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Though many of director Bert I. Gordon's previous films tackle the man versus nature theme central to the sci-fi genre, Food of the Gods' ecological concern makes it a bit more prescient than his classics from the 50s and 60s. Having unleashed gargantuan humans in Village of the Giants, and insects in Empire of the Ants, Gordon adapted the eponymous H.G. Wells novel into a film that highlights human responsibility in nature as well as his ability to make animals look as large as trees and cars. Set on an island off the Canadian coast, Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) and some buddies from his football team retreat to the "country," but flee horrified after three giant wasps sting their friend to death. Following this initial attack, the viewer learns that on a nearby farm, Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino) and her husband are feeding a mysterious, toxic ambrosia labeled F.O.T.G. to their chickens, causing them to grow into huge mutants. As other forest dwellers accidentally ingest this foamy liquid, which bubbles up from the ground in a polluted artesian well, they become rabid human killers, symbolizing the revenge nature reaps on those who don't protect her. Meanwhile, bacteriologists Jack Bensington (Ralph Meeker) and Lorna (Pamela Franklin) visit to buy the rights to this disgusting, yellow goo. The most satisfaction comes during scenes in which maggots hiding amongst Mrs. Skinner's canned peaches attack her arm, or when giant rats invade a neighbor's motorhome. The culmination of horror in the final scenes is slightly gory (think bomb-exploded rats) but humorous enough not to nauseate. Serious environmental undertones in Food of the Gods only add depth to its schlocky tendencies, making it, overall, a great example of the "gigantic creature" special effects mastered by this remarkable director.

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MG108762 Food of the Gods DVD (1976/Marjoe Gortner) $14.98