their animals' food. Morgan returns to the city, but in the meantime two people are attacked, one by giant rats and Mrs. Skinner by giant worms. Jack and Lorna arrive on the island to investigate an offer from Mr. Skinner, but they instead find the giant animals. Morgan and Brian arrive just in time to save everyone from a giant swarm of wasps, but there are bigger problems to worry about, giant rats. The group is joined by a pregnant young woman and her boyfriend who were also vacationing on the island. Together they must outsmart an island full of giant rats who are ready to chew through anything in their path.

First thing's first, I should establish the way they did the special effects for this film. In shots where the rats were up close attacking people, they were giant puppets. However, in all other scenes, the rats were actual rats shot against miniatures to make them look gigantic. These shots were awesome, especially the one where the rats were attacking the VW Bug. The whole idea of the rats being the villains is kind of hilarious because they're are SO FLIPPING CUTE with their little twitchy noses. Now of course, if rodents creep you out, then this movie will make your skin crawl. Likewise your opinion on rodents will determine who you cheer for. It's not to say that the humans aren't likeable because by and large they are. Even Ralph Meeker (who I adored in Kiss Me Deadly as Mike Hammer), whose character is a jerk hands in a good performance that makes you love to hate Jack.

Rat effects aside, this film is shot pretty well. For taking place mostly in the woods and a dark cabin, the lighting is well done and there are some nice angles. The high quality of the transfer really helps add the visual appeal. This is the kind of film that would be okay to watch if it were badly lit and shot on a grainy transfer, but the fact that all of these thing are done well makes it really enjoyable as a whole, not just the sum of dozens of cute rats running around.

Speaking of the rats, I can't deny camp value of this film. However, the story, based on the writings of H.G. Wells is actually pretty interesting. It's one of those movies that would be hilarious to watch with a big group (hint, hint Horrorama Dudes), but is worth checking out in a solo setting because it's a good horror/sci-fi story.

I watched the MGM Midnite Movies edition on DVD. It sadly didn't feature any extras, but I'm pleased enough with the film transfer quality that I suppose I can forgive them. It still would have been really cool to have a featurette on the creating the miniature sets for the rats and working so extensively with animals for the shoot.

This is a really fun, campy film that's sure to entertain a large group or a few friends on an idle Saturday. It's worth picking up on DVD as a cheap buy or a rental.