dir. Bert I. Gordon
"It'll be great to be in the country again, and enjoy some of the open spaces that man hasn't screwed up with his technology. My father used to say, 'Morgan, one of these days the earth will get even with man for messing her up with his garbage. Just let man continue to pollute the earth the way he is, and nature will rebel. And it's going to be one hell of a rebellion.' Of course, I never took him seriously."
[Imagine this opening paragraph as spoken by Don LaFontaine] In a world where overworked pro football players need vacations, two sports stars travel to a remote island paradise in search of rest and relaxation. They come here looking for a fun and murder free weekend, but what Morgan and Davis find isn't fun. What they find is danger. Danger in the form of gargantuan killer beasts. What local farm-lady Skinner doesn't realize is that her food, the manna from heaven oozing from the hellish depths beneath her farm-land, is turning all living animals into unstoppable giant murder machines. It's now up to a rag-tag group of survivors: Morgan, Mrs. Skinner, a young man and his pregnant wife, an unsavory businessman and his assistant, and Morgan's PR man to stop these beasts. Stop these beasts before it's too late. Stop them before they eat any more of...The Food of the Gods. The Food of the Gods...From Hell.
Killer animals. Goddamn, it's been too long. As we all know, killer animal movies hold a dear place in my heart. And the only thing better than killer animals is ginormous killer animals. And ginormous killer animals is one thing that Bert I. Gordon's The Food of the Gods does not lack.
Gordon's film was borne of a time when a burgeoning environmental movement was just starting to warn the population of the devastating effects of rampant pollution. Unlike the pansy ass green movement we've got nowadays (one in which people are concerned about global flooding and environmental catastrophes) the proto-environmentalists of the seventies had the balls to tackle the real issues and consequences of environmental rape: giant motherfucking cocksucking killer fucking animals. Back then you coulda got your ass motherfuckin' ended by a six foot cock if you tried to make a fool of mother nature.
[Insert your own "man beats giant cock" joke here. Incidentally, this is the best filmic representation of a giant killer rooster since the Christian themed anti-drug scare movie from 1972 Blood Freak. Don't worry, I will review that movie in due time.]
Although I never read the H. G. Wells novel that this film is based on, I doubt that Wells' book is tinged with the same sort of environmental themes that Gordon's film addresses. [As my grandaddy always used to tell me, "book readin's for sissied-up hippie pussies. If you wanna get your culture on, go to the Broken Household Appliance National Forest down by the Crystal Lake. Pass the scotch."] I would hesitate to call The Food of the Gods a full fledged environmental picture, however. As opposed to a movie like Day of the Animals, the horror here is not a direct result of pollution. No explanation is given as to why the mysterious killer-animal-producing-food oozes up from Mrs. Skinner's farm. The goo, and resulting giant beasts, act more as a form of cosmic mystical karmic retribution--sissied-up hippie pussy shit. Because of such lines as the one quoted at the beginning of this piece, though, it is clear where the filmmakers' sympathies lie. Although they may not have had a firm grasp of the workings of nature or the effects of pollution, they did give it the ol' college try when attacking the subject, thus warning the population in their own charming way. The Food of the Gods is one in a long line of movies that should have ended with an off screen narrator pompously bellowing the line, "You've been warned!"
[Ralph "Mike Hammer" Meeker cowers like a bitch when confronted by oversized plastic wasps.]
The environmental message is not what Gordon's film is remembered for, however. If The Food of the Gods has any sort of legacy, it is as a repository of hilariously archaic special effects. If this film were to be remade (which it no doubt will be someday), state of the art CG effects would be used to render the colossal killer animals. I don't care how lifelike looking CG effects have and will continue to evolve, I will always have a fondness for physical effects. Sure the cheap puppets and green screen work here don't even approach the horror they attempt, but they have a certain charm that the cookie-cutter blandness of CG can't recreate. I also derive a certain amount of pleasure from the fact the actors actually wrestled with actual physical rubber monsters. It lends the proceedings a certain bizarre kind of authenticity. What we see is what the actors actually saw and worked with. And it is evident that all of those involved, particularly Gordon had fun with it. This after all, was Gordon's stock in trade. Something of a B movie legend, Gordon was the master of movies in which things were bigger than they should be (The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, and one of my favorites, Village of the Giants). Every director has to have a niche.
[Mother of mercy, is this the end of Ida Lupino's career?]
More than anything, The Food of the Gods deserves a place in the annals of film history for being a showcase for aging semi-stars. Movie heavy Ralph Meeker plays the aforementioned evil businessman Jack Bensington with delirious glee. Made famous by Kiss Me Deadly, Meeker spent much of the rest of his career working in Television (that is until Tom Verlaine replaced him with Richard Lloyd*). More importantly, The Food of the Gods was aging star/director Ida Lupino's second to last acting gig in a feature film (she played Mrs. Skinner). In her last film, My Boys Are Good Boys, she again worked alongside Ralph Meeker. [Incidentally, I may also cover this movie in a future post. Man, I love dollar store bargain rack dvds.] it is a credit to her professionalism that she tackled her role in this ludicrously laughable movie with the earnest intent of an actor in a high-minded drama. In a career that started with so much promise, both as an actress and a director, Lupino would end it battling huge fucking rats. It is my hope that Meryl Streep will one day end her career in half as awesome a fashion.
*[Wow, this post is chock full o' unnecessarily random references.]
[The Food of the Gods may be responsible for the most unintentionally funny horror trailer of all time:]