As Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 has cinema-goers looking more closely at their popcorn, Sky Movies throws up some other freaky foodstuff for you to chew over.
Based on the classic children’s book, 2009’s hit Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a masterclass in wonderful, inventive and surreal animation. Eccentric inventor (is there any other kind?) Flint Lockwood builds a machine that turns water into food causing it to rain sustenance across the town of Swallow Falls.
With the much-anticipated sequel in cinemas this week, and with Flint’s machine now infesting a jungle island with living, breathing, hunting food-animal hybrids, we take a look at some of our other favourite movies that feature mutant foods. Time to break out the Gaviscon.
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man - GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
One of the best, most successful comedies of all time may yet be getting a second sequel, but whatever ghostbusting nemesis the writers may create, it will not be as devilishly malevolent, or as deliciously tasty as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Bustin’ makes me feel good. As does a tasty blend of sugar, corn syrup and gelatin.
When Gozer, the New York-based Sumerian demon gives the Busters the opportunity to pick the form of the apocalypse, who are they gonna call? Well, the portly Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) can’t help but think of his favourite (fictional) marshmallow brand. Cataclysm in confectionery form.
The Giant Peach - JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1996)
James and the Giant Peach was animation genius Henry Selick’s second film as director, and remains one of Disney’s most underrated films.
A gloriously surreal and imaginative tale sees unhappy orphan James Henry Trotter spill a mysterious concoction over a peach tree which causes one of the fruits to grow to an epic size. Escaping his evil aunts with the help of the animals who live inside the peach, he sets off an adventure over land and sea that takes him to the literal dizzy heights of New York. See kids? Fruit is good for you.
Produced by Tim Burton and based on a typically brilliant and dark novel by Roald Dahl, the film’s stylish, stylised animation is bookended by live action. Life’s a peach and then you fly.
Violent globes - ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (1978)
What a year 1978 was for horror - Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, I Spit On Your Grave and possibly the most terrifying of all, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. And you thought salad was good for you.
It was just a matter of time. Humanity had taken the humble tomato for granted. Complacency had set in. Not once did we think that the tomato, that most dangerous of fruits would eventually rise up against us in an effort to secure its rightful place at the top of the food chain.
Horror-comedy is a difficult genre to pull off…as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes certainly proves. The film does however possess an amateurish, manic enthusiasm that makes it almost watchable. Almost.
Something of a cult favourite, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes remains one of the most profitable films ever made, and spawned three sequels and a cartoon spin-off.
However, it garnered not a single Oscar nomination. Was Annie Hall really a better comedy? Er…yes.
A giant, angry chicken - THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976)
Loosely based on one of H.G. Wells’ lesser works, the mighty cult catastrophe The Food of the Gods remains a staple of Bad Film screenings the world over. And with good reason.
This risible, farcical science fiction cinematic disaster features 88 minutes of unintentional hilarity. A mysterious food emerges from the ground on a Canadian island, increasing the size of the animals that eat it. The locals are terrorised by giant wasps, mighty killer rats and most delightfully, a bad-tempered eight-foot chicken that attacks any human that enters its barn.
Colonel Sanders would be tumescent.
The enorma-vegetable patch - SLEEPER (1973)
In what remains Woody Allen’s most underrated and accessible film, Sleeper follows Miles Monroe, a health food shop owner who is accidentally cryogenically frozen and awoken 200 years later in a dystopian future.
It’s a stunning comedy that gives Allen plenty of opportunity to channel his inner silent comedian, featuring a terrific scene worthy of Buster Keaton himself. Having escaped from the science complex, Miles tries to sate two centuries of hunger by tackling some oversized fruit and vegetables growing outside, earning the ire of the allotment’s owner. The fight that ensues culminates in the immortal line, “My God, I beat a man insensible with a strawberry”
And there’s yet another giant chicken. Peerless.
Sweets and chocolates - WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)
Despite Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s best efforts, Gene Wilder easily remains the definitive Willy Wonka, in this terrific, timeless musical based on Roald Dahl’s beloved novel.
When the lucky Golden Ticket holders first enter the Wonka factory, they are met by a world of pure imagination - an entirely edible landscape, plus a river of chocolate that proves too tempting for the Teutonic tubster, Augustus Gloop. The whole place is a sweet-toothed diabetic’s most tortuous nightmare.
Not many people know that Wonka also has a shadow factory that manufacturers insulin to maximise the profits at both ends.
Magic beans - JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013)
One of the original mutant food tales, Jack and the Beanstalk is the story of an idiot boy who swaps a cow for some beans, climbs a treacherous plant, and is nearly killed by a giant when he breaks into his house to steal his valuable stuff. The moral of this fairytale is: Stupidity is its own reward when you’re a burglar.
Admittedly, in Bryan Singer big budget fantasy adventure update, that moral is tweaked into a coming of age story. Though we still get those magic beans and the quick-growing stalks that almost bring destruction to the world. So it’s obviously an allegory about the dangers of genetically modified food. Er…maybe.
The Gingerbread Man – SHREK (2001)
Do you know The Muffin Man? The Muffin Man who lives in Drury Lane? If you do, then you know the nefarious creator of one of cinema’s most terrifying characters. Indeed, what food could be more mutant than a sweet, baked good that emits an eerie, haunting screech? The Gingerbread Man is just begging for his own horror spin off.
Just look at him. He may be sweet BUT LOOK AT HIS DEAD EYES. Impassive - like a serial killer hiding in the wardrobe, about to pounce. Make no mistake, ‘Gingy’ is scarier than the prospect of an Adam Sandler movie marathon.