Food of the Gods – DVD Review

DVD available at Amazon.com

Director:
Bert I. Gordon

Cast:
Marjoe Gortner….Morgan
Pamela Franklin….Lorna Scott
Ralph Meeker….Jack Bensington
Jon Cypher….Brian
Ida Lupino…Mrs. Skinner

MGM & Fox Home Entertainment present Food of the Gods. Screenplay by Bert I. Gordon. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated PG. Theatrical release: June 18, 1976. DVD released Sept. 11, 2007.

The Movie

Bert I. Gordon is a name that sets off joyful alarms for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Many consider him a low budget Ray Harryhausen with his special effects heavy movies. But Bert’s more of a shoestring version of Jack Arnold, the legendary Sci-Fi helmer at Universal. His Earth Vs. The Spider seems inspired by Arnold’s Tarantula.

Wanting more than the solo act featured in Arnold’s Incredible Shrinking Man, Bert created Attack of the Puppet People. Bert didn’t just want to reduce his subjects; he took pleasure in making them huge. The Amazing Colossal Man and War of the Colossal Beast had a military man grow humongous after being exposed to a nuclear test. Bert’s favorite version of how things grow is found in H.G. Wells’ Food of the Gods. He first gave his audience a taste in Village of the Giants. Restless teenagers become super-sized and torment their humdrum town. Nearly a decade later, Bert finally directed his dream title. While Bert has accumulated numerous nicknames including Mr. BIG, Food of the Gods makes him the Father of the Sci-Fi Channel Originals.

A football player (Marjoe Gortner) and two buddies mount up their horses for a deer hunt on a remote island in British Columbia. They get successful in tracking down Bambi. Instead of having venison dinner, Marjoe lets the deer run free. He prefers pursuit to slaughter. The trip goes bad when one of their party gets stung by a wasp. This is not an ordinary wasp. It’s the size of Gary Coleman. The wasp’s stinger pumps the guy so full of poison that he’s dead meat before Marjoe can get him medical attention. At a nearby farm that’s owned by Hollywood legend Ida Lupino, Marjoe tussles with chickens the size of VW Beetles. He discovers the secret of the chicken growth is an ooze coming from the ground that’s called “Food of the Gods.” Lupino’s husband has gone to the big city to sell the secret. Marjoe and the surviving pal return to town, but their buddy’s death bothers them too much. They get back on the ferry to get proof of what killed him.

During their time off the island, a few more critters sample the Food of the Gods. Worms get a nibble and attempt to suck Lupino dry. Rats can’t get enough of the slop. Lupino’s husband’s car is attacked by the rats. They eat him alive! Bert’s early films were rather tame when it came to violence. The rat attack gets brutal as they tear the husband and his VW Beetle apart. Bert adapted to 70s animal gore with tons of blood and dismembered limbs. Bert isn’t trying to pawn off 50s drive in faux violence.

Marjoe and his buddy discover that leaving the island won’t be as easy since they now face a rat army. Adding extra tension to the plot, there’s a young couple camping out in a Winnebago. The wife is about to give birth in the midst of the rat attack. Who takes their 9-month pregnant wife into the middle of the woods? Sounds like her husband was pulling a Scott Peterson. Would you believe a guy on Fox News declaring that his pregnant wife was eaten by huge rats? We barely believed a dingo once ate a baby. Luckily, he has Marjoe to rescue his family from the rats.

For those squeamish about cruelty to vermin, be warned that possibly Bert didn’t treat his rats to Humane Society standards. When Marjoe unloads a shotgun, it appears the “giant” rats have been blasted for real. There’s fur and blood flying across the screen. Is this wrong? What’s the point of working out extensive makeup effects for the rats when you can just shoot them? It seems like they drowned several of them. Can rats really do that good of a job faking death?

The effects aren’t completely cheesy for a low budget film in the 70s. Nowadays they’d go CGI and we’d be stuck with probably half the number of rats on the screen. There’s a charm in having real rats attacking a Winnebago model. Marjoe Gortner’s the perfect hero for the film. He doesn’t over act the critters. His eyes don’t betray the fact that he’s merely wrestling with a fake rat head. If you haven’t had a chance, rent Marjoe, an Oscar-winning documentary that details his career as an evangelist. After watching way too many lame Sci-Fi Channel original films about giant monsters rampaging the countryside; Food of the Gods reminds us that a mega-creature film can be completely enjoyable without making us overcome our gag reflex. Marjoe needs to tackle Mansquito.

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks exceptional for a 31 year old Drive-In staple.

AUDIO:
The soundtrack is in mono and stereo. There’s also dubs in French and Spanish. You get a good sense of those rat growls without pumping up the volume. The subtitles are in English and Spanish.

EXTRAS:
None. There’s not even a “Where Are They Now” segment dealing with the various rats.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Food of the Gods
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

0
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
Don’t watch this if you can’t take rat abuse.

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