HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Five Fingers for Marseilles
Jupiter's Moon
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
Robert the Bruce
Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, The
Kindergarten Teacher, The
Carne
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Them! Ant attackBuy this film here.
Year: 1954
Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: Edmund Gwenn, James Whitmore, James Arness, Joan Weldon, Sandy Descher, Onslow Stevens, Sean McClory, Fess Parker, Chris Drake, Leonard Nimoy
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Arguably the greatest giant bug movie of all time, Them! opens with a traumatized little girl (Sandy Descher) found wandering the desert. Investigating the ghost town from whence she came, compassionate cop Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) loses his partner (Chris Drake) to a mystery monster. Stoic F.B.I. guy Robert Graham (James Arness) latches onto the case because the kid’s slain father was a fellow agent, while a plaster cast of a peculiar imprint draws father-and-daughter science boffins, Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn, a.k.a. Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and Dr. Pat Medford (Joan Weldon), from the Department of Agriculture.

Gutsy Pat is first to stumble onto the desert-dwelling giant ants, mutated by atomic bomb tests. The army scrambles quickly to flush out the nest, but a group of flying ants escape to found a fresh colony somewhere beneath Los Angeles - waiting to take over the entire city.

Although The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) kicked off the Fifties’ cycle of atomic monster movies, Them! stands as the genre’s first true classic. Warner Bros. originally intended to film in 3-D (hence the absence of optical effects in favour of surprisingly scary large-size puppets) and Technicolor, but studio head Jack Warner loathed the script and quashed that idea. The film subsequently became the studio’s biggest hit of 1954, proving Warner didn’t know jack.

Gordon Douglas was a capable, if workmanlike filmmaker as evidenced by his run of Frank Sinatra vehicles during the 1960s, although he could surprise with an occasional oddity like The Detective (1968) or Skullduggery (1970) and is at his most inspired with this brisk, exciting chiller. The build-up is eerily sustained as Whitmore’s dogged cop prowls the empty shacks amidst howling winds and scary noises twittering across the desert. The fog-filled tunnels where monsters lunge out of the shadows or are blasted with bazookas remain thrilling to this day and surely influenced James Cameron on Aliens (1986).

Aside from a sly and subtle reoccurring gag about the ants raiding sugar stores, the film admirably avoids camp. Instead, doddery Dr. Medford adds warm humour and humanity, while everyone else is a model of Fifties efficiency. The script walks a tightrope between ominous warnings about what further mutations could arise and celebrating square-jawed American heroism. Everybody agrees keeping quiet about the mutant menace is the best way to avoid widespread panic, as frazzled pilot Alan Crotty (Fess Parker - future star of Disney’s Davy Crockett) is temporarily confined to an insane asylum after sighting the ants. A few decades later such government action would be seen as deeply suspect.

While the script never explicitly questions the necessity of atomic testing, Them! remains a progressive film in other areas. Though Ben and Robert clock Pat’s legs as she steps out of an aeroplane, this ranks among the least sexist Fifties’ sci-fi and gives her a chance to display heroism. Just one year away from his five decade stint in TV’s Gunsmoke, James Arness is a towering, all-action hero while Whitmore musters grace notes of compassion, before the justly celebrated climax in the storm drains beneath Los Angeles, where flaming ants look spectacular and one hero makes a valiant sacrifice. Lookout for a young Leonard Nimoy as one of the soldiers.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3297 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: