When an extensively damaged caravan and a little girl deep
in shock are discovered on the edge of the desert, a professor
and his doctor daughter show up at the local police department
to begin their own investigation. As more deaths and damage
occurs, the team is joined by an FBI agent and then the army.
Their worst nightmares are realised when they are confronted
with the horror of rapidly multiplying giant ants...
is the difference between a 1950's b-movie turkey and a remembered
classic? Happy accident or careful planning? A multitude of
science fiction and horror films were turned out during that
decade of cold war suspicion and uncertainty. Some were so
bad they were good (Plan 9 From Outer Space and Attack
of the 50 Foot Woman), most were just plain bad, and then
there were the undisputed classics (The Day the Earth Stood
Still and The Incredible Shrinking Man). While
Them! is not quite in the league of the last two mentioned
films, it is a very effective movie.
There is nothing accidental about its achievements; for the
director Gordon Douglas, it wasn't simply a case of zipping
up some men into rubber suits and pushing them in front of
the camera. It's evident that the cast and crew care about
the story and the very real impending peril that drives it.
Okay, so don't expect too much from the ants; they lumber
and loom when they should be running around at breakneck speed.
The mandibles don't move, and the antennae flop about like
they've been injected with a local anaesthetic. However, the
creatures are intelligently filmed in long shots or extreme
close-ups, so as to conceal their failings.
concept of giant ants is perceived as a major threat by the
viewer through expert information imparted by the professor.
Formic acid is pumped into the victims via a stinger. An ant
can lift several times its own weight (perhaps throwing a
few cars around was beyond the budget!). After a single mating,
a queen can lay thousands of eggs; this can produce several
more queens who fly the nest to other areas. Proof of this
arrives when, after destroying the original nest, it's discovered
two queens have escaped. One wreaks havoc on a naval warship,
whereas James Arness, Joan Weldon and company trace the second
to the storm drains beneath Los Angeles. The professor points
out that within days ants could take over as the dominant
species on earth.
I love films like this, because every so often the producers
just let go and have fun. Enter the overly dramatic music,
lines of jeeps (the same ones) speeding up and down roads,
a major character saving two boys before accidentally-on-purpose
flinging himself into the clutches of an ant for an heroic
demise, and the professor quoting The Bible: "... and
the Beast shall rule over the earth."
With a film as old as this you'd be excused for expecting
no extra features. Here we get a lengthy trailer, a photo
gallery and some test footage of the ants. Great
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