Bert I. Gordon
Review by Thomas Scalzo
Posted on 02 October 2004
Source Vestron Video VHS
features: October: 31 Days of Horror
I used to fantasize the most horrible deaths…the most frightening. None of them come close to being eaten by rats.
Or wasps. Or chickens. Or maggots. From the depths of the earth oozes the Food of the Gods, a powerful mutating substance capable of enlarging anything that eats it to gigantic proportions. Envisioning an oversized-livestock fortune, farmers Ma and Pa Skinner initially praise the mysterious goo. But when Morgan and his pro football buddies run afoul of some wasps that’ve had a taste, it’s all too clear that when nature gets big, nature gets angry. And nature is growing.
Adapted in part from an H.G. Wells novel, The Food of the Gods is, astonishingly, considered by some to be a low point in the career of director Bert I. Gordon. Released nearly twenty years after his 1957 semi-classic, The Amazing Colossal Man, both The Food of the Gods and its sequel, another adaptation of Wells entitled Empire of the Ants, have been called sad attempts to perpetuate a career through heavy-handed When Nature Attacks films.
However, the overlooked genius of The Food of the Gods is that, despite employing admittedly ludicrous special effects and ham acting, it is a serious attempt to tell a terrifying cautionary tale. For Gordon, Morgan’s ridiculous monologue (“One of these days the earth will get even with man for messing her up with his garbage”) is heartfelt; his pitched battle with a giant chicken is suspenseful; and the final war against a bloodthirsty rat army is horrific. If Gordon hadn’t tried so hard to frighten us, The Food of the Gods might have slipped into obscurity as a corny monster movie. Instead, the effort remains an enduringly enjoyable film, a genuine genre piece that stands as a testament to the glory days of over-ambitious horror directors.