HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Them! Ant attack
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 FictionBuy from Amazon
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 5687 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: