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John’s Horror Corner: Food of the Gods II (1989; aka, Gnaw), a campy sequel to the classic natural horror about man-eating giant rats.

June 11, 2020

MY CALL: Exactly what an 80s sequel to a 70s classic should be: much more gory and zany. Good gore, not scary at all but very fun horror, and with cool visuals of giant rats. Why… what were you expecting? MORE MOVIES LIKE Food of the Gods II: Looking for more natural horror? Food of the Gods (1976), of course! But also check out Night of the Lepus (1972), Frogs (1972), Bug (1975), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Squirm (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Day of the Animals (1977), Orca (1977), Piranha (1978), Alligator (1980), Of Unknown Origin (1983), Cujo (1983), Razorback (1984), Monkey Shines (1988),  Slugs (1988), Shakma (1990), Arachnophobia (1990), Ticks (1993), Mosquito (1994), The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), Anaconda (1997), Lake Placid (1999), Rogue (2007), Pig Hunt (2008), Chaw (2009), The Grey (2011), The Bay (2012), The Shallows (2016), 47 Meters Down (2017), Boar (2017) and Crawl (2019).

A scientist with an adorable pet white rat, Neil (Paul Coufos; Chopping Mall) specializes in experimental growth hormones. When a child receives an experimental treatment and becomes a highly aggressive giant kid, Neil is summoned for help.

Whereas part 1 (1976) honed its more thoughtfully-delivered allegory on our mistreatment of the planet, this sequel has a lot to say about the mistreatment of animals at testing facilities but gets lost in its own message as the “messengers” are inadmirably behaving more carelessly themselves than those they accuse. In this case, it’s the criminal behavior of the animal rights activists that create the problem when they vandalize the laboratory and release the growth hormone-exposed rats. Because what could go wrong, right?

The gore is solid and the giant rat attacks have improved their bite a bit since part 1. When we see the first victim’s half-eaten face, you know you’re in for something good. These rats are biting off faces and ripping off arms, leaving numerous chunky fleshy corpses in their wake. This movie offers way more gore shots than its predecessor, including a melty gooey pulsating “super cancer” death (a lot like Stripe’s death in Gremlins).

There are some quirky characters, too. We enjoy a Dirty Harry-wannabe rat exterminator and a college dean who follows the playbook of the worst mayor in movie history. The dean wants to keep everything quiet because of the upcoming grand opening of the pool—which, of course, reminds us of Jaws (1975) and Piranha (1978). But why is it that the police are literally taking orders from the dean!?!?!

The pool massacre is the grand finale. We see giant swimming rats, severed limbs sinking in the deep end, and all manner of panic. There’s also a particularly deep-cut scene involving the white rat and Neil’s girlfriend Alex (Lisa Schrage; Prom Night II).

Pretty fun movie and a solid example of fun, gory 80s horror. I think I like it a bit more than part 1, but both are good in their own ways; one the more classic and delivering a stronger message, the other the more gory-campy and sort of carrying a good message.

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