Mr. Big’s “The Food Of The Gods”: 1970s Ecology Gone Berserk!

By on May 13, 2015

If you’ve seen any of the movies by sci-fi/horror director Bert I. Gordon, then you already know the man was somewhat obsessed with super-sized antagonists — in this case, wasps, chickens and, egads, giant rats! -- which usually appear onscreen as larger-than-normal threats to the normal-sized people desperately running amok.

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Gordon wrote, directed and produced more than twenty-five films over his career, but he is probably best known for 1957’s The Amazing Colossal Man, and 1965’s Village Of The Giants, the latter boasting a stellar cast, including Beau Bridges and Tommy Kirk, and, like the movie we’re examining here it too was based on a portion of the sci-fi novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth by the masterful H.G. Wells, published in 1904.

Gordon’s nickname, Mr. Big, by the way, was not just a clever employ of his initials (was he not the first “notorious” B.I.G.?), but it’s also a reference to this interest of his in making movies with giant monsters, and it was granted to him courtesy of sci-fi enthusiast Forrest J. Ackerman.

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(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Food of the Gods, released by American International Picture in 1976, comes along after four-year directing hiatus, and sees Gordon once again utilizing a combination of miniatures, giant props and, chiefly, the rear-projection and forced perspective SFX camera technique that he’d utilized twenty years earlier, and, for the first time, everything’s in vivid and glorious color. The film was shot on location in Vancouver, Canada, and the cast is, well, inspired might be the word — Marjoe Gortner, Ida Lupino and Ralph Meeker are the most recognizable names, although Pamela Franklin (portraying a “lady bacteriologist”) is also well known to horror film geeks, having also appeared in Gordon’s Necromancy.

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Many of his movies — including King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth Vs. The Spider, War of the Colossal Beast, The Magic Sword, Tormented, Beginning of the End and Village of the Giants — were featured, and lampooned, on the TV series “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” better known as MST3K. Gordon has the distinction, dubious though it may be, of having the most movies shown on MST3K.

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(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

We don’t want to spoil anything here but most of the effects here appear to be simply forced perspective; in the pre-CGI days, this was one of the most commonly-used techniques to make sets appear larger than they actually were.

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The Food Of The Gods was, as you might expect, largely ignored by critics, but it found a cult audience among horror fans. It was, however, awarded the Grand Prix du Festival International Du Paris Fantastique in 1977.

On May 26, 2015, Screen Factory, a division of Shout! Factory devoted to releasing horror and sci-fi films with cult followings, will release The Food Of The Gods for the first time on Blu-ray, on a double-feature disc with Frogs, the 1972 horror flick directed by George McCowan. The release — presented in anamorphic widescreen — contains bonus content, including a new audio commentary track with Mr. Big himself, director Bert I. Gordon! Read about it here.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.