There is a moment in Frogs when Ray Milland announces, “I still believe man is master of the world” to which Sam Elliot responds, “Does that mean he can’t live in harmony with the rest of it?”
That exchange sums up the message in the new Scream! Factory double Blu-ray, side by side releases of Food Of The Gods / Frogs and Empire Of The Ants / Jaws Of Satan. The stories take place in a world where humans believe they have outsmarted the laws of nature, but the truth is we have no control over mother nature when she decides to strike back. And when she does rise up, it ain’t pretty.
Each film has a similar premise, an isolated group of strangers fight for their lives because some strange event – either man made or God made – turns the local animals into deadly enemies. In Food Of The Gods and Empire Of The Ants, the enemies are mutant and giant. In Frogs, the reptiles and bugs have just had enough of people poisoning them and strike back. Jaws Of Satan (original release title was King Cobra) is a departure from the others with it’s “devil possession” story, but still delivers the animal-on-people action.
No surprise, all four films have incredible HD transfers from Scream! Factory. Bert Gordon, director of Food Of The Gods provides audio commentary and he has a pretty good memory of how he pulled off a few of the gags in the film. I was particularly amused and upset to hear how he got those rats to look like they were getting shot. I imagine that the American Humane Society was not present during the making of these.
These are great movies for your Saturday night, microwave popcorn viewing. The low budget, exploitation style mixed with the overwrought delivery of the message gives the films the perfect balance of camp, gore, and melodrama. The filmmakers make no apologies for these movies – just stick around for the end of the credits during Frogs to see the ultimate wink and nod to the audience. The productions boast some great cast – noted earlier was Ray Milland and Sam Elliot – but you’ll also find Joan Collins, Pamela Franklin and even a young Christina Applegate. It’s fun to note that Jaws Of Satan was photographed by Dean Cundi (Halloween, Jurassic Park) and he gives this low budget flick a very polished look.
So, before you pull out that bug spray, read the passage from Genesis or dump that barrel of toxic waste into the your local swamp, I suggest you take a look at these films. You might just change your mind.