Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Food of the Gods (1976)

Writer/director Bert I. Gordon, an inexplicably durable special-effects guru whose big claim to fame is having made campy Cold War-era junk along the lines of The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), hit a strange sort of career high with The Food of the Gods, a wretched riff on an H.G. Wells novel bearing the more florid title The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth. Mostly dispatching with tricky stuff like the whole “how it came to Earth” part, Gordon focuses on the idea of mysterious grub that causes creatures to grow to monstrous proportions. You know the flick’s in trouble when the first overgrown critters Gordon puts onscreen are giant chickens. Making things even weirder, in some shots the feathered fiends are portrayed by actors wearing oversized chicken masks. And while you’d think the bit with the giant rats would at least be creepy, by that point Gordon has sunk to using shots of real-life rats interacting with scaled-down props like a tiny VW Beetle. So if viewers can’t even relish the grotesquery of giant rats eating people without getting distracted by shoddy FX, then what’s the point of sitting through this abomination? Some fleeting distraction from the ridiculousness is offered by the verdant British Columbia locations, but it’s as depressing to watch studio-era great Ida Lupino slum her way through this tripe as it is to that realize leading man Marjoe Gortner is starring in exactly the level of movie his talent merits. If you’re the sort of viewer who enjoys watching awful movies and discovering unintentional laughs, feel free to take a bite of The Food of the Gods, but if doing so triggers your gag reflex instead of tickling your funny bone, don’t say you weren’t warned.

The Food of the Gods: SQUARE

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I saw this once - at the drive-in on its initial release - and it kind of bummed me out; I hoped it would be a lot more fun. It IS somehow an overall depressing movie and I am a big Bert I Gordon apologist. I do think you are a bit too harsh in your review though- making it sound as if Bert and his team intentionally set out to make a film that makes the audience angry instead of entertained. I don't know [It's hard to make a movie - and when ambition is greater than your resources, well I say try anyway.] The story-telling choices they made seemed to be too dreary, too somber - taking this story so seriously, ultimately worked against it. Mr.Gordon would always have done better if he had a wink in his eye as he told his stories of gigantism; perhaps mix thrills with mirth. There isn't an OUNCE of humor in his film-making style, and it hurts him time and again. Movies like this should be fun - but dang, the depressing aspects of this go way beyond the sad sight of Ida AND Ralph Meeker making a living in this. I seem to remember Ida wrestling with a meal worm the size of a ferret. Yucch. In defense of the chickens, they are the one element Bert actually retained from the source novel.