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This is a remarkable little movie. I didn't really expect much when I started watching it - after all it's a low-budget sci-fi spoof made in rather obscure circumstances. But it truly is excellent. It's finely written, well executed, and very, very funny - I stopped the playback of the movie numerous times just to give myself time to savour some of the great moments and laugh at them properly without missing anything else. The script is consistently sharp and intelligent... and the movie also has the other two requisites of great comedy - well-judged timing and high quality straight-men. It's sort of a spoof on old sci-fi movies such as The Thing and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers... but that's only the start... the movie just has an off-kilter insight into human craziness that's not quite like anything. Actually the film to which it bears the closest comparison is the Rocky Horror Picture Show... although it's not a musical. Still I could easily imagine audiences watching Top Of The Food Chain over and over again and reciting their favourite lines along with the characters. Unfortunately this probably won't happen... it's an obscure movie, and will probably lapse into oblivion without ever finding much of an audience - which would be a great shame... so go out of your way to see it - you won't regret it.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It is the best spoof on B Sci-fi movies I can think of. The deadpan delivery of Campbell Scott, as well as the twists and turns never get old. Nigel Bennett is also a great addition as the vacuum salesman. I just had to buy the DVD so I could watch it over and over. I rate it a 10/10.
I am going with the majority view on this title. I went in having no real idea what to expect from this film and enjoyed the film immensely. The comedy is silly and off the wall. A very good comedy for those that liked Kids in the Hall. Worth a look!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Top of the Food Chain" is an astounding movie. Incredibly funny, it managed
to keep my interest up for the entire 90 minutes. I have never seen the kind
of movie that it satirizes, but I had a pretty good image of what to expect.
I got a whole lot more.
The acting is just wonderful. Campbell Scott is very effective as always serious atomic professor (the script emphasizes "atomic" as much as possible) Karel Lamonte. Fiona Leowi (Sandy) is interesting as his kinky heterosexual interest. Tom Everett Scott (Guy) is completely over-the-top as her idiot brother who has an amorous relationship with both his sister and the professor.
The script is ingeniously dumb. It is exactly as it should be. The special effects are cheesy and not believable. Just like they were supposed to be. You will hear pompous explanations to unexplained facts, you will laugh at the aliens' completely black eyes.
And the final scene is stunning. Who do you think the professor marries? If you answered 'Sandy', you are wrong. If you said 'Guy', you are wrong again. It is both of them. Don't ask why or how. Also, everyone who had been killed by the aliens attends the wedding. They had been brought back to life through 'resuscitation'. Best would have been not to explain it at all, I would have loved it even more.
A much deserved 10/10.
'Top of the food chain' is a parody of the science fiction movies of the 50s which preceded the horror stories a few decades before Polanski and the gang turned horror into a genre that cannot be ignored. It makes clear from the beginning that it is not to be taken too seriously, and keeps all over an air of freshness and authenticity, avoiding any computerized special effects. It looks like a film of the 50s with a smile, the only real big miss, but a big one is the lack of a more effective humor. Gags like the ones in this film seem too innocent to viewers have seen the heavier parody stuff of the last years. The team of anonymous actors does a decent job, among them best was in my opinion Fiona Loewi who really catches the attention and deserves some better or broader distributed roles.
Top of the Food Chain (A.K.A. Invasion!) is a very wacky film, but I recommend it to anyone with a good sense of humor, especially if you like parodies. The humor is delivered deadpan but takes turns you'd never guess. There are all the clichéd characters you could expect in a B-grade horror movie - the religious nut, the pompous scientist, the surly policeman, various suspicious characters, and the smart and spunky love interest - but each of them deviates from the norm in their own way. This is a low-budget film but that actually is a strength for a parody of other low-budget films. This is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. It reminds me of Airplane, although it's more subdued and yet more daring in its humor. Rent it if you get the chance.
I'd given up hope, after a decade and a half, of ever seeing another John
Paizs film and I've contented myself with frequent repeat viewings of
CRIMEWAVE, far and away the funniest Canadian movie ever made. FOOD
local release on Friday came, to put it mildly, as a happy surprise. Its
credits aren't as auteurish so I suspect his shrewd collaborators got
what must've been a hard sell of this unique talent. To the best of my
knowledge, or at least taste, there's no other director, including his
brilliant fellow Manitoban Guy Maddin, who can take such deadpan,
shamelessly bizarre humour and make it so side-splitting.
To dispute its absolute originality, TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN shares a craziness of concept with 1984's BIG MEAT EATER, another micro-budget Canuck item (something in our water?) Rather than the conventional smug mockery of 50s drive-in sci-fi (oh look at Woody and the giant tit, how droll and cunning) these films strive to be, in look and feel, a modern day continuation of a time-locked genre that had logic and principles of its very own, though so free form that comic expression can flourish on a wide open range. While MEAT EATER, a delightful though haphazardly directed mess, was marginally a musical remake of PLAN 9, FOOD CHAIN takes its initial premise from from the interesting ASTOUNDING SHE MONSTER, complete with the strangely lit alien sexpot in the woods and main characters that are somewhat similar to the ones here. It's clear that the actors are in improvisation heaven but Paizs, in the tradition of Altman and Morrissey at their best, never lets them stray from his story telling vision. And what a vision: this is like MARAT/SADE! It's a 50s monster melodrama concieved, produced and acted out by mental patients!
Not a single character in this movie even attempts to approximate socially acceptable behavior, nor does anyone, even on a good guy/villain level, ever question one another's unusualness. Sexual obsessions spring up all over the place but are pointedly ignored in terms of detail, as if Paizs is taking on the role of gossippy spinster aunt who knows where to cut things off for decency's sake. It doesn't stop there. He interrupts things, though briefly enough to maintain the flow, to point out things of visual interest, like a hideously familiar faux-wicker basket full of saltines, that you just know you once saw in your own childhood home. He actually has the gall to reuse enjoyed props within the same sequence: a bright pink hugely finned bulgemobile ('59 Pontiac?) appears in the background during both takes on an opposite-angled dialogue. Even the FX showcase at the grand climax, suitably tacky looking by today's standards, he undermines with swift dispatch that makes it clear that the characters are far more interested in each other's activities of the moment than any impending doom.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This full-colour comedy satirizes the old black-and-white science
fiction films that you might see if you watch Mystery Science Theatre,
succeeding where the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra failed. First of all, the
dialogue and visual jokes come fast, relying on our ability to
recognize allusions to Silence of the Lambs, Monty Python, This Island
Earth and so on. Deliberately oversimplified science jargon and
repetitious rambling one-man soliloquies feature briefly but do not
make the majority of the script, making a nod to the style of the birth
of the B-movie genre without letting it overburden its listeners.
Top of the Food Chain features several of the easily recognizable character tropes: Dr. Karel Lamonte is an "Atomic Scientist from Atomic University", a bespectacled and timid young man who loses said glasses, starts looking a bit more muscular and starts spouting 1950's hero-clichés and barking orders partway through the film. As you watch, however, you see that a man this straight-laced and stiff is sexually repressed to the point of ridiculousness, making it impossible for him to respond properly to the female love interest's perfectly obvious advances. The love interest, Sandy, is Exceptional Vista's femme fatale but over-sexualized to the point where she is a raging nymphomaniac involved with practically every man in town. Other clichés abound as we meet the cop character who is suspicious of the FBI, the small town men who are offended by the "big city" scientist. These clichés are often turned on their heads. At several points in the film Sandy makes it known that she is every bit as bright as the professor, but this is ignored by all. In another example, it is mentioned that the city coroner vivisected himself (and then filled out the required paperwork before he keeled over: a true citizen!) and the so-called "uneducated cop" has been performing all of the town's autopsies since (although when he inspects human remains at one point he uses kitchen cutting boards and eats crackers at the time.)
This movie lampoons alien-centric films, government conspiracy-centric films, genetic engineering and sasquatch-centric films, horror films, action films, and mid-1900s' Hollywood. It is dialogue-heavy and relies on the viewers understanding the jokes regarding chauvinistic attitudes, propagandist nationalist/stupidly simplified scientific language, and sexual innuendo that permeate the interactions between characters. This is a funny film, but only if you have a feel for the genre. If you're looking for high-action, special effects or potty humour directed at pre-pubescent teens, you won't find it here. If you want a funny satire of 1950s sci-fi then you're in for a treat.
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first, but after it started
found myself laughing my ass off throughout the whole movie.
It's as B as a movie can be, it's cheesie and it's awesome.
If you liked this, I'd check out Psycho Beach Party and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.
In my area, this movie is available to rent as "Invasion!" It also has a
holographic box, and the picture of Campbell Scott looks eerily like Martin
Sheen. Don't let any of these factors deter you from renting the movie. It
is a little known gem. Even video clerks don't know about it, they'll look
on you with scorn when you bring it to the counter. But it's worth their
scorn, trust me.
This movie parodies the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as other 50's sci fi classics. But it doesn't just do a basic plot parody with dumb jokes plastered over it, a la Airplane or other Hollywood broad parodies. Top of the Foodchain gets into little details, like making fun of how all men in 50's sci fi seem to have traditionally female names (see cast list) or the bizarre, ham handed way that those movies dole out religious platitudes and hypocritically pro- and anti-science ideology.
Campbell Scott is, as usual, dead on in his mimicry -- this time of 50's leading man mannerisms. He's got the reassuring shoulder clap *down*. Every little nuance of this movie is brilliant and surprisingly innovative in spite of the fact that the movie is a spoof. I'm giving credit to the Canadians on this one. I doubt this movie would have been as funny or insane had it been done in the States. Do not miss Invasion! or Top of the Food Chain or whatever it's called in your neighborhood. It is smart, funny and will always be one of my personal all time favorite rentals.
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