This week: THE FOOD OF THE GODS!!!
We gather today to honor one of the best worst movies of all time, 1976's mutant-animal-revenge opus Food of the Gods. Based loosely (and by "loosely", I mean "not at all") on H.G. Wells' 1904 novel titled The Food of the Gods And How It Came To Earth, this movie is a textbook example of how terribly envisioned and executed special effects can transform a movie from a lifeless clunker to an unexpectedly mind-blowing feast for the eyes.
Chock full of awesomely-named B-movie actors (Marjoe Gortner, Reg Tunnicliffe, and Ida Lupino -- fresh from her role in The Devil's Rain -- to name a few) as well as a teeming horde of "giant rats", "giant chickens", "giant mosquitoes" and "giant maggots", Food was such a colossal success (and by "success", I mean "failure") that it was nominated for the 1977 Golden Scroll Award for Best Horror Film by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films. I'm not sure who had to blow who to procure this nomination, but I AM sure that it had to be someone REALLY attractive and someone REALLY unattractive, respectively.
Check out this fucking trailer:
Something of a bumbling, idiotic morality tale, Food warns its viewers of the perils of pollution and negligence through a story about a bunch of animals that grow to humongous size due to an unidentified pollutant in their water supply. The animals, of course, go nuts on their human counterparts, and as a result we are rewarded with many scenes of over-acted battle scenes between Marjoe Gortner and giant, rubber chicken heads. Another highlight is the scene in which Ida Lupino is attacked by giant maggots, which is actually pretty fucking disturbing and causes one to question the tame PG rating this film was granted.
The film's climax, though, comes in the form of a harrowing battle scene involving a small model house and a bunch of rats. The makers of the film were not shy about their use of poorly-crafted miniatures, and the images of regular old rats crawling all over a Barbie house interspersed with shots of Marjoe Gortner freaking out with a shotgun are as hilarious as they are baffling.
A Food of the Gods II came out in the 80's, but it was forgettable.
But on to the star of this film, Marjoe Gortner, who is an enigma unto himself. Marjoe (an amalgamation of the names Mary and Joseph) grew up the son of an evangelical preacher, and at an early age showed a great talent for theatrics and mimicry. His father exploited Marjoe's talents for all they were worth, and by the time he was four, his father was touting him as "the world's youngest ordained minister" (although it is disputed whether or not he was ever actually ordained). Marjoe's sermons soon raked in several millions of dollars for his family, which his father promptly stole and disappeared with.
Gortner kept preaching though, and in 1972 was the focus of a documentary titled Marjoe, in which he showed the backstage workings of the evangelical Christian money machine. He exposed evangelism as the fraud that it was, interviewing his peers and allowing them to point out their own hypocrises. The film won an Academy Award for best documentary, and Gortner still kept preaching afterward, to an audience willing to turn a blind eye on the fact that he admitted, on film, to fleecing them for all they were worth. Brilliant.
His "Hollywood" acting career was short and dismal, but Food of the Gods was his true zenith, a shining, radiant flash of awesomeness in a career full of fraud, deceit, and weirdness.