Saturday, March 8, 2008


1976/Directed by Bert I Gordon

I first caught Food of the Gods as a teen back in 1977, when a schoolmate and I snuck into the city (my parents thought I was at the library doing homework) on a Sunday afternoon to the dodgy Dendy cinema off Collins Street, where the film was screening with Jeff Lieberman’s brilliant low-budget horror classic Squirm.

While Squirm gave me nightmares and scared the bejesus out of me (I couldn’t open a cupboard or bathroom door for months without thinking that a million ravenous worms would come spilling out over me), Food of the Gods certainly provided its share of trashy, enjoyable thrills, and was my introduction to two great genre names that I would come to appreciate more and more in the years ahead: filmmaker Bert I Gordon and child evangelist turned exploitation actor Marjoe Gortner.

Known to his fans as ‘Mr. B.I.G.’, both for his initials and his penchant for making movies with oversized monsters, Bert I Gordon had spent over twenty years helming such B-grade wonders as The Amazing Colossal Man, The Spider, Attack of the Puppet People and Village of the Giants before Food of the Gods came along, proving that he has lost none of his enthusiasm for gigantism (he followed it up with the Joan Collins starer Empire of the Ants before his career wound down in the early 1980s, although he did come out of retirement briefly in 1990 to direct the obscure demonic thriller Satan’s Princess).

Based on the same H. G. Wells short story which inspired 1965s Village of the Giants (a brilliant giant teens on the rampage thriller with a killer soundtrack), Food of the Gods stars the muscular, curly-haired Marjoe as a star football quarterback who heads out to remote Canadian island for some relaxation before the big game, only to be caught up in a deadly struggle against giant wasps, roosters, worms and a horde of rats, all of whom have grown to oversize thanks to them digesting a mysterious substance which has leaked out of the ground (the ‘Food of the Gods’ of the title). Helping Marjoe in his battle against this rampage against nature are a combination of one-time Hollywood heavyweights (Ida Lupino, Ralph Meeker) and some younger familiar faces such as Pamela Franklin (a regular on 1970s cop shows) and Belinda Balaski (an exploitation stalwart with roles in Werewolf of Woodstock, Bobbie Joe and the Outlaw and Piranha to her credit).

Like most films from Mr. B.I.G., Food of the Gods remains a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and you’ve got to admire the fact that Bert not only wrote and directed the film, but also orchestrated its special effects (as he did with most of his movies), which utilized a combination of miniatures, giant props and rear-screen projection. Sure the effects may not be up to the standard of a multi-million dollar Hollywood production, but they are more than adequate given the film’s budget, and only add to the charm of this slice of nostalgic seventies horror.

Food of the Gods has been released on DVD in the USA by MGM, as part of their great Midnight Movies collection, although disappointingly it is a very bare bones release, with not even a trailer thrown in for an appetizer.

Copyright John Harrison 2008