Notes: American International Pictures. 88 minutes.
MPAA rating: PG.
Directed: Bert I. Gordon
Produced: Bert I. Gordon
Screenplay: Bert I. Gordon
Based on a portion of a novel by H.G. Wells.
Morgan: Marjoe Gortner
Lorna: Pamela Franklin
Jack Bensington: Ralph Meeker
Brian: Jon Cypher
Mrs. Skinner: Ida Lupino
Rita: Belinda Balaski
Thomas: Tom Stovall
Davis: Chuck Courtenay
Mr. Skinner: John McLiam
The movie starts with Morgan talking. "My name is Morgan, and I play football. We worked our butts off trying to get it together for the big Sunday game, so the coach told us to knock it off and relax for a couple days. One of my teammates, Davis, came up with the idea that we head out to the island, and went ahead to make the arrangements. I talked our PR man Brian into coming along. I felt the day off would do him some good, too." This sets up how they end up on some island in British Columbia. Morgan continues, "It'll be great to be in the country again and enjoy some of the open spaces that man hasn't screwed up with his technology. My father used to say, 'Morgan, one of these days the earth will get even with man for messing her up with his garbage. Just let man continue to pollute the earth the way he is and nature will rebel. That's going to be one helluva rebellion.' Of course, I never took him seriously, but I still remember the way he looked at me when he said, 'You'll never know when and where it's gonna happen, and once it starts you'll never know how and where it'll stop.' It's funny how my father's prediction comes to mind when I go to the country, like today." Hmm, I think this is called foreshadowing . . .
Now we have the three men on horseback following a couple dogs
chasing a small island deer. The dogs corner it, and Morgan,
being the first to arrive, shoos it off. Davis is ticked because
he wants to kill it, and Morgan says, "Aw, c'mon, Davis,
we won, the poor bastard lost; what more do you want?" But
Davis is determined to get that deer, and he follows it into the
woods. Soon the dogs get upset and run away, then his horse spooks,
and then he falls off (even though the horse is standing still
at this point). He's now alone and looks up to see wasps the
size of domestic house cats descending upon him. One attaches
itself to his back and he goes down. Brian and Davis find him
looking dead and puffy. "You stay with him, Brian, I'll
be right back," Morgan says, leaving Brian to fend for himself.
Morgan rides up to a house. No one answers his knock at the door,
but he hears some noises in a shed and goes to investigate. No
sooner has he opened the door than he is set upon by a rooster
somewhat larger than the horse he rode here on. He kills it with
a pitchfork and comes out of the shed without a scratch. There
are a couple big white hens in there as well. He sees a woman,
Mrs. Skinner, watching him from the house. He asks where she
got those chickens, and she says he had no business in there.
He starts to leave because she doesn't have a phone, but she
wants him to come inside and look at something. She shows him
some rat holes and expresses concern that they've gotten into
the food. There's a bowl of glop and several jars with FOTG written
on them sitting on the table. A wasp is munching out of one of
them, and Morgan asks if that's what she's been feeding the chickens.
"The good Lord give it to us 'cause we're deservin' people,
and we pray regularly, we do."
Brian and Morgan head back on the ferry with Davis in the back
of the open Jeep wrapped in a blanket. Mr. Skinner is traveling
back to the island by ferry. Mrs. Skinner hears a clatter in
the kitchen and goes in to find some jars overturned. She starts
to clean up and finds some giant mealworms crawling around on
the shelf. They all get on her arm at once, and she stares at
them chowing down for some time. On his way home after dark,
Mr. Skinner gets a flat in his red Bug. He gets out to fix it,
hears some rustling in the bushes, shines his flashlight, and
sees a herd of pony-sized rats bearing down on him. He jumps
into his car. The rats break in, do some serious chewing, and
drag him off. Meanwhile, Morgan and Brian receive the doctor's
findings on Davis' death: he had wasp venom in his system equivalent
to 250 stings.
The next day, Lorna, a female bacteriologist, and Jack Bensington,
her boss, are driving out to a farm. Jack's driving, and he passes
a red VW Bug with the passenger door torn off and bits of gore
strewn about without even slowing. Then they come across a motorhome
stuck on the side of the road with a very pregnant woman trying
to flag them down, and Jack races on by. Lorna tells him how
insensitive he is, and he says they'll stop if the RV is still
there on their way back. They arrive at the farm and see that
something has broken into the shed and killed the chickens. Lorna
says she's really impressed, and Jack says, "Aw, I don't
know. You can't tell much when they're dead." No one answers
the door, so they wander into the house and see the dead larvae
in the sink. Mrs. Skinner shows up with a bandaged arm and tells
them about the worms, and the rats, and that Mr. Skinner didn't
come home last night. She leads them to a small spring of white
goo out in the yard. She explains the history of it. "When
we found out it weren't no oil, there was nothing to do about
it so we fed it to the chickens." Makes sense. Apparently
it only works on the young, growing animals, and they won't eat
it at all unless it's mixed with something else. Then the wasps
appear and they all run into the house.
Brian and Morgan are coming to ask Mrs. Skinner some more about
her big chickens, and they stop to help the couple, Rita and Tom,
in the motorhome. "Did you see them?" Rita asks. "It
was last night. They were right there in the middle of the road,
right in front of us. We almost hit one." Big rats, she
means. The guys want to take them to the farm, but they stay
with their vehicle. When Morgan and Brian get to Mrs. Skinner's
house, Jack is out front swinging a shovel at the wasps. Morgan
pulls one off Jack's back and he and Brian shoot the rest. Jack
gets defensive on the issue of the white goo because he sees Morgan
as a competitor for the rights to it, and Morgan threatens him
with charges of second degree murder if he's responsible for the
giant animals. Lorna's clearly aroused by the way Morgan handles
Jack. "You don't like women around when you're doing your
thing, do you?" she says to him. "What's my thing?"
he asks. "Facing danger," she replies. Meanwhile,
Rita feels the baby kick. Tom pressures her to marry him, and
she tells him no.
Morgan and Brian find the wasps' nest. There's a storm that night
and the rats are crawling around elsewhere on the island. The
boys go back to the nest and put incendiaries inside and set fire
to it; it explodes, then silence. Mrs. Skinner shows up to tell
them that the rats got Lorna. They came to the house, Lorna ran,
and she fell into one of their burrows. Jack says, "Is there
anything you didn't feed the food to, Mrs. Skinner?" She
says, "Oh, Lord, it's happened just as Mr. Skinner said it
would. The punishment--we, we sinned against nature." "The
only sin, Mrs. Skinner, is your goddamned stupidity!" says
Jack. "You're not a good man, Mr. Bensington," she
replies. They drop a rope down the hole, then a rifle, and Morgan
climbs down to tie the rope around Lorna. Pulling her up goes
badly and she gets dropped back down. Brian goes down another
rat hole nearby. Morgan and Lorna wander along their own passage,
shoot a couple rats they encounter and beat another one to death,
then find Brian and make their way out. "Thanks to you two
we missed the last ferry," Jack complains.
The giant rats show up at the motorhome the next day. Rita and
Tom run away as the rats pile onto the RV. One giant white rat
watches everything from a distance. The couple runs out to the
farm, and Jack says they should just drive on through the rats.
Morgan takes his keys because Jack's car may be their only way
out, then suggests he and Brian go out in the Jeep to take a look.
"Maybe those kids exaggerated a little." Brian likes
Jack's plan and fails to see why checking out the situation in
an open vehicle is better than trying to plow on through in Jack's
car, but he goes along with Morgan anyway. They see a lot of
rats swarming the motorhome and head back. Back at the farm,
Jack's filling bottles with the white goo and Rita's feeling sick.
Morgan stops to shut a gate, then takes another road. Brian
says that's the way the rats are coming, and Morgan tells him
to relax. They see that the fence goes all the way down to the
water, but Brian doesn't think anything will stop them. Morgan
claims they can't swim because they're too heavy, and Brian says,
"Oh, come on, are you kidding? Have you ever seen movies
of a hippopotamus in the water? I should swim so well!"
Meanwhile Lorna's dutifully ragging on Jack about his selfish
greed. Tom blames himself for their situation and Rita's pregnancy.
Morgan has decided to attach a generator to the fence to electrify
it. The rats appear on the other side. They grab the fence for
awhile and then run off. The rats head for the water and find
they cannot swim after all. Morgan is suspicious because only
half the rats have come to the water. They head back to the generator
climbs down to tie the rope around Loand find various tree limbs and logs
on it. Morgan gets jumped
by a single rat, and Brian is set upon by several at once. Morgan
frees himself from his rat and starts shooting other rats. Apparently
by this time Brian's head has gone missing, so Morgan leaves his
body and drives off.
Jack is still loading up on white goo. Morgan arrives minus a
passenger. He starts dumping out all of Jack's goo. The rats
show up and gnaw on Jack, who's still fretting over his spilled
growth formula. The others board up the windows of the house,
and Tom and Morgan shoot at the rats through the windows. The
white rat watches from a distance again. They can't get any water
in the house because the rats have chewed through a pipe outside.
Tom isn't thrilled with Morgan's leadership style, and Morgan
starts making bombs. A rat bursts through the front door and
Lorna shoots it.
Lorna and Morgan have a private moment. "If I told you how
I felt right now, you'd think I was crazy," she says. "Tell
me." "I want you to make love to me. It is crazy,
isn't it, at a time like this." He kisses her and says,
"The first thing we'll do when we get back to the mainland
is continue this conversation, okay?"
Rita's getting morbid, talking about how she used to fantasize
all sorts of horrible ways to die, but this tops them all. Morgan
gets snippy with Tom and starts barking out orders. They both
run out the front door throwing bombs around and drive off in
the Jeep. The rats swarm the house again, chew on the walls.
Mrs. Skinner grabs a cleaver. A rat breaks into the kitchen
and she hacks and he chomps and they end up killing each other.
The roof creaks and breaks in. Lorna runs into the bedroom with
Rita and slams the door on a rat's head. She braces the door.
Morgan sets bombs on the dam Mrs. Skinner had apparently mentioned
to him at some point. They drive back to the farm. Meanwhile,
Rita gives birth to a boy. Tom and Morgan throw some more bombs
and shoot rats to get back into the house. They haul the women
upstairs and onto the roof just as a deluge of water comes along
to flood the island and drown the rats. A couple crawl onto the
safety of the roof and are shot. The white rat then appears on
the roof, but the boys are out of bullets, so Morgan beats it
with his rifle.
The waters have receded. Tom and Morgan are piling the rat carcasses
to burn them. "Well, I guess that's the end of them,"
Morgan says. Switch to two jars of FOTG being washed away, down
into a herd of cows. Morgan worries that they didn't get it all.
The movie ends as we watch a bunch of dairy cows being milked
and then some kids drinking milk in their school lunches.
Ouch! Something just hit me over the head. I think the message is that man is abusing the earth, and he's going to be sorry one day. We should just be thankful that no raccoons or snakes got into the food.
And those women, all they ever think about in a crisis situation
is sex, especially with assertive men. Don't they understand
that they'll get to have more sex in the long run if they survive?
It's called deferring gratification.
What We Learned: Nature's going to get us.