Another Super Spectacular Event Week comes to a close here at Final Girl, and what better movie to end the week with than Gnaw: Food of the Gods 2 (1989)? There's surprisingly little info on this movie out there on The Internerd, which I find more than a little shocking. At the film's end, as the tape rewound, I ruminated for a bit on how I must now be one of the cool kids who's seen this flick- surely the entire world adores it as I do, and now I belong! Judging from the 2.1/10 rating on imdb, however, it seems that I'm in a Club of Me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Gnaw is good, oh my heavens no; what I'm saying is that Gnaw is a total Mellencamp- and for those of you not hip to my lingo yet, that means this movie hurts soooo good.
After a short scene introducing us to a group of loudmouth animal rights protesters at Some University, we cut to an...uh, I think it's supposed to be an asylum of some kind out in the woods. Dr. Treger (Jackie Burroughs) has placed a frantic phone call to Dr. Hamilton (Paul Coufos of Chopping Mall) at Some University- she desperately needs his assistance right this second and can he please come over and please hurry! Ham arrives on the scene and in the biggest cinematic surprise since Jaye Davidson's sausage and eggs played peek-a-boo in The Crying Game, this happens:
Yes, a 14-foot-tall 8-year-old comes bounding around the corner...then there's this exchange:
Dr Treger: Bobby, I'd like you to meet my colleague, Dr. Hamilton.
Bobby: And I'd like you to get the fuck out of here! Get out, you bitch!
Honestly, I was laughing so hard I had to stop the VCR. Minutes, yes minutes later, when my laughter subsided, I considered stopping for good- I'd just seen the perfect 120-second movie. How could the rest of the proceedings top a foul-mouthed 14-foot-tall 8-year-old? It didn't seem possible. There was more supersized goodness waiting to be had, though, and I soldiered on...but not before I made out with the movie box for 15 minutes.
Dr Treger explains that Bobby was treated for a growth deficiency with an experimental growth hormone and oh, no one should play God! Look what we have wrought unto ourselves! Not only is Bobby 14-feet tall and growing, he's becoming increasingly belligerent. Today he's swearing, tomorrow he could be punching necks! Ham agrees to try to find a cure ASAP.
After a night in the lab spent tapping computer keys, pouring things into beakers, and lighting bunsen burners to the strains of some hardcore 80s synth action music, Ham has identified the problem in Bobby's cell structure. He uses the synthesized growth serum to...make some tomatoes get really big. But then he's totally gonna set about finding the antidote!
To find a cure, however, Ham is forced to experiment on rats, even though he's dead set against it because 1) he prefers to experiment on vegetables; 2) he has a pet rat named Louise whom he loves very much; and 3) he's dating one of the aforementioned animal rights protesters, Alex (Lisa Schrage, "Mary Lou" of Prom Night 2), and she would be so pissed if she found out. She does find out and lectures Ham about playing God, but then she takes him home for a little nookie. It's a largely unappetizing affair, as we're treated to shots of Ham making out with Alex's chin intercut with shots of rats eating tomatoes.
Oh, wait...I get it now. Yeah, that's wicked symbolic.
Meanwhile, back at the lab, Alex's uppity protesting cohorts have broken into Ham's lab. Before you can say "What? No WAY!", the cages are tipped over and all the injected rats are scurrying about. They promptly set about eating the face off the lead animal rights protester.
Omigod WAIT...now I totally get THAT. Gnaw: Food of the Gods 2 is so totally fucking deep!
The next hour goes pretty much as you'd expect: giant rats run around eating people, a cinematic trick achieved largely through the use of Rat Eye View and big puppet rat heads. At times, however, the next hour goes not at all as you'd expect: the proceedings are decidedly gory and there's even some completely gratuitous synchronized swimming thrown in for good measure. As if attempting to solidify its B-Movie status, Gnaw features a visible boom mike in several shots and Alex's hairstyle changes from scene to scene (and even sometimes within the same scene).
Eventually, of course, the SWAT team is called in to dispatch the giant rats with their machine guns. That's all well and good, thought I, but what of Giant Bobby, whose size and anger issues still hadn't been cured? As if the videocassette had peeked into my brain as I was a-wonderin', our focus shifts back to the asylum in the woods. A giant hand- yes, praise Jesus, a giant hand- lays the smackdown on Dr Treger and suddenly Bobby is loose. Sadly, this is where the film ends. What a fucking tease. Considering it was 13 years between Food of the Gods and its sequel, I can only hope that we may yet see The Story of Giant Bobby on the screen someday. I can even hear his swear words, if only shouted in my dreams.
Gnaw is one of those movies that begs the question "Is this bad on purpose?"- at times it seems delightfully self-aware, and I thought perhaps it was supposed to be a comedy. At other times, however, the material is treated with a dead seriousness that leaves you confused. It really doesn't matter; any movie that features a giant fake hand hitting someone is like a gift from the gods. Like Food of the Gods...holy crap, I totally get THAT! I could write a thesis on this movie! I give it 7 out of 10 Who wants to join The Club of Me?s.