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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New on Video: Eco-Kill Classics Food of the Gods and Frogs

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM



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The Golden Age of the Eco-Kill genre, in which animals attack humans either due to mysterious mutations or just because they're pissed off, was the 1970s. It would have been even if not for Steven Spielberg's Jaws, which both legitimized and signed the genre's death warrant, since there were just so damn many of them produced, likely because of the loosening in what you could get away with in terms of ickniess onscreen, and the increased hunger for that sort of product at the drive-ins.

Two of those pieces of grindhouse filler, Bert I. Gordon's 1976 The Food of the Gods and George McCowan's 1972 Frogs, are being released on a double-feature Blu-Ray by Shout! Factory on May 26.



In Food of the Gods, the credits for which say it's "Based on a Portion" of the H.G. Wells novel — an accurate but surprisingly honest way to put it, since I'm pretty sure the book was in the public domain by that point — a group of people on a small Canadian island do battle with super-sized animals, from ferret-sized maggots to horse-sized rats. Various effects techniques are used to bring them to life, and while they looked more convincing on a drive-in screen through a windshield or on a crappy VHS tape, the mostly-okay HD transfer allows one to savor director Gordon's work.

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'd rather see a fake giant rooster that's actually on the set than a fake giant rooster that was added later via pixels. (I've said that before, haven't I? I think it was in my review of Left Behind.) Also, this gives me the excuse I'm always looking for to post one of my favorite frames from 1972's giant-rabbit film, Night of the Lepus.

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Frogs came out the same year as Night of the Lepus, and is the the more classical Eco-Kill work: normal-sized animals attack, including but certainly not limited to frogs, though the frogs are set up as the Big Bad. If anything, Frogs' theme of a rich old man who distrusts the natural world foreshadows the roach attack of the "They're Creeping Up On You" segment in Creepshow.


Though Food of the Gods pays off on its promise of ginormous animals, mostly because that was director Bert I. Gordon's primary schtick — some of his past giant-animal-or-person films included The Amazing Colossal Podcast, War of the Colossal Beast, Beginning of the End, and Village of the Giants, all of which were done on Mystery Science Theater 3000, not-coincidentally — Frogs does not feature frogs big enough to swallow a human, or at least a human arm. That was a common poster gimmick for Eco-Kill films; see also the Kingdom of the Spiders, which features only regular-sized spiders, even though the poster implies otherwise.

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That said, Frogs the movie does sort of pay off on its poster. In a way. You just gotta make it all the way to the end of the credits. It's not exactly the Avengers eating shawarma, but it's still a pretty good easter egg.


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Sherilyn Connelly

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