The Food of the Gods (1976) - This is the stuff I lived for when I was a kid. Although I have no memory of it I have to imagine I saw this movie as a young teen. Fitting into the environment gone wild films of the 1970's this film is a b-movie pleasure I am glad I can now say I have seen. By no means is this a good film. The premise is flimsy, the effects hilarious in their silliness and the climax not so climatic but still I loved watching this movie.Its really a throw back to the mutant monster films of the 1950s, Them! (1954) and Tarantula (1955) and any other number of films. In those films the culprit was radiation but her it is the food of the Gods, an oozing slime from the ground that when mixed with grain makes for some startling results.
Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) is a star player on a team of ten players, well that is how many guys we see when they are practicing in the establishing scenes. After some hard practice for the big game the coach tells him he should get some rest and relaxation. It has to be one of the lamest establishing scene I have seen. A five on
five drill and then voice over as he is crossing on the ferry to the
island. So he loads up with a couple of his buddies Brian (Jon Cypher) and
Davis, who went ahead (Chuck Courtney) and goes off to an island for
some rest.The film really wastes no time that one scene and then bam we
are ready to go. The premise of the entire film is told to us by Morgan in voice over. He relays that his father said to him, "Morgan one of these days the earth will get even with man for messing her up with his garbage. Just let man pollute the earth the way he is and nature is going to rebel. Its going to be one hell of a rebellion."
Its a wooded island with a ferry like you would see in Washington state or Oregon or Maine and we see the guys out on horses riding with hunting dogs and a scared deer running this way and that. Davis gets out ahead and immediately we start getting the plot. His horse is spooked and throws him. A buzzing sound makes him look up to see some giant wasps. He screams as he is attacked bringing his friends to the scene. The wasps are gone but poor Davis is a bloated venom filled mess. Morgan heads to the nearest house where he sees a barn and enters. A giant (like 8 feet tall) rooster attacks him and he has to fight and kill it with a pitchfork. When he finally meets the woman who lives at the house, Mrs Skinner (Ida Lupino) his great line of "Where the hell did you get those chickens?" is a memorable one. Very quickly we get the full story. There is an ooze coming from the ground, that when mixed with grain became the food that the chickens ate. They grew very large from it. The Skinner's call it "The Food of the Gods"
The couple plan to sell the stuff figuring that the world famines will soon be at an end and they will be rich. Here I believe we the audience are supposed to remember that nature is going to rebel. In fact the main story will be about the consequences of this rebellion. While Mr Skinner (John McLiam) tries to get a deal with businessman Jack Bensington (Ralph Meeker), inviting him and his assistant Lorna Scott (Pamela Franklin) to his place. Brian and Morgan have to deal with the dead body of their friend back on the mainland before returning to let the survival story play out. Added to the eventual crew of potential survivors are the unmarried couple, very pregnant Rita (Belinda Balaski) and boyfriend Thomas (Tom Stovall).
Much of the story from here is interactions with over sized animals, besides the giant chickens, giant maggots, link inch worms about two feet long, Dealing with the giant wasps nest and mostly the giant rats, dozens of giant rats. The modelling for the animal interactions with humans is pretty flimsy but this is not a great movie so what do you expect. The rats swarming over the little model RV that Thomas and Rita own is just one of the scenes. The Skinners farmhouse is strangely small when compared to the rats. Then when the cast does hand to hand with them the rats seem a bit smaller. Scale it seemed was hard to do.
While Bensington wants to save the slimy stuff and flee the island it is obvious that this will not happen. He plays the heal that we don't feel empathy for because he is greedy and selfish. Thomas and Rita provide social commentary on out of wedlock marriage. Lorna is the love interest for Morgan our hero, leaving poor the poor Skinners and Brian odd people out. There are elaborate plans to try to fence off the rats but that was destined for failure so in the end there is a lot of Morgan racing around in his jeep before the final sequence and the last survivors are revealed. The special effects of the end of this movie are ridiculously campy and certainly this is not a good movie. It still was a lot of fun to watch and laugh at though. The warning to the world ending is exceptional.
Writer and director Bert I. Gordon who made monster movies as far back as the late 1950s has done it again. He has a group of veteran actors who know how to get the job done. The effects are lousy but, when all is said and done I am recommending this film as campy fun. Not a good film but a silly time you and your friends can sit around laughing at.
Rating (5.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.