aka H.G. Wells’ The Food Of The Gods
88 min., 1976
Written by Bert I. Gordon
Directed by Bert I. Gordon
My rating: ★★★
A surprisingly good movie that (mostly) is still effective.
* * *
Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) and his two friends Davis (Chuck Courtney) and Brian (Jon Cypher) are taking a break from playing football (well Brian doesn’t actually play because he is more of the publicity man) and decide to go to a nearby island for some hunting. While there Davis breaks from the other two and is attacked by some giant hornets and by the time Morgan gets there Davis is already dead. Morgan runs to the nearest house to call for help. Once there he looks inside the barn (?) where he is attacked by a giant rooster. He barely makes it out alive and goes to the house. The house is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Skinner (John McLiam and Ida Lupino), but Mr. Skinner is out and Mrs. Skinner doesn’t really seem like she wants to help very much. With no other options Morgan just takes the body back to the mainland. We next see a car driving pretty fast towards the same house. In the car is business man (and total dick) Jack Bensington and his assistant (kinda) Lorna (Pamela Franklin). They get to the house and we learn from Mrs. Skinner about the Food Of The Gods. They found it bubbling from the ground and after learning that it wasn’t oil they decided to feed it to their chickens who started to grow to crazy size (well only the chicks did and the adults weren’t affected). We then learn that the biggest problem is that rats have gotten into the FOTG and they are wreaking havoc. With Jack wanting the FOTG for himself and the oversized rats running wild, can Morgan, Brian, Lorna and Mrs. Skinner survive long enough to get off the island?
The acting is the biggest flaw of the movie. Most of the actors are really hammy or just come off as…well acting. None of them are very believable and as the movie goes on you really don’t care if any of them actually survive. Now Pamela Franklin is pretty good at times, but during the most crucial scenes she just falls completely flat. Marjoe Gortner is another that does a decent job, but he has a habit of dropping the ball way too much. The only one that really pulls off their role is Ralph Meeker. His portrayal of the money hungry dickhead is pretty darn flawless. He knows that he’s a dick and he really doesn’t give a shit. He realizes that the Food Of The Gods can make him extremely rich and even when the rats start to attack he only has dollar signs in his eyes and tries to collect the FOTG.
Now the effects of the movie range from completely atrocious to superb. The hornets are the worst of the bunch, being so bad that you can’t even tell that they are hornets until they actually tell you. Another one of the terrible effects is when they destroy the dam. The water comes flowing out and holy shit it looks pathetic, it’s something you really need to see to believe. On the other side we have the other giant animal effects. The giant rooster looks beautiful and the worms/maggots look perfect. The biggest surprise to me was the giant rats. When they first start attacking Mr. Skinner in his car, I was expecting some really terrible puppets, but when they burst through the window and it’s actually a full-sized rat head I was taken aback. They do look a little cheesy by today’s standards, but they still work with full effect. If you can get over the terrible hornets you can really enjoy the effects.
In the end this is still a really good movie. The effects (for the most part) are still great and the storyline about the Earth fighting back is just a great one that can be told a million times and really won’t get old, and then you have Ralph Meeker who plays one of the best dicks to grace the screen. But then you get the really bad effects and the rest of the cast who just can’t keep it together. It’s a mixed bag and there will be times where you are just yelling at the screen for the poor acting, but then you will be cheering for the effects. I liked it and would suggest to quite a few people, but just be cautious when you watch it.Have You Read...?