Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm Down with F.O.T.G., Yeah, You Know Me

This comes to you as part of the sublime Final Girl Film Club. Stacie Ponder's so much better than me, and arguably much better than you.

That's respected actress and director Ida Lupino screaming at the big maggot that just gnawed her arm.

The good backwoods Christian wife, Mrs. Skinner (Lupino), thought that yellow puddle in her backyard was the Lord's work. She insisted, "The good Lord give it to us cause we're deserving people, and we pray regular we do. The lord's gonna see to it that we don't need money no more, never." Once old Mr. Skinner saw that the substance wasn't oil, he naturally thought to himself, "why not feed it to my livestock?" Waste not, want not. I guess... They still had to force it down their chickens' throats by using additional chicken feed. Never mind the unusual color and consistency, and that animals refuse to eat it of their own accord; The Skinners love the Lord, so that gosh darn slop better be good for something!

Well that specialty slop has been lovingly labeled for pre-sale as 'F.O.T.G' by Mrs. Skinner. That's The Food of the Gods to you city folk! Wasps, rats and roosters love the stuff about as much as those greedy corporate types, but it's only the animals that experience a laughably terrifying case of giganticism. The human race is doomed! Have the Gods forsaken us, or do they just see the novelty in mega-chickens like the rest of us?

But let's be honest, we didn't seek out Food of the Gods to see big animals devouring people via shoddy trick photography. We came for those beautiful characterizations.

He's the wise pro-footballer drawn into a chaotic world of monster roosters and evil sludge. She's the female bacteriologist who loves him. Theirs is a romance that will transcend time... Or at least until they get back to the mainland. Jack (Marjoe Gortner) is what we'd call our hero. He's completely unappealing and bland, but he's at least he's conscious of the cataclysmic problem fifty-percent of the time. The same can't be said for his love interest Lorna (Pamela Frank), who sums up her story right off the bat: "Female bacteriologists are not that easy to find..." Clearly she's right, but someone could have looked a bit harder given Lorna's complete uselessness in a crisis. She gets a little depth when, seconds after (finally) shooting a human-sized rat in the face, she's more aroused than ever. Lorna seductively turns to Jack, "If I told you what I felt right know you'd think I was crazy. I want you to make love to me." See? Layers.

Meanwhile Lorna's business companion is the soulless Jack Bensington (Ralph Meeker), who wants to sell the supersizing slop for money. We already know Jack's a bastard because he loves being called one. In fact he's such a bastard that he joyfully drives past a bloody car accident AND a pregnant woman in distress. But Jack's interests lie solely in that supernatural chow ("This is the end of it! I want it all!") and making sure he can get the profit when it inevitably hits big on the market. Then there's the rest of the sideline characters -- pregnant girl, dim husband -- doing their best (ie. worst) to survive the onslaught of the Gods. Best of luck to them!

With Food of the Gods it's all about the trick photography, and the trick is not to laugh. It's harder than you'd think. Miniatures and the like make your standard scene of rats overtaking an RV seem especially charming. Consequently, two-thirds of the runtime consists of rats running into frame and being blown out of frame. Perhaps I'm too sensitive, but by the twentieth gunshot to a rodent's face, I've had my fill. It's glorified rat snuff! There's no enjoyment in that, and it ultimately derails the film for those of us with souls. Alas, giant puppet rooster heads and transparent wasps make my heart swell, so you take what you can get. After all... if you don't clean your plate, you don't get dessert.


Stacie Ponder said...

The sequel is righteous!

I love Mrs Skinner's folksy reasoning, and the fact that she always calls her husband "Mr Skinner".

I do not, however, love real-life rat violence.

Adam said...

I'm comforted knowing that there's no animal torture in the sequel.

I'm NOT comforted in having to assume there was animal torture in the sequel.

Why couldn't the rats just disappear into a questionable cloud of black smoke like everything else?