Food of the Gods
A group of people get trapped in an isolated farm house by giant wasps, roosters, grubs and rats.
Spoiler Level: Moderate
Morgan (Marjoe Gortner), Brian (Jon Cypher) and Davis (Chuck Courtney) are on a hunting trip on a remote island. Davis gets separated from the other two an is attacked by giant wasps. Morgan runs to find help and comes across a farm where he is attacked by a giant rooster. Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino) shows Morgan the substance that made the rooster so large and that Mr. Skinner is in the city right now to find buyers for the substance. Morgan leaves to get his deceased friend back to the mainland, but tells Mrs. Skinner that he will return.
That night, on the way back from his sales meeting, Mr. Skinner is attacked and killed by giant rats. The next day, Jack Bensignton (Ralph Meeker) and Lorna (Pamela Franklin), possible investors, come to see the product in it’s natural form. Mrs. Skinner explains that Mr. Skinner didn’t come home the night before and reluctantly shows Jack the bubbling goo puddle where the Food of the Gods comes up from the ground. Morgan and Brian return to investigate what killed their friend, along the way they find stranded couple Thomas (Tom Stovall) and the expecting Rita (Belinda Balaski) whose RV went in the ditch to avoid a giant rat.
The film is loosely based on a novel by H.G. Wells, but reduces the source material to an “Earth Strikes Back” ecology movie, which was popular in 1976 when the movie was released. The movie was AIP’s (American International Pictures) most successful release of the year, sparking them to make a series of films based on H.G. Wells novels. The critics were not as kind.
As a seven-year-old child seeing this movie in the theater when it was originally released, I remember it fondly. Even now, watching it as an adult it brings back feelings of childhood glee in watching Sci Fi horror in a crowded theater. But as an adult, I can also see what the critics saw.
The acting is passable with stand-out performances by veteran actress, Ida Lupino as Mrs. Skinner and Pamela Franklin as Lorna. Ralph Meeker is believable as Jack, an uncaring corporate exec who is only interested in the fortune the F.O.T.Gs could bring him. On the other hand, the hero, Marjoe Gortner as Morgan, is less believable. He barely seems shocked when attacked by a six foot rooster and is barely moved by the death of Brian. The relationship between him and Lorna was given no time to develop and I didn’t feel any chemistry between them at all.
The movie moves at a quick pace, especially for its time. The production value is good with some inconsistencies. The special effects of the Rats were done very well for its time. The use of quick shots when using puppets combined with well-done superimposed shots made you believe the rats were real. The scene with rats climbing on the farm house and attacking the RV are both very well done. But the blurry flying wasps and the stiff movement of the rooster break that illusion. The worse special effect was the flooding. The fluid movement of water makes it exceedingly difficult to superimpose and the effect, even to a seven-year-old in 1976, stands out as bad, but that was how it was in all films of the time. Water special effects were always difficult back then. This was of course before computer animation revolutionized the special effects industry. The script is also a weak point. The dialogue seems clunky and forced and there could have been more time spent on true character development and advancing the ecological aspect of the story.
On a whole, I like this movie. Even with its clunky script and inconsistent cheesy special effects. The good absolutely out weighs the bad and this movie is still fun to watch.
The Earth’s Revenge
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 9/109/10
Music - 8/108/10
Production - 9/109/10
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