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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Food Of The Gods / Frogs (Blu-ray)
The Food Of The Gods / Frogs (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // PG // May 26, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted May 25, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movies:

Nature run amuck movies have long been a staple of horror but it seems that they peaked in popularity in the seventies. Shout! Factory's horror imprint, Scream Factory, brings together two of American International Pictures' finest entries in the sub-genre on one Blu-ray disc, available in HD for the first time.

The Food Of The Gods:

Directed by Bert I. Gordon in 1976, Food Of The Gods, based on a story by H.G. Wells, revolves around a man named Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) who takes a bunch of his friends out to an island in the middle of the Canadian wilderness for a hunting expedition. Things get off to a strange start when a horde of massive wasps attack them. They realize quickly that something is amiss. When Morgan wanders into a seemingly abandoned barn and is subsequently attacked by a massive bloodthirsty chicken, they quickly come to the conclusion that something has gone wrong with the animals on the island. Unfortunately for them, there are a LOT of animals on this island, particularly rats…

A cautionary tale about the perils of man playing God, the cause for all of this is a chemical leak that a farmer inadvertently decides will make a great growth hormone! The Food Of The Gods isn't scary by anyone's standards, it's too hokey for that, but the ideas behind it are interesting and dutifully exploited by some pretty awesome (albeit ineffective) effects set pieces. The highlight is obviously Marjoe Gortner fighting with a killer chicken but the scenes with the giant rats at the end of the movie are great in their own strange way.

Gortner isn't the most charismatic leading man in the world but he gets the job done here. He handles himself well enough in the action sequences. Joining him in the cast are Ida Lupino, Belinda Balaski and the lovely Pamela Franklin. They're fine here too. But really, this is one that you'll remember and want to revisit not for the cast or the admittedly lovely location photography, no, this is one you'll want to remember and revisit for the giant killer animal attack sequences.

Frogs:

Helmed by George McCowan in 1972, again for American International Pictures, Frogs isn't all that different than our first feature when you get right down to it. The story follows Jason Crockett (Ray Milland). Jason is getting on in years, he's no longer the spy young man he once was, and this is taking a toll on him not just physically, but mentally as well. He's disabled but he's also got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Thankfully, he's filthy rich so he can still more or less do whatever he wants… and what he wants is to get everyone of his family members to come visit his island home for a giant birthday bash!

With that plan underway, various relatives start arriving and preparing for the birthday celebration, most of them completely unaware that grouchy old Jason hates all the animals and critters that share his island home. He hates them so much he poisons them! Enter a photo-journalist named Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott). He's poking around for an expose he's writing on the effects of pollution and he's starting to wonder just what it is that old Jason is up to. With the man's birthday just around the corner, strange things start to occur. It's almost as if the frogs, the snakes, even the turtles in the area are starting to fight back against Jason and the other humans. Maybe trying to poison all of these things wasn't such a hot idea in the first place…

This one is well paced, nicely shot and a lot of fun. It's not as effects heavy as the first feature and it's maybe a little easier to take seriously for it. Most of the attack scenes feature people running in terror from actual animals so it's up to the cast to sell it for the most part. Ray Milland is fun to watch and well cast as the stereotypical grumpy eccentric old rich jerk character. He plays the part well, he looks it too. No spring chicken at this point in his career Milland actually delivers a really fun turn as the lead, and the one who brings all of this upon himself in the first place. Sam Elliott is also a kick to watch as the character who is essentially the hero of the film. He's got noble intentions and he plays the role with enough enthusiasm to make it work.

The Blu-ray Set:

Video:

Food Of The Gods is framed at 1.85.1 and Frogs at 1.78.1, both transfers presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen. Aside from some minor specks here and there, both films look quite clean here, no major print damage to note. Detail is nicely upgraded from past DVDV editions, both in close up shots and medium/long distance shots too. Some of the matte and effects work in Food looks a bit more artificial here than before, but it's always been there so it's not a big deal. Skin tones look good, colors are reproduced nicely and accurately and there are only a few spots where eagle eyed viewers might notice some minor compression artifacts. Noise reduction and edge enhancement never pop into the equation.

Sound:

Both movies are given an English language DTS-HD 2.0 mix with optional closed captioning provided, also in English. No problems to note here. While the video upgrade is more noticeable than the audio upgrade both movies feature nicely balanced tracks with clear dialogue. The films' respective scores sound good and both movies are free of any hiss or distortion.

Extras:

Extras for Food begin with a commentary track moderated by Kevin Sean Michaels with Bert I. Gordon himself. This is a decent talk about how he came onboard to direct the film, what it was like working with AIP, the cast and the crew and the difficulties involved in staging certain scenes. The extras also include a twelve minute interview with actress Belinda Balaski who shares some stories about how she got involved in the film, what it was like on set, and how she feels about the movie in hindsight. Rounding out the extras for Food are a still gallery, some radio spots, a trailer for the feature and trailers for Empire Of The Ants and Jaws Of Satan.

In regards to the extras for Frogs, we get a nice ten minute interview with Joan Van Ark who discusses her involvement with the film and experiences on set. Aside from that, look for some radio spots, a still gallery and a trailer for the feature. Both movies also come with menus and chapter selection. Final Thoughts:

Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of Food Of The Gods/Frogs is a good one, giving each of these ‘nature run amuck' horror films a nice HD facelift and throwing in a few decent supplemental bits and pieces as well. Both movies are a lot of fun, horror fans should check them out. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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