Food Of The Gods (1976) came out a year before Empire Of The Ants, but I have more memories of the latter (as I chronicled in that review) than the former. The only thing I remember of Gods is the TV commercial, and not all of it either, only one scene. In the movie the humans are set upon by giant wasps. Not GIANT wasps either, these are about a foot long, and there’s this quick shot of one of them landing on this guy’s back and this other guy quickly grabbing it off and mangling it between his hands. Through my child’s perception what I thought I saw was a giant deer fly landing on that guy’s back. I remember getting really excited about the movie too, but then again I would get excited about any new movie about giant insects. I remember thinking, ‘wow, the effects for that giant deer fly was incredibly realistic!’. And that’s it. That’s the only memory I have of Food Of The Gods. I don’t even have a memory of when I first saw it either, but I do have a memory of catching it on cable back in the early 2000s, recording it and watching it the next day. But I didn’t much care for it. So, tonight’s viewing will be a re-evaluation #2.
Even though Food Of The Gods has giant wasps, caterpillars and chickens it primarily falls into the giant killer rat category and seeing how director Bert I. Gordon decided to format the FX for them, superimposing real rats into the movie, this is why I don’t care for it. When the humans need to shoot them with their guns, someone off screen literally shot them with a gun, so you’re seeing real rats maimed and killed on film. Simply put that’s not how I swing, man. I don’t like animal violence in flicks. (Note: Filmmaker Steve Sessions told me on Facebook he believes they were shot at high velocity with blood bags. Whatever they were shot with, I didn’t like seeing it).
Marjoe Gortner, whom I will forever remember from, Mausoleum (1983), plays football jock, Morgan. He and his buddy PR guy for the team, Brian (John Cypher), and one other guy, decide to head out to this island for a brief getaway before this big game of theirs. Hunting is what they do and while chasing down a buck this other guy, the one whose name I can’t recall, is stung to death by giant wasps, but Morgan and Brian don’t know this. All they know is his body is all swollen up and dead.
Heading off to get help, Morgan stumbles upon a farm owned by a Mister and Misses Skinner (John Mclaim/Ida Lupino). The husband is off taking care of “special business” in town while the wife is home fretting about rat holes in her house, but that’s not that half of it. Morgan ventured into a barn and was attacked by giant chickens. Talking to Mrs. Skinner reveals how they got that way. Some strange oatmeal looking substance has been oozing out of the ground and for reasons unknown the two decided to mix it with feed and give it to their chickens. Wasps fed on it too and so did the rats.
Coming to visit Skinner is Jack Bensington (Ralph Meeker) and Lorna (Pamela Franklin). Bensington wants to market the substance and Lorna is a bacteriologist tasked with testing it. Also thrown into the mix is expectant couple, Thomas and Rita (Tom Stoval/Belinda Balaski). All of them hole up in Skinner’s house as the rats finally strike.
Like what Gordon did in his next H.G. Wells adaptation a year later, Empire Of The Ants, he augmented the superimposed real rats with giant rat puppet heads that worked better for me. And oddly the puppet heads kind of resembled giant gerbils.
This was Pamela Franklin’s last film, she still acted in select TV series for a few years afterwards, but she retired herself from movie roles after this, and if you want to know more about her career you need to buy Scream Factory’s Legend Of Hell House (1973), which she did a commentary for. It’s in that commentary where she talked about her disillusionment of the film business on Food Of The Gods.
Believe it or not there was a sequel made in 1989 called, Gnaw, Food Of The Goods 2. I never saw it, and would still like to. I remember Fangoria covering it in one of their issues. I don’t believe it has any connection though to Gordon’s flick.
The second film included is another lackluster nature run amok flick called, Frogs (1972). I don’t have much if any memory of seeing it when I was kid, just that I did, and again was not all that impressed by it. I have not seen it since then and now that I have, yeah, it still does nothing for me.
Set in Florida this ‘mother nature kills all’ flick is about frogs (the good guys) getting fed up with us humans (the bad guys), specifically this family of one-percenters (of course, the term ‘one-percenters’ wasn’t around in ’72, I believe the more correct term back then was ‘greedy ass motherfuckers’), so, anyway, the movie is about this family of greedy ass motherfuckers ruled over by in-his-golden years, Jason Crockett (Ray Milland). He and all his spawn, their significant others and their welps have all gathered together this July weekend, as they always do, to celebrate his birthday.
Where their house is situated on this island poses some problems, namely the local wildlife. The frogs are loud as all hell at night and more than plentiful in numbers. The kids love ‘em, what kid doesn’t like finding an immense frog in the woods, but some of the grown-ups hate them. Crockett has a hired hand go off with a canister of pesticide and basically throw gasoline on an already out of control fire.
Enter Pickett Smith (Sam Elliot the youngest I’ve ever seen him in a movie), that’s a hell of a name, too. Pickett, not Sam, I mean. He’s a wildlife photographer working on an article down near the island, taking pictures of the garbage we humans pollute the great lakes and oceans and whatever other mass of water we can find with. He gets mixed up with these greedy ass motherfuckers when one of Crocket’s sons, Clint (Adam Roarke), drinking and racing his boat with his sister, Karen (Joan Van Ark), almost plows into Pickett’s canoe. They want to make amends and so invite him to the island. From here on out it’s a free for all as not just frogs, but insects, spiders and reptiles come together to take out almost all the family members one by one as they go off alone.
It’s clear Pickett’s got a boner for Karen but is it enough to save them both from the masterful tacticians, the Frogs? Yes and no. The movie doesn’t really reveal if Pickett and Karen ultimately survive. Technically, yes, I they did, but there is that question mark after they reach civilization. Meanwhile, Crockett faces down the frogs in his mansion by himself and—loses!
Video/Audio/Subtitle (Frogs): 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only
The transfers on both of these looked great. Audio was good too.
Extras for Food Of The Goods include…
- Audio commentary with Bert I. Gordon moderated by Kevin Sean Michaels
- Rita And The Rats With Belinda Beliski (11:36)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Radio Spot
- Still Gallery
Extras for Frogs include…
- Buried in Frogs With Joan Van Ark (10:08)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Radio Spot
- Still Gallery
These are easily my least favorites of any memory movie I’ve seen, hence the short review, but I needed to re-evaluate them just on the off chance my tastes had changed. They hadn’t. On to the next. . .