Food of the Gods II (1989)

Food of the Gods II (1989)

They’re hungry … there is no escape

Biologist Neil Hamilton succeeds in synthesising a growth hormone and uses it to create giant tomatoes in his university campus laboratory. However, a cage of rats is accidentally placed within reach of the plants and they soon devour the tomatoes, causing the rats to grow to the size of the dogs. When a group of animal rights activists break into the lab, they inadvertently free the rats which escape down into the tunnels beneath the campus. As they grow bigger, their appetite increases and they soon start satisfying their hunger on humans.

 

Thirteen years after The Food of the Gods and its bog-awful special effects was unleashed upon the world, H.G. Wells would be turning over in his grave with his literary material being loosely adapted for the screen once again. With no correlation to the previous film, Food of the Gods II is just another interpretation of his 1904 story and has seemingly just ‘sequelised’ itself to latch on to the bit of notoriety the original still retained. Expect lots of giant rats, not a lot of common sense and a whole heap of cheese. It’s so far removed from H. G. Wells’ original story that he doesn’t even get a writing credit!

I’m not quite sure what possessed someone to even contemplate doing a sequel but this Canadian-made production does all it can to prove that they were utter fools for doing so! Unlike the original which played it totally straight, Food of the Gods II does have a knowing campness to it. Be it through a dream sex sequence which ends with one participant suffering from a badly-timed case of gigantism, seeing a giant boy with a foul mouth enter the room and tell the good doctor where he can go forth and multiply, or just via the daft rat puppets that are used for the attack sequences, the film clearly knows it’s not going to be taken seriously so why not run with it? The film could have gone a lot further with this tone but it just doesn’t do as much with it as it can. For every dose of absurdity and silliness, the film bogs itself down with some seriousness: in an early scene, a young infant is attacked and dragged off to feed the onslaught of rats. It’s grim stuff which clashes with the helpings of cheese on display.

There is a steady stream of bodies throughout Food of the Gods II. After all, these are giant rats and have a giant hunger to satisfy! As a result, the daft special effects take centre stage. You’ll see real rats crawling over miniature sets. Furry prop rat heads and puppets used in close-up attack sequences. Images of real rats scaled up in size and superimposed on the frame in others. If it was the 50s or 60s, this could be forgiven but in 1989? You would have hoped that special effects would have become better in the thirteen years since the original but the effects department here must have either been locked up inside a bunker or they intentionally used similar effects as a homage to the original. Perhaps I’m giving them a bit too much credit as although the special effects are atrocious, they do add a lot to the goofy charm. And I’ll also add that I’ll take the cheap-looking but physically-there old school puppet effects than CGI any day.

Where Food of the Gods II does get it right is with the gore. Though the rats look daft, the carnage they cause is anything but. Throats are ripped out, backs are torn apart and other body parts are chewed off. The camera lingers on the gratuitous damage that the rats do, though from a monster flick from the 1980s, I’d expect nothing else. Throw in a random melting as one character injects himself with the serum with gooey consequences and you’ve got a film which at least knew what its target audience wanted to see – check off the nudity with Kimberly Dickson’s appearance in the aforementioned dream sequence too. Cast-wise, you’ll not recognise anyone but even jobbing actors must have a hard time swallowing the fact that starring in a film like Food of the Gods II would be a good career choice.

 

Food of the Gods II is a trashy film: a poor cash-in sequel with a ridiculous premise that was already dated and eye-wateringly absurd back in 1976 – dragged back to life thirteen years later for no good, sane reason. However, due to the nature of its content and cheesy 80s approach, it’s arguably the better film. It’s not the greatest monster movie out there, heck it’s not even the best killer rat flick out there, but it’s entertaining for what it is and will pass the time away nicely with a few beers and friends around.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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