Film Review - Gnaw: Food of the Gods II

Starring - Paul Coufos, Lisa Schrage | Directed by - Damian Lee | Artisan DVD FS R 90min 1989

Review By Juliet

A prominent university scientist is targeted by a student animal rights group for the experiments he does on chimps, rats, dogs and other furry creatures. Another scientist, Neil goes to meet a colleague whose use of an experimental growth hormone has gone horribly wrong resulting in a gigantic little boy (think Honey I Blew Up the Kid). Neil agrees to help find an antidote for the growth hormone, but as a botanist, only wants to test on plants. But when his assistant brings in some rats from the biology department, they eat the contaminated plants and begin to display strange behavior starting with an attack on the animal rights group after they break into Neil's lab. The rats get away, and a team of exterminators is called in. The surviving protestors plan on storming the science building while Neil works to find a cure with his girlfriend Alex, who happens to also be an animal rights activist (oh, and a student). In the meantime, the rats are killing off innocent people one by one. Neil's assistant suggests they inject a female rat in heat with the growth hormone and use her to track the male rats. Neil and Alex track the rats through the tunnels before the rodents crash the grand opening of the pool at the university's new sports complex. Will Neil and Alex defeat the evil rats while protecting the female rat (Neil's beloved pet)? And what about the gigantic little boy from the beginning? Watch and see.

With a title like Gnaw this has got to be good, right? Well maybe not so much. The beginning of this film could be called When Good Scientists Go Bad and drags along for nearly 20 minutes before any real rat action occurs. We are treated to a fantastically cheesy science montage early on, which brings me to the topic of the music. The majority of the music is appropriate horror film scoring, but there are a few pieces that are monumentally cheesy. If I stop paying attention to the movie because I'm thinking about how terrible the song is, there's a problem. This brings me to the general silliness of this film. Now, I'm not saying that the first film didn't have some endearingly cheesy qualities, in particular the rat effects, but ultimately the film as a whole made the effects very forgivable. The problem with this film is that it can't seem to decide what it wants to be: is it a straight horror film, a commentary on science vs animals rights or the politics of higher learning, a drama about a scientist pushed to the brink of his ethics or a parade of weird side characters. The other disappointing thing is that while the gore effects are very well done for the late 80s, the film lacks the rat mob scenes that made the first film so charming. I would have gladly traded the gore for more rat screen time, and speaking of rats, the white rat was my favorite character in the film. No joke, I liked her better than the people. It's not that actors were bad, it's just that she was the most likeable character in the film. That really sums up this entire film - by and large, it's not bad, you just have stretch to find something really likeable.

The DVD print looks good although I'm not a fan of the full frame release. The cover is strange only because of the red eyes on the rats that make them look like Halloween toys.

This film is not great, but it's not a waste of time either. It's a fun, tolerable watch that's good for a group viewing especially when paired with the first film. It's worth checking out, just don't spend a lot of money to do so.