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  Food of the Gods, The Call In The Exterminators
Year: 1976
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Stars: Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin, Ralph Meeker, Jon Cypher, Ida Lupino, John McLiam, Belinda Balaski, Tom Stovall, Chuck Courtney, Reg Tunnicliffe
Genre: Horror, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) is a football player who seizes an opportunity for a day off to visit an island for some recreation. He spends the morning hunting for deer with dogs, but one of his companions is annoyed when he lets the deer go after they have cornered it and rides after the animal. However, on reaching a clearing his horse acts distressed, eventually throwing its rider to the ground as a buzzing noise grows louder. To his horror the man finds himself surrounded by giant wasps, one of which stings him, killing almost instantly. When Morgan and his other friend Brian (Jon Cypher) stumble across the body, they realise all is not right...

And when you see Marjoe attacked by a giant cock, you know there's some rum doings afoot. The cock belongs to an old lady wife of a farmer on the island, in fact she has a whole host of overgrown poultry, not just the rooster. We were back in Bert I. Gordon territory once more and this time Mr B.I.G. had serious thoughts on his mind, specifically the damage that mankind was doing to the environment. To this end he freely adapted a "portion" (according to the credits) of H.G. Wells' novel The Food of the Gods as a searing criticism of our battle with nature.

Or maybe not, as this was really just another seventies giant monster movie most of which seemed to have ecology on the agenda, but more than that had ambitions to scare the audience with creature effects. Now, one of the special effects men on this film was future Oscar-winner Rick Baker, therefore the models look far better than the film has any right to, so it's a pity they still come across as if they were being manipulated by technicians offscreen. Mainly because that's exactly what was happening.

As for the plot, well the old lady is Mrs Skinner played by Ida Lupino in another sign this was a 1970s horror: the hasbeen star. She finds a special chemical bubbling up, unexplained (and still a mystery by the end of the film), from the ground near her farmhouse so she bottles it and feeds it to her chickens, but heavens to Betsy there's a disaster looming as various animals feast on her concoction and spring up to terrifying size. Actually there's only three other types of beasts so afflicted: caterpillars (carnivorous caterpillars?!), the wasps as we've seen, and... rats!

Lots of rats, as Morgan discovers when he and Brian go back to the island to work out what exactly is going on. He also meets biochemist Pamela Franklin (in her last film before her early retirement) who is travelling to Mrs Skinner's place with her money-grabbing boss (Ralph Meeker) to collect and examine the gunk. Not only that, but there's a young couple whose camper van has broken down stranded - and the woman is pregnant, as if it wasn't exciting enough. Although characters are occasionally eaten, it's the actors playing the rats you'll feel sorry for, this due to them being genuine rats filmed in closeup to make them appear bigger.

These poor creatures are subjected to what look like red paintballs (for when they're supposed to be shot), electrocution, improvised dynamite and attempted drowning, all in the name of showbusiness. Never mind the indignity the cast have to got through by acting through this risible plod, the rats really suffer for their art. The climax, where the surviving humans hide in the farmhouse from the rampaging rodents is essentially a retread of Night of the Living Dead, although a different solution is utilised to foil the hungry critters. But not before we're taught a lesson in what happens to the greedy thanks to the fate of Meeker - it's the humans who abuse the environment who meet nasty ends. As well as the odd unlucky, wrong place at the wrong time chaps. Music by Elliot Kaplan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Bert I. Gordon  (1922 - )

Known as Mister B.I.G., this American writer, director and producer came from advertising to make a host of giant monster movies in the 1950s - King Dinosaur, Beginning of the End, The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs the Spider and War of the Colossal Beast. Attack of the Puppet People featured minituarisation, as a variation.

The 60s saw him make various fantasy and horror movies, such as Tormented, The Magic Sword, Village of the Giants and Picture Mommy Dead. The 1970s only offered two giant monster movies, Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants, plus horror Necromancy and thriller The Mad Bomber. Subsequent films in the eighties were made with the video market in mind, and he made a comeback in 2015 at the age of 93 (!) with psycho-horror Secrets of a Psychopath.

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