Food of the Gods II (1989)

Food of the Gods II VHS CoverOh Dean White! Because of your hubris, the Synchronized Swimming Championship was ruined by giant man-eating rats! It goes without saying that I immediately filled out my college application to attend the Dean’s Hamelin University. (The name of the school was never mentioned, but the championship was being held at the eye-rollingly named Hamelin Olympic Athletic Facility.)

And if you’re wondering, “do I have sit through a lot talking and scientific mumbo jumbo before I get to the spectacular synchronized swimming climax,” Food of the Gods II knows that their audience is by definition people who loved seeing Marjoe Gortner blasting big ass rats in the original Food of the Gods and so delivers a steady stream of people getting chewed up in gory fashion by big ass rats. They even throw in an overgrown little kid who swears! (You clean that potty mouth up young man or you’re going straight to bed without eating your Food of the Gods!)

This time around, the Food of the Gods isn’t just some magic gunk bubbling up from the earth hillbillies are feeding their farm animals that makes them grow to the size of a really bad special effect. It’s a growth hormone that an ethically-challenged old hag scientist administered to a kid in an effort to treat something or other.

And after the little boy grows into the size of a small minivan with the mouth of 50-year-old sailor she pushes the panic button and calls her protege Dr. Neil Hamilton at Hamelin University. Dr. Neil is a plant researcher but agrees to try to find an antidote for the runaway growth hormone. Simply put, this isn’t just Food of the Gods II, but Food of the Gods 2.0!

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But Hamelin University is awash in controversy and discontent. The evil Dr. Delhurst is doing experiments on animals supposedly for cancer research, but he seems to be more interested in finding a cure for baldness. A group of animal rights activists, including Dr. Neil’s girlfriend, break into Dr. Delhurst’s lab and wreck everything. This doesn’t have much to do with anything other than the fact that it sets the stage for the same animal activist to pointlessly break into Dr. Neil’s lab even though Dr. Neil only does plant research. You might laugh, but you wouldn’t be laughing if you’ve ever heard the screams of a tomato plant after it’s injected with a growth hormone.

Dr. Neil though does have some rats in his lab. Through circumstances that would never happen in real-life, but are commonplace in movies such as this one, the rats get dosed with the growth hormone and are inadvertently set free by the panicky and bumbling animal-rights activists. This sets in motion a sequence of events where people on campus get gnawed to death, while the dean downplays everything so that opening night of the athletic facility isn’t affected.

The Dean doesn’t have a large part, but he is the best character in the film. He hilariously pooh-poohs all of Dr. Neil’s concerns about the mounting death toll on campus, stating that two people in a car accident who were partially eaten and a guy who had his ass chewed off before being hit by a car was merely a coincidence and not the result of giant rampaging rats.

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Though the film is played almost completely seriously, other moments also provoke more smirks than scares. There’s Dr. Neil’s dream where he injects himself with the growth hormone and then has sex with some gal who wasn’t his girlfriend. Watching his gigantic naked body tower over hers is scary in its own way, but probably not in the way the filmmakers intended.

Likewise, the massacre at the Synchronized Swimming Championship can’t help but be hilarious simply because the very idea of a synchronized swimming championship is so funny. But when a giant rat tail surfaces between the swimmers, you won’t be able to stop laughing at the most blatant and ill-advised of the movie’s Jaws-inspired moments!

For aficionados of gore, you can’t really criticize the film that much. It delivers several scenes of gooey mayhem and if they don’t always make sense like the evil doctor turning into a tumorous mass of slop after accidentally infecting himself with the growth hormone and the blood from a diseased dog, at least it isn’t more time spent with the inane animal rights morons stumbling around the sewers for no good reason.

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While the original film was a product of its time (mid 1970s) with its vaguely pro-ecology message, Food of the Gods II is a product of its time (late 1980s) with its message that everyone involved from the scientists, animal rights activists, cops, exterminators, campus employees, the Dean, all the way to the synchronized swimmer fans are just so much freaking rat chow!

And while the original had Marjoe Gortner blowing up a dam to drown the rats, these new and improved rats can swim so Dr. Neil had to lure them out into the open with a guy playing Three Blind Mice on electric guitar Pied Piper style! (Yes, it really could get more absurd than Gortner as a football player making homemade bombs!)

That the whole affair is a graphic stew cooked up by Damien Lee, who is used to working with such video luminaries as Jeff Wincott, Michael Dudikoff, and Dolph Lundgren, means it really isn’t a surprise you might see a boom mike in a scene or a crew member’s hands operating the special effects that give the evil doctor his tumors. Certainly just as terrible as Food of the Gods, but obviously in a wholly original way.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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