Top of the Food Chain (1999) Poster

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A very funny movie that exceeds expectations in every way - see it!
xorys17 October 2000
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.
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A very wacky, entertaining film
okelydokely219 May 2004
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.
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A Classic!
gunchick17 May 2003
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.
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Recommended for sci-fi movie buffs, particularly if you liked MST3K
Katherine Howard29 October 2006
Warning: 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.
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making fun of the sci-fi movies of the 50s
dromasca13 April 2008
'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.
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Good Sci-fi Comedy
mhawfield-215 September 2000
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!
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silly, yet masterful fun
negeati11 March 2000
Warning: 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.
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One of the best movies ever
rage_a_holic5 January 2004
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first, but after it started I 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.
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dialogue-driven, giddy silliness
Bishop515 March 2000
The 'let's make fun of 50's monster movies' thing has been done to death but TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN is a surprising and total delight. Where most comedies lately work with visual shock and gross-out gags, the humour in this movie--often as shockingly hilarious as anything by the Farrelly brothers--is almost completely verbal. The lines fly by with dizzying speed--a barrage of bad puns, silly one-liners, kinky innuendo and loony non-sequiteurs that had my head spinning! And the fact that it's a Canadian film is the cherry on the cake. Go see it!
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Good Cheese
Rick-7929 February 2000
I saw this movie completely expecting it to be stupid, idiotic trash. Instead, I got stupid idiotic fun. See this with a group, don't take it seriously, and expect the unexpected in addition to every sci-fi/horror cliche you can think of. The cast and crew obviously had fun making this, it shows in every scene.
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Cheesy 50's sci-fi today!
Shell-4128 February 2000
This movie is an parody of those cheesy sci-fi movies of the 1950s, and while you can't see any zippers on the alien costumes or strings on UFOs, it does seem alot like them. The bad dialogue, intentionally bad acting, and lots of mumbo-jumbo science, it all combines to make a wonderfully hilarious film. Don't see this film if you don't like seeing human insides on the outside, rampant sexuality, or if you don't have a good sense of humor.
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ingenious sci fi parody
hannah-412 April 2002
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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Better Than You Think.
WALLACEKJ15 January 2002
I just saw this film and really had no idea what to expect. I watched it twice and found that I really enjoyed it. Its a strange, funny little tale. I really thought it was going to be dumb. But as turns out I really liked it.
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A rare combination of hilarity and human entrails
delphine-21 June 2000
I didn't know exactly what to expect going into this and was slightly wary as spoofs can sometimes be just a one-note joke and after the first few might make you smile or think 'hmmm yes that was clever and amusing. But this was truly hilarious and laugh out loud funny.

I agree much of it was silly fun, but there was some more subtle humour. I don't think it was an accident the aliens at the end looked like they walked out of a Gap ad, which I thought was one of the funniest things in the film.
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Policeman Gail
ant bee10 October 2002
I watch this movie every time I can find it on any of the movie channels. I think one of the funniest moments in this film is Policeman Gail's little diddy he sings as he is walking up to the door of the house of his "main squeeze". I don't believe anyone has ever expressed self confidence in a more twisted way.
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michael.will12 March 2000
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 CHAIN's 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 behind 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.
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Vidar S (m00nsinger)1 February 2003
I picked this up in sales-crate at my local video store. Under genre it said :Splatter satire. This caught my attention.

The sci-fi spoofs are great, and the dialogue is genius. Campbell Scott plays a great Atomic Scientist and Fiona Loewi plays the sexy bed and breakfast hostess beautifully. Not only is she sexy, but even though she has an incestous relationship with her brother, you would still like to date her.

This movie is for people who understands irony (which apparently some IMDB-users haven't), and like the splatter genre. Though it isn't by far a hard-core splatter, the scenes that are gory, works very well.

Watch it as a comedy and as a caricature of old sci-fi movies.
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Jan Bathgate once caught a fish the shape of my head.
KevinRnnr26 April 2008
What can I say? This movie is one of my all-time favorites. With classic lines such as: "I found a dead body, deceased, in the bumpy part of town, outside of town." "The creature that killed him had anywhere between two hundred and two hundred and two teeth, but I can't be any more specific than that." "Jan Bathgate once caught a fish the shape of my head." "Why- these are Jan Bathgate's undergarments! I would know these anywhere! They have that easy opening trap door....What? A man's entitled to a little sexual experimentation in his golden years!" ..and kudos to the entire cast for wonderful, perfectly eccentric performances.

--You just can't go wrong with this one. Every single friend that I've shared this movie with has loved it as much as I, and there's so many little treats you pick up on in repeat viewings...I honestly feel sorry for any individual who just didn't get this movie, but they probably never will. (I guess thats the point, really.) Oh well. Enjoy.
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Hyena_11 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Reading the list of comments I found only one negative response. I find it very surprising that it comes from someone who's familiar with Plan 9 From Outer Space. If you like bad movies (for laughs, of course) I can't see how you could dislike this movie. I guess some people just don't have the patience (or brain power) for jokes that are subtle.

My personal favourite part of this movie is the "prayer" that Sandy delivers in song. Heh heh. I memorized it. Those who plan to see the movie shouldn't read this next part, as it contains many spoilers. :)

"They say that in Rupert's Land They found our Lady of Fatima's Hat. Holy Mary, Mother of God. They found your hat, How did it come off your head? Did you sneeze, Or drive in a convertable? Did a gust of wind take it away, Or were you eaten by aliens?"

As if the lyrics weren't hilariously nonsensical enough, the song's melody also bounces haphazardly. Listening to it just brings so many questions to a logical person's mind. Why is she praying about aliens? Why would this mysterious angelic matriarch be driving in a convertable? Why is it a song? Just brilliant on so many levels.

And of course, I love how they glaze over the fact that you can't tell what country they live in. The city is Exceptional Vista in Left Hemisphere, and the secret agent who aids them in finding the "moonmen" works for the "National Government", which is of course written on his ID card.

What I especially love is when Sandy points out a plot hole, after Karel tries to explain how "cool fusion" works.

I'd recommend this to everyone. Even to those who don't get it and find it unfunny. Maybe someday they'll learn.
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Absolutely Loved It!
LadyT10 March 2000
I got to see this movie when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. I went there for basically one reason--I wanted to see Nigel Bennett (one of my favorite actors) on the big screen. However, I was absolutely blown away by the movie.

I laughed all the way through the movie. It was funny, it was cheesy; it not only poked fun at all the bad B-movie sci-fi/horror flicks of the 50s and 60s, but it even poked fun at itself.

It's a spoof, it's fun, it's entertainment. Don't expect deep psychological drama--go to smile and laugh. Believe me, I did!
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War of the Worlds meets Twin Peaks meets Airplane!
Jim Manson16 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I picked up this movie on a whim at the local video store knowing nothing at all about it. I'm glad I did. This has to be one of the funniest movies I've seen in the past year.

It's hard to even know where to begin. The basic plot is simple. A small town that is dying out is invaded by aliens with a taste for humans.

Minor spoiler- one joke from the movie ahead!

All in all a simple premise. The genius of this movie lies in the acting and the dialogue. The town's people are completely crazy in the most interesting ways. The actors carry it off perfectly. The lead, Campbell Scott, has a deadpan delivery that is hilarious given some of the lines he has in the movie. The end of the movie is stolen however by Tom Everett Scott who delivers one of the most amazing performances I've seen lately. I was in serious pain from laughing by the final credits.

The humor is of the quirky kind, similar to some of the work of John Cleese. It's based on absurdity but also on incongruity.

If the idea of an "atomic scientist" trying to stall attacking alien monsters by welcoming them to Earth and describing some of the interesting flora and fauna to be found here, such as the wily skunk which comes in three types, tickles your funny bone then you need to see this movie.

It's not for everyone but if you like British humor I'd give it a shot.
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i believe in torture
itaipu411 August 2007
this is not a comedy,this is not a spoof,whoever titles it as that should have corrective brain surgery asap,this is without a doubt a movie that was shot in the running time,with no script whatsoever,why i am wasting so many words on this turkey is beyond me,oh my god people,this rating i see is so sad,Slither was funny,but this amateur home shot movie is an insult to even amateurs,and this movie proves beyond a doubt,that man has not stepped on the moon in light of this turkey,good lord you people are terribly bored or lacking in oxygen,i wish there was a rating below 1,this rating owes us a few points,a spoof? on what?
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It's not stupid
guy-4210 August 2004
This movie is not stupid or miserable or foolish. It is extremely clever; a modern social satire disguised as a 50's sci-fi spoof. As silly as "Top of the Food Chain" appears on the surface, it deals with serious issues. It warns us to beware of blind faith in our religious, political and scientific establishments. It presents a coherent argument that faith in our institutions is insufficient, when the truth is that no comforting belief system can stand up to an alternative. If God created all life as the Bible tells us, then God also created the aliens who want to destroy us. But they couldn't want to destroy us because we are created in his/her image, and we are alone. We are alone in the Universe according to the Bible. ...If you don't see the point of this film, then perhaps you are the one who is stupid, miserable and foolish.
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Awful, awful ,awful, awful... awful!
ZombieRanger12 March 2010
I found this DVD entitled "Invasion" for 5 bucks in a discount bin rotting beneath copies of public domain cartoons and questionably licensed workout videos. Thinking that I might have found a neglected gem, and since I sort of recognized that one guy from "Dead Man on Campus", I bought it and brought it home for a viewing. I can't fully go into why this was so terrible, only that the 'humor' contained in it was so abysmal and anti-funny, that I have to question whether the writer was in fact an alien and that's how comedy worked on their planet. Imagine a confused half-conscious David Lynch directing a comedy written by a first year film student who made it halfway through their modern feminism course before switching to social economics, who then tells every actor to perform their roles like Ren & Stimpy side characters. This movie set off a resentment towards Canada within me that I never knew I had, or perhaps didn't have before watching this garbage. I'm now an emptier, more bitter human being than I was before watching this. I'm going to set fire to this DVD, bury the ashes and salt the earth. That should sum things up!
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Hilarious to some, a big "What the?!" to others
jimevarts29 November 2007
I've watched this movie twice and I've shared it with others. I personally think it's one of the funniest movies I know of. I love movies where the movie acts like it thinks it's serious but what happens is so goofy and outrageous that everything seems twice as funny. Airplane! comes to mind. This is more like maybe Shaun of the Dead mixed with Airplane! though. It's dark, weird, and campy. Some of the people I loaned this to thought it was the stupidest movie they'd ever seen and others said they loved it. I'd say if you like Army of Darkness, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mars Attacks or Shaun of the Dead, I think you'll like this. If you sat through Mars Attacks and someone else giggled the whole time while you said, "This is a weird movie" you probably won't like it. Having said that, I love this movie so much I bought it, lost it, and bought it again, and can't wait to get my replacement DVD.
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