The Food of the Gods

"Terrible"

The Food of the Gods Review


Writer/director Bert I. Gordon's adaptation of The Food of the Gods claims to be based on "a portion" of the eponymous H.G. Wells novel. Apparently he meant the portion that sucks. At least eight of Gordon's films have been lampooned on bad-movie-graveyard Mystery Science Theater 3000. That this one never made it can only be a matter of the show having been cancelled before they could get to it.

The film begins, improbably enough, with way-too-old-to-be-playing-football professional athlete Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) deciding to take a break with another unbelievably old player, Davis (Chuck Courtney) and their promoter Brian (Jon Cypher). They head off to a remote island to hunt deer on horseback, because that's how football players unwind.

Alone in the woods, Davis is killed by gigantic wasps, which resemble nothing so much as big pieces of crumpled up paper held in front of the screen. When Morgan and Brian find the body, Morgan runs to a local farm for help, only to find, and I am not making this up, a roost of giant chickens.

It's easy to fault the inexpensive, pre-CGI era in which this film was made for its poor special effects. But no matter how good the effects, a man fighting a giant rooster will always be one thing -- hilarious.

Sadly, the rest of the film is not nearly as entertaining. Morgan confronts the farmer's wife, Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino) and discovers that she's been feeding the birds a porridge-like substance that's been bubbling out of the ground. It seems that other animals, including maggots, wasps and rats, have also gotten into their stock, which has been placed in jars cleverly labeled "F.O.T.G." The rest of the film consists of fighting said animals, mostly the rats.

Even if Food of the Gods set out to do nothing more than present a good, old-fashioned slugfest between man and Rodents of Unusual Size, that might at least be a pleasant way to pass a lazy afternoon. But the film is completely lifeless, taking no joy in its ridiculous premise nor being able to muster the gravity to take it seriously.

Gordon's adaptation is certainly the first culprit, containing some of the most ham-fisted (though occasionally sidesplitting) dialogue ("Hey, look lady, I've already seen your chickens!") and some of the most mind-bogglingly idiotic behavior from a genre known for mind-bogglingly idiotic behavior. When a man, who has already said he will wait in his broken trailer until it's safe, hears scratching on the roof, he goes outside, sees that it's a giant rat and then tells his pregnant wife to come outside and look so they can both watch as the rats crawl in through the door he left open.

The characters are, unsurprisingly, flat. How stereotypical are they? There's a copy of "American Gothic" hanging in the farmhouse living room. They also make about as much sense as the script. Lorna (Pamela Franklin), a scientist brought in to investigate the gloop, turns to our hero in the midst of a gigantic rodent siege and declares, rather dully, that she wants to get it on.

It would be easy to blame the general crappiness of Food of the Gods on its truly disastrous special effects (mostly of the "put a normal sized rat next to a toy car" variety), but even those could be excused if there was even a hint of irony, fun, thrills, imagination, or anything else approaching entertainment throughout. As it is, it's like trying to watch a Mystery Science Theater film without Crow, Tom Servo, and Joel to make the experience tolerable.



The Food of the Gods

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th June 1976

Distributed by: MGM

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 4.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Producer: Bert I. Gordon

Starring: Marjoe Gortner as Morgan, as Lorna, as Bensington, Jon Cypher as Brian, as Mrs. Skinner, as Rita, as Mr. Skinner

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