Giant Animals and Teen Exploitation In HG Wells Film Adaptations

Giant Animals and Teen Exploitation In H.G. Wells Film Adaptations

When Animals Attack!  H.G Wells food of the Gods meets B-movie Mogul Bert I Gordon – It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!  Watch original video.

I will never disparage inaccurate predictions made by science fiction writers who grew up by candle and kerosene in the 19th century. The greats including Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H.D Wells had very little relevant science to go by. That being said, they still managed to get a few things right which is quite an accomplishment. I believe that H.G Wells was the first writer to introduce the theory of anti-gravity and science fiction in his 1901 book “First Men in the Moon.” In the story, a scientist creates Cavarite, a metal that Shields Against Gravity more like a gravity blocker. Since then, thousands of writers have used anti-gravity theory in novels, stories, movies, and TV shows.

Giant Creature Features

food-of-the-godsNeedless to say, Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the most famous novels of all time and quite possibly holds the record for TV and film adaptations. It is as relevant today as the time it was published in 1818, over 200 years ago. While the 1950s saw dozens of giant creature features starring colossal insects and mega monsters mutated by nuclear radiation.  The 1970s replaced radiation for pollution and ushered in an amusing era of overgrown Critters with schlock B movie director Bert I Gordon leading the pack. But Gordon’s success in this sci-fi sub-genre owes its entire existence to one man: late 19th century – early 20th century science fiction Master H.G Wells. Born in England in 1866, Wells is rightfully famous for such masterworks as the War of the Worlds and the island of Dr Moreau which we will cover in a later episode. However, a lesser-known novel titled the “Food of the Gods” published in 1904 would end up inspiring at minimum a few dozen Sci-Fi movies of varying degrees of quality in the latter part of the 20th century, many of them directed by Bert I Gordon.

Early Bert I. Gordon Movies

Gordon was born in 1922 while Wells was still very much alive he was no doubt inspired by the British author’s novels and in particular Wells’ “The food of the Gods.” Gordon was also obsessed with giant monsters as evidenced by his first feature films including “King Dinosaur” in 1955. “The Cyclops 1957, Amazing Colossal Beast 1957, and others.

Village of the giants -Ackerman with a pair of friends

Village of the giants- Forest Ackerman hanging with a pair of friends.


But it wasn’t until 1965 that Gordon made his first adaptation of Wells the food of the Gods in the form of a teen exploitation flick called Village of the Giants starring Tommy Kirk, Ron Howard, Beau Bridge,s and the titillating Joy Harmon. Bert I Gordon soon earned the title of Mr Big. In the film a nerdy kid called genius creates a growth compound that results in gigantic animals a group of teenage delinquents get their hands on the compound and their giant size make them a terrifying threat to the townsfolk.

Village of the Giants

Despite its crude low budget effects, Village of the Giants is well worth watching as a textbook example of 1960s teen exploitation films. In the Wells book the food of the Gods the substance called Heracliophobia is created by scientists that grow children and inadvertently other animals into giant mutations. Eventually the town’s folk grow to resent the Giant children and the Monstrous changes to the local fauna. The book is largely thought to be more of a satire than a serious work of Science Fiction on Wells part. A quote from – “Wells takes pot shot at every member of society: scientists, ministers, charitable heiresses, revolutionaries, and everyone in between. Yet, in the end, Wells shows his faith in both humanity and its never ceasing progress.” But Bert I Gordon wasn’t satisfied with one adaptation of Wells’ novel. Ten Years After Village of the Giants, he directed The Food of the Gods starring Marjo Gortner and Ida Lupino. This 1976 B movie Extravaganza finds football star Gortner taking a little vacation on an island only to discover that the place is crawling with oversized Critters who have eaten the naturally occurring growth compound bubbling forth from the earth behind Ida lupino’s Ranch. Like any quick thinking entrepreneur, she’s bottling this stuff while giant wasps, rats, and chickens dispatch the town folk in gruesome and sometimes hilarious ways.

Empire of the Ants

empire of the antsGordon still wasn’t satisfied. He came back a year later in 1977 with “Empire of the ants” starring Joan Collins and Robert Lansing. This time, the titular monster hymenoptera or giant ants terrorizing people in the Florida Everglades.

According to IMDb it looks like a new adaptation of the food of the Gods is in development. Not much info is given except a tantalizing image on the movie page. Guaranteed there will be a ton of CGI but perhaps they’ll throw in some animatronics and other practical effects.
We shall see. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Room 101. As always, please like, share, and subscribe. Thank you.
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