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Food of the Gods (1976)
Die Insel der Ungeheuer
The Food of the Gods
H.G. Wells' Food of the Gods

Nomination Year: 1992
SYNOPSIS:  On a remote island, bubbling up from the ground is a strange substance which causes organisms to grow to massive size: chickens, rats, wasps, you name it. They dub this gunk "The Food of the Gods." A football player (Marjoe Gortner) and his friends become trapped on the island at the homestead of an elderly couple. Not trapped like rats, but rather trapped by them. The bigger problem is that the rats seem to be more intelligent than the humans. As more and more people are killed by the rats, Marjoe comes up with several lame plans which miraculously seem to work. In the end, he blows up the nearby dam and drowns all the rats. But what will happen in the future, now that traces of this "Food of the Gods" has gotten into the water supply? (Hint: Food of the Gods 2.)

Worst Science

I Don't Think He Understands the Gravity of the Situation
Marjoe Gortner is full of clever ideas in this picture. He takes his friend Brian down to the river to watch the giant-sized rats in the water, trying to get past a barricade. "Look," he says, "they're too heavy to swim!"

Brian, the friend, is far too intelligent to survive in this film (he doesn't). He corrects Marjoe: "Whaddaya mean, too heavy? Did you ever see a hippo in the water? And rats are born great swimmers! I should swim so good!"

Marjoe is unfazed, claiming that rats are used to being small. "Yeah, but the new gravity-pull makes it a whole different story..."

Guess who turns out to be right in the end (Hint: remember you're in a Bad Movie universe). This is just one of this film's many instances of a perfectly reasonable, logical argument which is completely conquered by idiocy. See below for further examples.

Acting Appropriately Stupid

I'm the Hero -- I'm in Charge Here!
A quintessential example. The characters are momentarily safe at the isolated homestead, but they need to get off the island, and to do that, they have to get past the giant rats. But how? In this scene, Marjoe Gortner browbeats everyone into Acting Appropriately Stupid.

The greedy fat guy starts to get in his station wagon, but Marjoe snatches the keys away. "What're you doing?! We have to get out of here!" protests the man.

"I'm saving your life," states Marjoe, "You'll never make it past those rats." Fat guy says, "I suppose you have a better idea?" Marjoe says, "Yes. Brian and I will get in my Jeep and go down there to take a look for ourselves."

Everyone else (correctly) objects to this new plan. Rather than the open Jeep, they want to get in the closed station wagon and "plow right through the bastards." Marjoe says that the rats will then give them two choices: dying inside the car, or dying outside. Besides, he continues, mabye the rats' size was exaggerated. Huh? First he says "you'll never make it" then he says the rats are wimps. Which is it? Somehow, this bullying non-argument seems to cow the normally clear-headed Brian, who, still shaking his head, climbs into Marjoe's open Jeep as they drive off...to Brian's eventual doom, of course.

As previously mentioned, Marjoe's friend Brian was way too smart to survive this film -- they had to kill him off somehow before the audience started realizing he was right all the time.

Worst Special Effect

He Read My Mind
Marjoe and Brian creep out of the Jeep to check out the campers' claims of giant rats at their trailer. They see a horrible sight: real, normal-sized rats crawling all over a toy trailer. In the long shots, they show rats crawling over something, but superimposed on that something is a shot of the trailer. "It's worse than I thought," whispers Brian. He ain't kidding.

Worst Picture

One Point for Realism, Minus Several Million for Inhumanity
You know how most films have a disclaimer to the effect that "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" at the end? Well, not Food of the Gods, no siree. To show the fact that the rats have grown to giant size, the film-makers cleverly use tiny models of objects and real rats. When the "heroes" are defending themselves against the giant rats, they use shotguns and dynamite. To show this, the film-makers cleverly use BB-guns and firecrackers...and real rats. And when they blow the dam to drown the rats...guess what? So yes, in vivid detail, you see real rats getting really shot with real pellets, really blown up with real explosives, and really drowning in real water -- some clearly being held underwater by the tail.

ASPCA considerations aside, the ending is truly cheesy plotwise, too. They burn all the drowned rat-bodies and dump all the Food of the Gods. As the "empty" jars drift downstream, Marjoe has a voiceover where he sets up the sequel: "I'd hate to think what would happen if any of that stuff ever got into the water supply..." They show cows drinking the water near the jars. They show the cows in a milk-processing plant. They show kindergarten kids drinking from milk cartons. Freeze frame. Roll credits. God help us all.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Marjoe Gortner Preacher turned actor, his blond, curly head pops up in a lot of Bad Movies. 
Jon Cypher Police chief on Hill Street Blues 
Pamela Franklin  
Ralph Meeker  
Director Claim to Fame
Burt I. Gordon  

Bryan Cassidy

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