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Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Food of the Gods (1976)

I need to review more Bert I. Gordon flicks for the site and this is one of my favorites. I remember more than one Friday night spent staying up late to watch this on my local horror hosted movie show. It was a staple.

The opening credits roll around a football field were a team is practicing for the upcoming big game. Our main character, Morgan, tells us in a voiceover that they are given a couple of days off and decide to go hunting on a nearby wooded island. One of them is killed, we know by giant wasps, but the characters don’t. This leads to Morgan running into a lady at a nearby farm when looking for help. After taking their friend back to the mainland Morgan and the other hunter return to the island knowing that they need to take care of the problem themselves.

Here is where things start to get good. In addition to the men returning, we are also introduced to a businessman and a scientist that have come to cash in on the discovery made by the farmer. See there is something bubbling out of the ground that when mixed with feed will cause animals to grow to enormous size. We also meet up with a pregnant woman and her boyfriend who are stranded in their RV. Now that the characters are back on the island they must deal with rats, giant rats that are feeling a bit peckish. That means that the characters are now on the menu! Stuff happens, which I’ll not spoil here, before it all ends… or does it?

Director/Writer Bert I. Gordon knows how to make a movie like this. He spends little time introducing characters but instead sets up the MacGuffin that is causing all the giant critters and then gets to them right away! There is no mystery here as right away we know giant wasps are buzzing about, even if the characters don’t. But then Morgan runs into giant chickens right away and sees a regular sized wasp munching away on some chicken feed. Hell, Mrs. Skinner even points out the rat holes showing us that they also have gotten into the super food! We know what is coming and it comes quickly with lots of mayhem and oversized critters. This makes for a movie that not only is a blast, but also doesn’t allow you to overthink what you are watching.

The wasps, chickens, worms/maggots (awesomely gross), and rats are brought to the screen with all of Gordon’s old school tricks. You have regular sized animals crawling over miniature sets to set the scale. This model work is well done, especially the Winnebago. There are also some crude in camera bits to bring the wasps attacking the characters that I admittedly wasn’t too impressed with. But my personal favorite gag was how they use puppets and latex to have the monsters interreact on camera with the cast. That is some classic stuff and while not giant rabbit attacking in Night of the Lepus it still made me smile.

Got to burn them!
The cast is solid with Marjoe Gortner starring as our main character Morgan. The guy showed up in so many seventies movies that while you may not recognize you know who he is. We also get some classic star power with Ralph Meeker and Ida Lupino. The latter who was in The Devil’s Rain the year before. Lastly the lovely Pamela Franklin is Lorna, Morgan’s love interest, who also appeared in one of my favorites The Legend of Hell House. Gordon knew how to assemble a cast, and this is one of his better ones.

Sure, Food of the Gods is a bit silly. But that is what you should expect from a Bert I. Gordon flick. Giant sized creatures running around killing folks before getting killed off in the final act. This is a formula, and it works especially well here. If you are looking for a monster movie, then you can do a whole lot worse than this one. Give it a chance.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

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