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Them!


Title: Them!
Year Of Release: 1954
Running Time: 93 minutes
DVD Released By: Warner Video
Directed By: Gordon Douglas
Writing Credits: Ted Sherdeman (screenplay), Russell S. Hughes (adaptation), George Worthing Yates (story)

Starring: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn Edmund Gwenn,Joan Weldon, James Arness
Taglines:
1. FANTASTIC MONSTERS ATTACK EARTH!
2. An Endless Terror! A Nameless Horror!
3. Kill one and two take its place!
4 . A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!
Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 6.25.20

Shadow's Title: "Gi-Antz"

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Characters
Sergeant Ben Peterson – A New Mexico State Trooper who starts things off by investigating some mysterious deaths and disappearances in the desert, including a guy who works for the FBI, and winds up in the upper echelons of command in the fight against the giant ants. He and his partner find an odd print in the desert that no one can identify. I bet there were times when he wished someone else had followed up on that initial report.
Robert Graham – He works for the FBI and is called in to help with the investigation when a fellow FBI employee goes missing while on vacation. He sends the strange print to Washington to get it identified. When the Medfords arrive, he instantly has an eye for Pat. He also smokes up a storm. The ants might not have claimed him, but I wonder if lung cancer probably did.
Doctor Harold Medford – He works for the Department of Agriculture and was able to identify the strange print found in the desert. He doesn’t want to reveal what he knows until he is absolutely sure of his theories, which upsets the others who are eager to know who or what is killing people in the desert. He behaves in the usual near-befuddled manner of older scientists, though not quite as bad as some.
Doctor Patricia Medford – She works with her father at the Department of Agriculture. They identify the strange print and come to New Mexico to verify their theories. As a woman in the 1950’s, she probably got asked all the time where her husband was at. However, she showed more drive and just as much backbone as the males with which she worked.
Major Kibbee – Once the threat of the ants has been identified, the military is called in. Well, two guys were called in, Kibbee here and General O’Brien. Kibbee plays a major part in everything that happens afterward, but always seems to take a back seat to the others. I’ve seen this movie a couple dozen times, but it wasn’t until this review that I even realized he was in the film and even had a name!
Brigadier General Robert O’Brien – Naturally, this guy’s first response to any problem is to bomb the shit out of something. He wants to carry out this plan of action against the ant nest, but Medford says they need to ascertain if any new queens have escaped before they destroy the ants.
Ed Blackburn – He was Ben Peterson’s partner. They investigated the disappearance of the Ellinson family. Well, ¾ of the Elinson family at least. Then they checked in on local grocery store owner Gramps Johnson only to find him dead. Blackburn stayed behind while Ben left in the patrol car. No one ever saw Ed again. Well, not if you don’t count a few scattered bones that were picked clean.
The Ellinson Girl – She was found walking through the desert in a total daze. Her family was on vacation and was attacked by the ants when they stopped their trailer for the night. Only she survived, the shock of the trauma sending her into a mindless, catatonic state very much like that of modern celebrities when asked an unscripted question during an interview.
Alan Crotty – This guy was flying his plane when a newly hatched queen ant and her consorts flew by his vehicle, forcing him to make an emergency landing on a street and hit a truck. When he explained why he did that, his story landed him the psych ward of the closest hospital, where Graham made sure he’d stay until the crisis was over. Any resemblance to Davy Crockett and/or Daniel Boone is purely coincidental.
Jensen – An old drunk who spent more time at the hospital alcoholic ward than anywhere else. Then again, if I was routinely seeing giant ants, I’d be hitting the sauce pretty hard, too. Despite his crazed ravings, Graham is able to get the location of the ants in LA out of him. They leave him behind as he merrily shouts, “make me a sergeant in charge of the booze!” Four yeas after this film he was devoured by an amorphous blob from outer space.
Army Sergeant – This guy was in the movie for just a few seconds, but I had to include him because he was played by Mr. Spock himself, the late Leonard Nimoy. LLAP
The Ants – Oversized due to mutation brought on by lingering radiation. How else did they get that big? It was always radiation that created the monster in those old 50’s flicks.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

The Heroic Entomologist MovieRight after the Warner brothers logo, the title card announces the name of the movie set against a desert backdrop. The text is in glorious red and blue and will be the only thing in color you will be seeing in this film. The credits unfold against some serious-sounding music. When all that is done, we see a plane flying low over the desert landscape. Below, a New Mexico State Trooper patrol car drives down an unpaved road in the middle of nowhere. The scenery is nothing but desert scrub and the occasional Joshua tree. The pilot – a guy named Johnny – radios to the car, which is carrying Sergeant Ben Peterson and trooper Ed Blackburn. Apparently, everyone is out here to follow up on a report given by some random guy. Seeing as how there doesn’t seem to be anything, Johnny thinks that guy may have drank his breakfast. I’m sure he means alcohol rather than some sort of fitness shake. Still, some of those fitness Nazis can be real pricks, too on occasion.

They’re all about to call it quits when Johnny spots something. It’s a young girl walking alone in the desert, about fifty yards off the road (with no stillsuit, no less). Johnny circles her position until Ben and Blackburn can get there.

The young girl, who looks to be about six or seven, is wearing a robe and carrying a doll with a piece missing from the head. What a coincidence, people have accused me of having pieces missing from my head. The patrol car comes to a stop and Ben calls to her, but she just keeps on walking. He then runs over to her and while he gets her to stop, she just stares off into the distance. He asks what her name is, what she is doing out in the desert and to whom does she belong, but there is no reply. Just that same, glassy eyed, thousand yard stare. It’s apparent that the child is traumatized in some way and has retreated into the safe place within her mind, just walking along like a zombie. The last time I saw anyone stare mindlessly into the distance like that after a traumatic shock was when my buddy accidentally saw the Lizzo sex tape. The poor bastard still really hasn’t shaken that one off.

Ben brings the girl back to the patrol car and then Johnny radios in to say that there is a civilian car and trailer just a few miles down the road. The girl just stares ahead, emotionless as if her parents overdosed her on Ritalin. Now, Johnny seems surprised that there is a car and trailer nearby, which implies he was not expecting to find it. This in turn poses the question: just what were they out here investigating? The guy who might have drank his breakfast reported something, but since that something obviously wasn’t a car and trailer, then what did that guy report? A young child walking alone in the desert? If that’s what he saw, then why didn’t HE pick up the girl or try to render aid in some fashion?

They head to the location of the car and trailer and while at first everything appears ok, they discover that the far side of the trailer is featuring a large hole in the side, as if the Kool-Aid man had burst through it. Further investigation reveals several things. The place is deserted (HA!). No money has been taken. There are no bodies, but there is a torn shirt with dried blood. A handgun seems to have been used then discarded. The hole in the trailer was caused by an external force. Some sugar seems to have been taken. There is a strange track in the sand nearby which neither Ben or Blackburn can identify. Plus, Ben finds a storage cabinet under a bunk that contains a small piece of cloth and bit of plastic, which match the young girl’s robe and broken doll, respectively. She obviously was hiding in that cabinet from someone or something. But what? They have quite the mystery on their hands. A call is put in for the medics to come pick up the girl as well as the crime scene investigators.

Later, as the investigation team snaps phots of the place and makes a plaster cast of the strange print, the girl is being loaded into the back of an ambulance on a stretcher, still having shown no signs of awareness. Ben chats with the ambulance driver and as they do, there is suddenly a high-pitched whirring sound that fills the air. They look around to see where it is coming from, but see nothing. With their backs to the girl, they fail to see her sit up, a look of horror on her face. As the sound fades away, she eases back into a prone position. The others just blame the sound on the wind.

A sandstorm seems to be kicking up, so Ben and Blackburn head out towards a local grocery store run by someone named Gramps Johnson, to see if he knows anything. By the time they get there, the winds have picked up considerably – enough for the spooky wind sound effect to be put to good use, and the sky has darkened quite a bit.

Inside the store they find a mess. The place looks like it was overrun by a herd of shoppers with acute dystonia all while jacked up on methamphetamines. Either that or a bunch of people were fighting over the last rolls of toilet paper. Like the trailer, there is a huge hole in one wall. Hell, it seems like half that wall is missing. Also missing is Gramps Johnson. Ben calls out, but the only thing to be heard is a radio blaring in the back room. I must say, between the darkened setting, the spooky winds and the swinging lights caused by the wind that play havoc with the shadows in the place; it is very effective at being eerie and creepy. I can only imagine being in the movie theater way back in 1954, watching this and being quite tense. I can only compare it to my own experience as a teen of watching Aliens in the theater back in 86. When the colonial marines disembark and begin exploring the empty colony, my heart was beating louder than a drum, I was so nervous. Ok, enough of my pointless prattle.

“We’ll just say he tripped and fell down the stairs.”Ben looks around and sees a half-eaten meal on the table in the back room, as well a simmering coffee pot. Whatever happened here couldn’t have taken place too long back. Then Ben spots a rifle on the floor behind the register that has been bent like a broken matchstick. Spying the two large doors in the floor that lead down into the cellar and seeing that one is wide open, they walk over and look down. There at the bottom of the steps is Gramps Johnson, dead with blood on his chest and head.

Ben pieces a few clues together. Gramps was dragged and thrown down into the cellar. The large hole in the wall was caused by an external force. There was no money taken from the till, so it wasn’t a robbery. However, one thing that was taken was some sugar. Eerily similar to what they found at the trailer. There are a few large barrels of sugar strewn about, some having been broken open and emptied. Ben wants to get back to the hospital and be there when the girl starts talking, so he takes the car, putting in a call to report the mess at Gramps Johnson’s place. Blackburn will wait there and catch a ride with the others after they arrive.

Blackburn walks into the back room and turns off the radio as we hear the car start up and drive away. The sound of the car has barely faded when the air is filled again with that high-pitched whirring sound. Blackburn quickly draws his pistol and turns out the light. He slowly walks back out into the store, stopping for a second when the sounds increase in volume. Whatever is making the sounds, it is somewhere outside. Blackburn walks to the large hole in the wall and steps out. He turns left and walks past a window and then out of sight. No sooner is he out sight that we hear him firing his gun. He lets out a scream that would have made a heavy metal singer proud.

Later at headquarters we see Blackburn’s hat on a table, along with Gramps Johnson’s broken rifle and the young girl’s broken-headed doll. Captain Edwards reveals that the trailer was owned by a guy named Ellinson from Chicago. He tells Ben to stop blaming himself for whatever happened to Ed Blackburn and to go get some rest. The local lab guy has no idea about what the strange print may be. Ben thinks it may be a homicidal maniac on the loose, but the captain isn’t so sure. Forensics have determined that Gramps Johnson got off four shots from his 30-30 (pretty good for a lever-action rifle given how little time he probably had to use it) and Ed Blackburn was a crack shot, hitting anything her could see. So unless any potential maniac was armored like a battleship, it had to have been something else.

A trooper walks in with the report on the fingerprints lifted from the trailer. Seems this Ellinson guy who owned it was an FBI agent on vacation with his wife and two children. Let that sink in for a minute. That means that poor girl must have been hiding in that cabinet while her parents and sibling were killed and hauled away by the giant ants. I know the film hasn’t revealed the culprit to be oversized ants just yet, but you and I both know that is what attacked them. Remember that torn and bloody shirt that Ben found at the trailer? A ripped shirt and no body implies that whoever was wearing it was removed from within it…most likely by being dismembered. Hopefully they were dead by that time. Can you imagine that girl hearing the screams of her family as they are torn apart by those giant mandibles? What if her sibling was even younger than her? You know, these old films couldn’t show very much on screen, but with some scene dressing and a few choice words of dialog, they could really convey some truly horrifying ideas.

Since the dead guy worked for the FBI, said agency sends agent Robert Graham from the local FBI office to help with the investigation. When we see him, Ben has already taken him to the two crime scenes. Now they’re back at headquarters. Graham looks at the plaster cast of the strange print which no one has yet to identify. He wants to send it to the Washington bureau in hopes that they will figure what it is. About now a doctor from the county coroner’s office arrives with the autopsy report on Gramps Johnson. It seems Gramps could have died from any one of five different causes. His neck was broken, his back was broken, his skull was fractured, his chest was crushed and…there was enough formic acid in his body to kill twenty men. Cue music.

The next thing we know, we’re looking at a telegraph that was sent to Graham from a colleague in Washington. It says that Doctors (note the use of the plural) Medford will be arriving from the Department of Agriculture to help with the investigation. Next we see Ben and Graham at the airstrip waiting for the plane to arrive. Since the aircraft is a military vehicle and not a civilian transport, the passengers and crew have to disembark down a ladder. The first to appear is an older man, a Dr. Harold Medford. Next out is his daughter, Patricia who goes by Pat. She is young, shapely and attractive, much to Graham’s delight. Rather than go to their hotel, Medford wants to get to work right away.

At the state trooper office, Graham shows them on a map where the two crimes scenes are located. Ben and Graham ask them questions about the print, which was sent to them by the FBI, as well as inquiring why representatives from the department of agriculture were sent. The two doctors are not very forthcoming with answers. Especially after they draw a correlation between the area where the attacks have occurred and the first atomic bomb test in 1945. Medford explains that they cannot reveal anything until they are one hundred percent certain. Then he wants visit the hospital to see the young girl after making a quick stop by the local drug store.

After a couple of days since her ordeal, the Ellinson girl is still the same: motionless and staring off into space with damn near the same slack-jawed expression that once graced my countenance whenever called upon in school to work out an Algebra problem on the blackboard. Did I ever mention that I wasn’t very good in math as a student? I had to take Algebra 1 for three years straight before I started scoring anything higher than a C. Calling upon moi to tackle an algebra problem on the blackboard was akin to asking the school’s lone deaf kid to recite Mark Antony’s Friends, Romans, Countryman speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in received pronunciation. In other words, pointless...and potentially comedic gold.

“Here kid, you want a shot of vodka?”“Stranger danger! Stranger danger! Stranger danger!”So anyway, after a bunch of medical jargon is spat out by the resident doctor, Medford asks for a glass. Into this he pours a small quantity of formic acid, which is what he most likely procured at the drug store. And here I thought he was wanting to pick up some smokes, a bottle of Jack and a pack of Trojans for his visit to New Mexico…or is it only me that does that? He passes the glass back and forth under the girl’s nose and after a few seconds she starts to react to the smell. Her eyelids flutter and as she comes out of her catatonic state, she screams and yells “THEM!” She then hops up from her chair and tries to hide near a dresser. She screams and yells some more and then starts sobbing, which is the same reaction I have when my internet goes out. Medford wants to visit the desert now. Graham tells him that it is getting very late. “Later than you think,” comes the ominous reply.

We now return to the desert. The patrol car pulls up to where the Ellinson trailer was found. Ben, Graham, Pat and Medford all get out. The wind is blowing pretty strong and everyone is wearing goggles, except for Medford, who has them around his neck. He comments on the breeze and Ben has to point out the purpose of the goggles. Some people have a great deal of book smarts, but when it comes to practical knowledge or “street smarts” they can be lacking.

Ben shows them where the print was found. Medford asks if there has been any reports of strange mounds or cone-shaped structures, but Ben has heard no reports of such things. Pat notes that the desert environment makes slim pickings for food and that “they” would turn carnivorous for lack of a habitual diet. Who or what are they?! That is what Graham wants to know and he’s getting a little annoyed at the lack of answers from Pat’s father. Medford finds another print and measuring it, figures the entire organism would be two and a half meters in length. Still not revealing what it may be, he explains to Graham and Ben that he wants to be sure, because if he is right, he does not want to risk a nation-wide panic. We can’t have that now, can we? It would cause everyone to rush out and buy up every scrap of toilet paper that they could get their hands on, hoarding it all at home. Nah, that’s too farfetched. That could never happen.

Meanwhile, Pat has wandered off a ways to look for more prints. She finds one at the base of a small outcropping of rock. As she examines it, that high-pitched whirring noise fills the air. She looks around but sees nothing. The others can hear it, too and they all gaze about with that look on their faces as if trying to determine which one of them has farted. Pat continues to look around when over the top of the rock outcropping comes a giant ant! Tell me you didn’t see that coming. She screams and backpedals away faster than a politician spotted at a KKK rally.

Graham comes running to Pat’s defense. He and Ben are unloading their pistols at the ant. Medford exhorts Ben to shoot at the creature’s antennae. Ben does this and takes out one of the two. Out of ammo, he runs back to the patrol car. I half expected to see him start it up and then go tearing out of there, kicking up a mountain of sand as he sped away. Second choice would have seen him start the car, floor it and then steer right at the ant. Medford shouts to Graham to shoot the other antenna, which he does. Then Ben shows back up, having retrieved a machine gun from the car. He lays into the ant like it was Saint Valentine's Day and the ant was Bugs Moran himself. The critter drops dead after a hail of bullets that would even put NRA members to shame. Maybe if the bullets hadn’t done the trick, Ben could have attempted the car ramming thing.

They all gather around the dead body in amazement. Graham wants to know what it is. Medford says the species appears to be Camponotus Vicinus, which to my ears sounds more like the name given to an ancient Roman summer camp. Medford says that it’s an ant. Ben and Graham are shocked to be sure, but not quite as shocked when they are told that there must be a nest nearby, as the dead specimen before them is merely a scout. These oversized ants, mutated by lingering radiation from the atomic bomb tests, are responsible for the recent attacks. As they talk, the ants’ whirring sound is heard again. Medford, now grim and serious, says that they may be witnesses to a biblical prophecy come true. You mean the one about bears grazing and lions eating hay? (Isaiah: 11:6-9) No, he means the one that says, “And there shall be destruction and darkness come upon creation. And the beasts shall reign over the earth.” Oh! The Trump administration! Fade out.

Fade in. A helicopter flies over the desert, carrying Medford, Ben and Brigadier General Robert O’Brien. The General is sitting in front of the other two and is wearing a headset. Is he actually flying? There is no one sitting next to him. Is there a third row of seats in front of him where the pilot is located? From the exterior, the helicopter certainly didn’t look like it had that many rows of seats. Ben and Medford are in the very rear, yet still have windows on either side, so it’s not like they’re sitting in the cargo area. I just find it funny that it appears that the General is the one piloting the aircraft. Maybe he had to get a few flight hours in or lose his flight pay.

They’re out flying about trying to locate the ants’ nest. The General wants to know how many ants could be in the nest. Medford explains that it could be hundreds or thousands. The General thinks that such numbers would require a significant military response, something near impossible to keep secret. Medford wants to talk to his daughter, who is in a second chopper with Graham and a Major Kibbee. I suppose Kibbee is flying that one. Ben gets exasperated when Medford doesn’t follow, or seem to care about, the etiquette and procedures involved in contacting the other aircraft. The other chopper reports that they have not located anything, either.

Like no one can see all those cars nearby?Sticking with Graham and Pat, they discuss her father and how he isn’t a young man, but being a scientist, he will keep buggering on regardless. Long about now their chopper locates the ants’ nest. It looks like a big mound in the middle of the desert – never mind about the two dirt roads that crisscross a short ways away, let alone the number of cars parked not far off (including a big rig truck) – complete with big gaping hole on top that leads into the bowels of the earth. As they circle, an ant appears in the hole, an entire human ribcage and backbone in its mandibles. It drops the bones, which roll down the side of the mound and come to rest amongst other debris. There are lots of bones, several human skulls and the gun belt from a state troopers’ uniform. “You just found your missing persons,” Pat announces. If the producers really wanted to get creepy, they would have made one of those human skulls noticeably smaller than the others, to denote the Ellinson girl’s missing sibling.

This has got to me to wondering…why did all the dead people end up as ant food except for Gramps Johnson? His body was thrown into the cellar. Was he just too old and mealy to seem appealing to the ants? In all likelihood it was a single scout ant that attacked his store and killed him. The ant might have been more interested in those barrels of sugar than Gramps. Perhaps it tossed Gramps into the cellar for safe keeping, intending on retrieving his body when it returned with additional ants (and then finding an additional snack in the form of trooper Ed Blackburn when it did so). Of course, this scenario calls into question what occurred at the Ellinson trailer. We know three people went missing from there. Did a single ant make three trips or did it attack once, take someone away and then return with friends for the others? Either way, all of that young girl’s family had to be dead after the initial attack. If a parent was left alive, they no doubt would have used the car to get help. If it was her sibling, they probably would have run off together for the same reason. Of course the most horrifying scenario is that one parent was killed and taken away while the other was wounded so bad, they couldn’t move. Then that poor girl had to hide and listen as the ants returned and took away the rest of her family. I don't know about her, but I'm thinking that I might need therapy after all that.

We move now to the FBI field office in Alamogordo. General O’Brien is confused. He’s been instructed to take orders from Medford, who doesn’t want the news of the ants to travel any further than the people who already know it. Medford thinks time is of the essence, but the General doesn’t know why that can’t just bomb the shit out of the nest and call it a day if they need to hurry. Medford explains that these ants don’t like the heat of the day and only forage at night, so a night bombing wouldn’t kill them all. Pat puts up an artist’s rendering of what ant nest looks like and says some have been known to tunnel down as deep as thirty feet. This means the big nest could possibly descend for hundreds. The General says they could seal up the opening to the nest, but Medford explains that the ants would only tunnel out somewhere else. No, he wants to keep them confined in the nest. The only viable way to do so is with enough heat to drive them deeper into the nest. Kibbee suggests using phosphorus, laid down over the mound from a distance with bazookas. Afterwards, cyanide gas would be dropped into the next to kill all the ants. To make sure they were all dead, someone would then have to venture into the tunnels. Sounds like a job for the Orkin man!

Since no one else is supposed to know about all this, it’s up to this small group of clowns to enact all these plans and see them through, which to me is only marginally better than having the Marx Brothers plan your wedding. We now see the General and Kibbee unloading large ammo crates from a jeep out in the desert and taking up two positons not far from one another. Ben is with O’Brien while Graham accompanies Kibbee. Medford and Pat watch from a few yards away. With Ben and Kibbee manning bazookas, they take turns firing at the mound in the distance. Things heat up real fast around the entrance to the nest. Later, when the temperature has died down some, Ben and Graham approach the entrance, dressed in protective gear. At the lip they gaze down and see an ant trying to escape. They quickly shoot it and then start dropping cyanide canisters into the nest.

Enough time passes for the heat to diminish to the point where everyone can now loiter around the nest entrance without protective suits. Ben and Graham are preparing to repel down into the nest to check things out. Pat, all suited up in fatigues as well, announces that she is going, too. Naturally, they balk at this, but she convinces them that someone with scientific knowledge has to go in order to look for specific things, and her father is too old to do so.

The three descend into the nest wearing gas masks, as there is still a lot of cyanide gas fogging up the place. They see some dead ants, which gives them a momentary jolt. They venture onward and further downward. I must say, the producers could have made these scenes just a wee bit more creepy. There’s too much light in these subterranean caverns. In reality it would be pitch black. I know that doesn’t translate well to screen, but I feel things could have been darker. The foggy tendrils of cyanide gas certainly help to make things eerie. I suppose back in 54’, the tension in the audience was quite high, with no one knowing if and when a giant ant would come hurtling out of the dark at any minute. I suppose I can once again equate it to my experience with Aliens in 1986. At one point the cavern wall collapses, revealing a chamber beyond with a few surviving ants. Good thing Ben is armed with a flame-thrower. The ants get roasted faster than Trump on an episode of The Young Turks. Finally, they reach the queen’s chamber. There are lots of eggs for new queens, but all but two are unhatched. Pat snaps some pictures and tells Ben to burn it all.

Later, the group looks over the photos that Pat took. She says that there were no larvae or pupae in the egg chamber, as one would see in normal ants. No, these new radiation grown ants seem to hatch directly from the eggs and then fly off. Since no winged ants were found in the nest, that means that these two new queens and their consorts have already fled the nest in order to establish new colonies elsewhere. Each queen can lay thousands of eggs, from which new queens will arise to form subsequent nests. And so on and so on. Can I get an OH SHIT? Medford confirms that feeling when he says that they have just had a view of what may be the end of humanity. Time to inform Washington!

The action now moves to the capitol where the group has arrived to brief some big shots, including senators and the military’s top brass. It seems Ben has been ushered into the upper echelons of power given his experience with the ants as well as the fact that Medford and O’Brien want to keep things as hush-hush as they can. Been agrees with the idea, saying that there isn’t a police force out there that could handle the panic that would come from knowing these monsters were on the loose. Are you kidding me? It seems there isn’t a police force out there that can’t handle a traffic stop without someone dying from an unwanted overdose of lead.

“Stag movies! All right!”Medford begins his presentation, which includes a movie. The intent is to show the nature of ants in general and how in the new giant ants, these qualities are not exactly hospitable to human life. He sums it all up by saying that if these new queen ants are not found and destroyed before they start laying eggs and new queens emerge, man will be extinct within a year. In other words, Shit. Just. Got. Serious.

We now see some sort of government or military installation where news reports from all over the world come in before being sent on to the appropriate receiver. A large bulletin board on the wall reminds everyone to report any news relating to several criteria, including:

Kidnappings – Missing Persons
Unsolved Murders
Alleged Suicides
Migrations of Wild Life
Thefts of Sugar – Syrups – Sweets
Strange Phenomena as Flying Saucers, Strange odors, High-Pitched Sounds
Unnatural Things Alive or Dead

I don’t know about you, but that last one sounds like it could cover half of Hollywood. There are enough people walking around with all manner of cosmetic alterations, implants and face lifts to make them look quite unnatural and I’m sure most celebrities are dead on the inside as it is. Anyway, Mr. Spock now arrives to save the day. Well, not really, but we do see a young Leonard Nimoy in an early role as a man in uniform who receives a report about a ranch foreman in Texas who crashed his plane due to flying saucers shaped like ants. The foreman in question is now a guest of the local psychopathic ward. The report makes its way to our heroes. Kibbee, Graham and Pat leave to catch a plane to Texas to follow up on it. Ben sticks a pin on a large map adorning the wall to mark where the report is from: Brownsville, Texas.

In Texas, Kibbee, Graham and Pat are meeting with the aforementioned foreman, a Mr. Alan Crotty. The man isn’t too thrilled about being kept in a mental institution and swears up and down that he really saw what he reported. He relates how he was flying in from Corpus Christi when three UFO’s – one large and two smaller one – nearly collided with his plane, forcing him to make an emergency landing on a street. As he tells his story, the other three are serious and quiet. Up until now, no one has believed Mr. Crotty, which is why he’s in the looney bin. Pat asks what direction they were flying and he says that it was due west. Relieved that someone finally believes him, he asks if they can help get him out. Graham assures him that they will talk to the doctor. However, when Graham does talk to the doctor, he informs him that Mr. Crotty is to remain at the facility and is to have no visitors. The doctor was going to release him, thinking Crotty just made up his story as a publicity stunt. It seems publicity is the last thing the government wants and Graham makes it clear that he will hold the doctor responsible if Crotty’s story gets out. Graham adds that he will notify the doctor when Crotty is well and can be released.

Back in Washington, Pat, Graham and Medford discuss the ants’ flying trajectories and map out a large area in which the creatures could have landed. The phone rings now and Medford answers before rushing out of the room, the others trailing. They head to the teletype room where a report is coming in about a nest of ants that have hatched aboard a ship at sea, the S.S. Viking, bound for Singapore. We turn our attention quickly to said ship and sea a crewman desperately sending out an SOS. Behind him it’s sheer chaos, giant ants are running loose, crew members are running around firing guns and being killed. Then a giant ant comes crashing into the room and grabs the poor shmuck sending the SOS. He lets out a Wilhem scream as the ant grabs him.

Pat marks the map with a pin to denote the location of the ship. A report comes in from a second ship that rescued two survivors from the Viking. Boarding the Viking to look for other survivors was impossible as the ship was infested with giant ants. The navy then bombarded the Viking with gunfire and sank it, destroying the ant colony. Tough break for any Viking crewman who might have been hiding somewhere in the bowels of the ship, hoping for a rescue! The ants apparently got on board when the ship was anchored in Acapulco for three nights with the door to one of the ships’ holds open the entire time. The crew was enjoying shore leave (and in Acapulco, you can only imagine the wild time they had) and only a skeleton crew remained on board, so it could have been easy for the queen to climb into the hold unseen. Later the eggs hatched after the ship was at sea. The other ship, the Milwaukee, will be kept at sea until the crisis is resolved, to better restrict the flow of information. It should be noted that we can see the Capitol building through the window behind them. My problem is this: to see the Capitol building from that angle, they either have to be in the Library of Congress building or in a building that does not exist any longer. According to my map, there just isn't any place for such a building to be located. At least now. Back then? Who knows.

One big shot now asks Pat what all the pins in the map mean. She explains that four of them indicate locations where dead male ants were found. The most recent was in southern California with the corpse being badly decomposed, an indication that it had been there for weeks. Another pin on the map located in Los Angeles, indicates a lead. Graham, Ben and Kibbee are there now, following up on the report of a large sugar theft – forty tons to be exact. Oh, crap. What are all the LA cops gonna put in their coffee now? Splenda? YUCK.

POW. Just like that we zip all the way over to Los Angeles and a train yard. Graham and Ben are looking over a freight car that was broken into on Friday night – two nights ago. The watchman claims to have not seen or heard a thing. Of course the poor watchman is in jail because the authorities know that you need trucks to carry away forty tons of sugar, so they figure the watchman is either lying or he’s deaf. And he ain’t deaf.

Graham and Ben go to see the watchman, who claims to have worked for the train company for over thirty years. He is a little irate at being accused of being in on a sugar theft. As he puts it, no one has ever heard of a fence for hot sugar. As Graham is talking to him, Ben comes in from another room where a sobbing woman has just identified the body of her husband. Ben takes Graham to go see the body, which apparently is torn up really bad. As the coroner puts it, “I don’t think this happened in a machine.” It seems the body is missing an arm. The coroner also mentions a torn up face and deep lacerations across the chest.

Ben fills Graham in on the details. The police found the guy that morning at 6:30 in his car, having jumped a curb and running into a sign. There was no sign of the guy’s missing arm. His wife said that he left the house at 5:45 with their two sons. As of now, there are no signs of the kids.

“Here, have this. It really perked up a kid earlier in the film.”Later, they interview the wife, Mrs. Lodge. She says that her husband works an extra job on Sundays so he often takes the kids out early just to have some time to spend with them. As she explains where her late husband often took the kids, she breaks down in tears. Graham goes to a watercooler, fills a paper cup and gives it to her,. Water? WATER? If that was me upset over the loss of a loved one, that cup had better damn well have vodka in it! And I don’t mean that cheap 80 proof shit either. I mean that potent Russian stuff that slides down just as easy as water.

Ben then calls Graham into another room to meet the two police officers who found Mr. Lodge. They show him on a map where they found him and confirm he was dead when they got there. The places Mrs. Lodge said he often went are too far away. He could not have driven far missing an arm and all cut up. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere in that part of town where a father would have taken his kids. Graham then asks the two cops if they made any arrests that morning. They say yes, there were three drunks and a traffic citation. Graham wants to talk to them all in case someone knows anything useful.

Three of them are brought in for further questioning. Two are drunks that act like they are still quite sauced and the third is the traffic citation, a young woman who ran a red light at sixty miles per hour. It seems she was in a hurry to get home, having spent the night with a sick friend. She does not want to mention any names as her friend - a man - is married. I suppose her idea of making him feel well involved more than just bringing him soup. I wonder what page of the Kama Sutra they were on when she realized it was time to hightail it home.

The third drunk is a guy named Jensen, who is in the alcoholic ward at the hospital, having almost become a permanent resident there. They head over to talk to him. As he’s lying in bed, he looks out the window and remarks how “they’re gone now.” He mutters something about airplanes and ants and after much hullabaloo, they get it out of him that he’s been seeing ants in the river. Graham looks out the window and sees the river, which in this part of town flows through a large man-made aqueduct. On the sides are large outlets from the sewer system that would be most inviting to a queen ant. It seems old Jensen has been seeing these ants for about five months now.

An officer now drives Graham, Ben and Kibbee down into the aqueduct to look things over. I half expected to see Danny Zuko come barreling down the length of the spillway in the Grease Lightning car or maybe even John Connor on his motorbike with the T-1000 in hot pursuit, driving a stolen big rig. Maybe even…ok, forget it. They poke around some and then Graham spots something. It’s a model plane, the type that if your throw really well, will actually fly for a bit. Well, as long as you don't throw it at the ground. Graham has the police officer make a call to see if Mrs. Lodge knows if her kids owned a plane like this. Ben finds tire marks that could easily belong to the late Mr. Lodge’s car. Then Kibbee spots something close to one of the sewer openings. In the mud is a print which looks just like the ones found in New Mexico. It’s “them” alright.

Ben and Graham theorize that Lodge was with his kids when the ants attacked. Lodge fought to protect his boys and was injured, finally having to make a break for it in his car, missing an arm. The kids must have run off, but Ben figures they would have been picked up by the police by now unless…unless they ran into the sewers. The police officer returns to report that Mrs. Lodge has confirmed that her boys owned a model plane like the one found and that her husband did bring them to this location in the past to fly it. So there are two missing kids and the presence of the ants is confirmed in the sewers running under LA…all 700+ miles of them.

At a press briefing which is also broadcast over both TV and radio, General O’Brien states that Los Angeles is now under martial law, with a curfew of six PM. Well, good luck with that! If the past three months of the real world (mid-March to mid-June 2020) has taught us anything, it’s that despite whatever emergency is transpiring, be it the zombie apocalypse, aliens invading, great Cthulhu rising from the ocean depths, giant ants, murder hornets, rioting or even say something as utterly unlikely as a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, there are some people who will act like nothing is wrong and keep going out despite it being in everyone’s best interests that they not do so. Anyway, O’Brien then explains about the giant ants with the belief that the surviving colony is located somewhere in the storm drains beneath Los Angeles. As he speaks we see people listening on radios and or watching on TVs. Soon enough the Army and Marines come rolling into town in a seemingly endless line of jeeps, trucks and equipment. This must mean war! Either that or there is going to be a lot on sale tomorrow at the army surplus store.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

At a staging point located where Mr. Lodge had his fatal encounter with the ants, the army is preparing for action. Mrs. Lodge arrives, wanting to be near when the fate of her boys is discovered. One guy in a suit and tie (so not in the military) wants to burn the ants out with gasoline, but Graham says they can’t do that until the Lodge boys are found. Medford adds that they can’t burn them until they have ascertained if any new queen ants have hatched and the cycle starts all over again. Good point, because that would make for a long movie.

Finally the order is given and teams all over the city begin to enter the sewers. Pat tells Bob to watch himself. Funny, she didn’t say that to Ben. I guess we all know who she is going to have hot monkey sex with when this is all over and done. Lots of shots of jeeps loaded with armed men and driving into the storm drains now ensue. Ben, Graham, Pat and Kibbee have each gone in different directions. After a while no one has anything to report. Then Ben thinks he hears something. He orders all the vehicles to halt while he stops and listens. He and his driver are in just over a mile and he can hear what seems to be tapping or banging.

Close by is a feeder pipe that opens about six feet above the ground and leads into an area that is still under construction. Ben dons his flame thrower and climbs in to investigate. The driver puts in a call to have any potential work lights turned on. Ben crawls down the pipe but cannot see anything at the end. He calls out to the two kids, Mike and Jerry. They answer back that yes they are nearby. Word is passed back to Mrs. Lodge that her kids are still drawing air, and she buries her face in her hands. Uh…was that done out of relief or regretful acceptance? I suppose it was the former.

“Please, Mr. director…if we say our lines right this time, may we have something to eat and go home?”The whirring sound of the ants now fills the air and as Ben gets to the end of the pipe, he sees that it opens up into that large area still being constructed. Ants have overrun the place. The two kids are backed into one corner. The ants cannot reach them because of a number of support beams in the way, but they are gradually knocking those down. The kids don’t have long. The younger of the two has obviously been crying, no doubt thinking that he will be blamed for everything that went wrong that day. I’m sure both kids have crapped their pants more than once. Maybe that’s why the ants want at them, to get rid of the shit aroma wafting through the air.

Speaking of smells, Ben informs the others that he can smell a strong brood odor, just like in the New Mexico colony, so he must be near the nest. He cannot use his flame thrower from his current position since the kids are in the line of fire. He calls for the troops to be sent in. When the General hears all this, he orders all units to converge on that location. Soldiers begin pouring into the area.

Seeing that Mike and Jerry are not going to last long before the ants reach them, Ben climbs down from the pipe and uses his flame thrower to roast a couple of ants. With the way now clear, he leads the two kids over to the pipe and removes his flame thrower, oblivious to a large shadow down another pipe that denotes an ant moving his way. As he is lifting the kids up into the escape pipe, the ant draws near. Ben gets both kids into the pipe and abandoning his flame thrower, jumps up to pull himself into the pipe. Sadly, he does not make it. The ant grabs him from behind and gives him the squish treatment something harsh.

Graham arrives with more soldiers and fires at the ant, killing it. Ben falls to the ground, clutching his guts, which have no doubt just been pancaked by the pressure applied to them by the ant’s mandibles. More ants attack from down a tunnel and while the soldiers shoot them, Graham rushes to check on Ben. He asks Ben about the kids and the former New Mexico State Trooper, with his last breath, reveals that the kids are safe and in the pipe above their heads. Then he croaks. It’s a good thing he wasn’t Pat’s choice for wild sex later, or she’d be sorely disappointed.

Turning back to the tunnel, Graham joins the dozens of soldiers who have arrived and are now firing at the ants. The ants are putting up a good fight, no doubt trying to guard the entrance to the queen’s chamber. Medford arrives and tells them to stop firing. They cannot risk having the tunnel collapse until they determine if new queens have hatched. Gas isn’t an option, as it might poison half the city, so they have to go in on foot.

The soldiers advance and at the end of the tunnel there is a pit from which another ant pokes its head and then retreats. As the men draw near, a partial collapse drops a huge beam on one poor bastard who lets out a Wilhelm scream and falls to the ground. As others are helping him, Graham moves on alone. Another collapse cuts him off from the group. Ahead of him are the ants, behind him is nothing bit rubble. Uh oh. He might be in a wee bit of trouble.

Everyone, including General O’Brien, now work at digging a way through the rubble. On the other side, an ant rises from the pit and Graham fires at it but quickly empties his magazine. As he tries to swap it out, he is forced to run from an ant. A second one is coming up behind him. He manages to get his weapon reloaded and starts firing just in the nick of time. Seconds later, soldiers break through the rubble and join the fight. The ants are quickly brought down.

“Okay, everyone…grab some marshmallows.”What, they didn’t have enough money for those words to be in color, too?Everyone peers down into the pit and we see three winged ants. I don’t know if that’s three queens or one queen and her two consorts. Medford and Pat arrive, the latter placing a concerned hand on Graham’s shoulder. Yep, the countdown to monkey sex has begun. Anyway, Medford looks down at the ants and says that they are three new queens (that answers my question) and that they are in time. When these are destroyed the job will be done. Without waiting any longer, the General gives the order to burn them. Flames throwers are activated and the ants go up like a Wendy's restaurant during a riot.

Graham wants to know that if these ants were a result of the first atomic bomb test of 1945, what about all the others that have been detonated since then? Pat says she doesn’t know. Medford now takes a moment to wax philosophical and deliver not only the movie’s final lines, but the mandatory warning about science gone awry. “When man first entered into the atomic age, he opened a door into a new world. What we’ll eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.” Cue swelling music and one last shot of the burning ants. Fade out.

I hope someone remembers to call and let Mr. Crotty out of the psych ward!

The End.

 

 

 

Review


This is the quintessential giant monster movie from the 50’s. All of the tropes and clichés that we now associate with the genre seemingly began here. Radiation to blame? Check. An elderly scientist who knows a lot about the threat? Yup. A career woman who is just as capable as any man? Check. Missing people that kick off the mystery? Check. A showdown with the U.S. armed forces? Check. About the only thing we don’t get is a full on monster rampage in a big American city. The film is based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates, which was then developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes. Originally planned to be in color and 3-D, but plans were scrapped when the 3-D camera rig malfunctioned. The movie earned two million dollars at the box office in 1954.

Storyline
This film adheres pretty tightly to the standard plot of 50’s monster movies. We begin with a mystery. What happened to the Ellinson family? Who killed Gramps Johnson and Trooper Blackburn? Why are these events occurring? Of course we as the audience already know the answers, having chosen to watch the film, but it’s of great interest to watch the characters slowly piece the various clues together until the answer is literally staring them in the face. The threat is addressed and seemingly stopped. However, the menace survives and our heroes have to go on the offensive once again to eliminate the monstrous enemy.

The film almost plays like two different movies. First we have all the action in the first half, set in the desert of New Mexico. This is the mystery portion of the movie. Beginning with Ben Peterson and continuing with Robert Graham, we follow the investigation to find meaning to the odd occurrences in the desert. Once the Medfords arrive and the characters realize just what the threat is, we then follow the initial efforts to combat it. This allows for some tense and creepy moments when the heroes descend into the nest of the giant ants. The film makes a shift for the second half of the movie and becomes more of a pursuit story, with the protagonists chasing down leads and trying to discover to where the surviving queens have disappeared. It all comes together in the finale, when the army assaults the nest located beneath Los Angeles. The only thing really missing is a decent monster rampage sequence, maybe through the streets of LA. That would have been nice to see but I suppose the budget just wasn’t there for that.

Characters
This is one of the film’s strongest points. The characters really shine throughout and you can easily see them as real people. We start with Ben Peterson. He comes across as devoted to his job and the sort to shoulder responsibility beyond what he should. Never one to shirk his duty, he thrusts himself into the thick of things when he could very easily call it quits. Think about it. Medford really wanted secrecy at first and did not want the knowledge of the ants to pass beyond a small group, all in order to keep the general population from panicking. Ben was fully committed to fighting the ants at this point and even after the nest was destroyed, he stuck with it. No one would have blamed him for wanting out, letting the higher ups deal with the situation, but his commitment to his late partner Ed Blackburn – who was a victim of the ants – fueled his desire to see the whole affair through to the end.

Robert Graham is just as determined to see the crisis to its end, but he doesn’t have quite the edge to him as Ben. Then again, for Ben it was personal, having lost his friend and partner to the ants. For Graham it’s his job and one could argue that as a federal agent, he wants to protect the population from the giant ant menace, so his dedication to his job and the people of his nation is what drives him forward. Graham also has a more humorous personality, making small jokes on more than one occasion. Whether he does this to help lighten the mood or as a way to bolster his own doubts is up for interpretation. Some people just deal with problems with a dose of humor, myself included.

We come now to the Doctors Medford. The elder Medford is your typical elderly scientist one finds in these films. He’s chock full of knowledge, realizes things before anyone else and has a plan in mind for everything. He’s also slightly eccentric, has problems communicating with others and seems to lack a bit of street smarts. He doesn’t come off as a cranky old coot, like many such characters do, but more like a jovial grandpa who is intrigued by everything. You can see Graham and Ben becoming more and more exasperated with him until the threat is known. At that point, they are more than happy to differ to his knowledge. Then we come to his daughter Patricia. Pat is the proverbial black sheep of the film, a woman amongst a bunch of men who happens to be smarter than the lot of them and has just as much in the way of courage. She doesn’t come off as angry or adversarial, and gets along fine with everyone, especially Graham. There seems to be the tiniest bit of a spark between the two, but it’s very subtle and at the end of the film you get the impression that their relationship could easily go one of two ways: full on romance or platonic friendship.

Music and FX
As usual for movies from this time period, I really don’t consider the music to be a big standout, but that is just my own personal feeling. I will say, that as a Warner Brothers production with a budget larger than your usual monster flick, Them does enjoy better music than a large majority of the decade’s efforts. The composer was Bronislau Kaper who immigrated from Poland in the mid 1930’s. His score is in no way bad and plenty of the musical cues work very well with the nature of the movie. I suppose it was quite progressive for the era. It’s just not my cup of tea. Your mileage may vary.

As for the FX, looking at the film’s giant ants with a modern eye, jaded from decades of CGI, it is easy to say that the creatures look silly. However, for the time in which they were constructed, they looked pretty damn real. Unlike other monster movies that only revealed their monster in the last few minutes or concealed it for much of the film, the producers are obviously proud of the full size mock ups of oversized ants and rolled them out every chance they got. More than one was made for the film and that helps a great deal, as we get scenes with multiple ants, easily conveying the idea of a vast horde of insects just out of sight. The ants looks quite believable as well when they are shown walking about, with antennae that move, mandibles that open and close and legs that move realistically, never giving the impression of a stiff and cheap fabrication held aloft by wires or two-by-fours. Definitely one of the best looking monsters from that decade. The film was even nominated for an Oscar for its special effects.

Summation
Them is one of the best monster/science fiction films of the 50’s. There is mystery, suspense, drama and few moments of levity. It’s populated with great characters that each has their own personalities and motivations. Most importantly, the film has fantastic monsters, convincingly brought to life and showcased proudly throughout its running time. What more can a monster lover want?

 

Expect To See:
Annoying Kids – Two kids who need rescuing show up at the very end of the film and they don’t get much screen time, but since ALL kids are automatically annoying, this icon is warranted.
Desert Hijinks – The first half of the movie involves running around the desert from location to location. Luckily no one encountered any stranded aliens or a giant tarantula or even towers of giant black meteor rock. Just giant ants.
Giant Bugs – Plenty of oversized ants on display. You certainly don’t want this gang crashing your Sunday afternoon picnic at the park otherwise you’ll need a tank truck full of Raid.
Gunplay – There are plenty of shots taken at the ants during the first half of the movie. However, once the army is called into play, the number of shots fired is only surpassed by those of your average (former) Oakland Raiders celebratory parade.
Nature Run Amok – This one applies because the ants began life as normal, but nature went awry when radiation got involved and they gained their large size, becoming a colossal menace. Kind of like Donald Trump.
Ocean Hijinks – There is a short segment where an ant colony in a ship’s hold begins to overrun the vessel while at sea. Definitely not The Love Boat.
Underground Hijinks – Once the New Mexico nest has been fumigated with cyanide, Ben, Graham and Pat venture into the depths to determine if any queens survived. No not that type of queen! The place is well lit for being so deep underground.
Violence – Naturally, there is violence in a movie where giant ants dismember, kill and eat people, though none of it is seen on screen. We see one person squished, though plenty of ants get mowed down in a hail of gunfire or get roasted like last night’s ham.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Alcoholic drinks consumed: 0
Cigarettes smoked: 27
Deaths: Undetermined (at least a couple dozen)
Gunshots: 100+ (stopped counting)
Bazooka shells fired: 7
Explosions: 9
Wilhelm screams: 3
Words spoken by Ellinson girl: 5 (all the same word)
Times Jensen says “Booze”: 6
Times we hear ants before we actually see them: 3
Times film crew's shadow or reflection can be seen: 4
Drunks in film: 6
Drunks in audience: 1
Roasted ants: 8
Most ants seen at once: 3
Percentage of movie featuring ant instructional film: 2.63%

01 Min – Da plane, da plane!
02 Min – She’s in open desert and is casting two different shadows. Where is that other light source?
05 Min – Film crew reflected in windshield.
07 Min – Film crew reflected in shiny car paint.
14 Min – Hey, blue lives matter!
17 Min – Film crew shadow spotted in upper right corner
20 Min – Hello, legs.
36 Min – Cigarette magically appears in the General’s hand.
39 min – Hahahaha! So much fire and I can’t find a light for his cigarette.
45 Min – I bet somewhere in France that is considered a delicacy.
49 Min – Time for an instructional film.
54 Min – Mr. Spock!
55 Min – Oh, he said that he got clucked over.
59 Min – Random act of violence against a door frame.
71 Min – Film crew reflected in shiny car paint.
79 Min – Time to storm the storm drains.
92 Min – The end.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time you see someone smoking a cigarette, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

“My guess is that someone had to
get to the shitter really, really bad.”


“It’s the deceased’s suicide
note…written as a rebus puzzle.”


“I haven’t seen a kid this
traumatized since Chase got
neutered on Paw Patrol.”


 
“Defund the police!”

“Okay, grandpa. Tell us where
you hid the little blue pills or you
might find yourself tripping again."


“Giant ants? How absurd. Like one
couldn’t see something like
that coming for miles.”


 
“Raar! I’m a monsta!”

 
Another picnic ruined by ants again.

“Why am I flying this thing? I’m a
freakin’ general. I should be in
back with them!”

“I just got back from
all-you-can-eat ribs night
at the Sizzler.”

“That’s his fifth glass. Is anyone
gonna tell him that cooler is
not filled with Russian vodka?”


“This new T-shirt cannon will get
those loudmouths to shut up.”

The Terminix Kill Squad
was on the hunt.

Those will go well with a garlic
and parsley butter, paired
with a rich Chardonnay.


“Someone send us some
Black Flag…quick!”

“Geez, can you keep it down in here?”

“It appeared he got drunk at the
zoo and then someone dared him
to snap the tiger’s balls
with a wet towel.”


“Welcome to American Polka Idol!
Let’s meet our three judges.”

The other girls’ reaction when
learning that bitch Lorraine
was taking Calvin Klein to the
Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Guest starring Richard Kind
as the jeep driver.

I recall all the mornings in college
I saw that expression on a girl’s face.

“The place is infested with humans
again! Call the exterminator!”

“Turn the lights out you
bunch of pervs.”

Remember to use a slow, even
application of heat to ensure
your steaks are properly cooked.

 

Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

Graham tells Ben what he thinks of Pat.

Ben: “She’s quite a doctor.”
Graham: “Yeah, if she’s the kind that takes care of sick people, I think I’ll get a fever real quick.”

Shadow’s Comment: Be sure to insist on a hernia and prostate exam.


  • Giant ants will eat anyone except old people.
  • The Department of Agriculture is the first line of defense against giant bugs.
  • Important scientists are ferried around the nation on military aircraft.
  • Kids hate the smell of formic acid.
  • There are some major crises that are not worth bothering Washington DC over.
  • Generals aren’t above piloting choppers or schlepping crates when secrecy is required.
  • A single length of rope will allow you to descend hundreds if not thousands of feet.
  • You can drive a car at least a mile after having one arm violently severed.
  • Giant ants are as quiet and stealthy as ninjas.
  • Sometimes plot armor isn’t enough to save you.

Graham and Ben prepare to enter the ants' nest.

Medford: “All parts of the nest should have been thoroughly saturated by now.
Graham: “If I can still raise an arm when we get out of this place, I’m gonna show you just how well saturated I can get.”

Shadow’s Comment: You and me both, pal!


Ben, Graham and Pat inside the ant nest.

Pat: “Look.” points at cave walls “Held together with saliva.”
Ben: “Yeah…spit is all that’s holding me together right now, too.”

Shadow’s Comment: Good thing you wore your brown underwear.

 

Movie Trailer
This Film & Me
I can remember seeing this movie as a very young child in the early 70’s. I recall watching with my older sisters, who had to explain various things to me since I didn’t fully grasp everything that was transpiring. I do remember being surprised and feeling somewhat sad at the death of Ben Peterson. To four-year-old me, it was an utter tragedy. Over the next few years I saw the movie a handful of times and it became known in my mind as the movie where the “cool hero dies at the end.” Then, like so many movies from that time period, Them vanished from the airwaves as TV stations began airing movies that were not as old. The age of the late night horror host came to an end and such fare was increasingly more rare. Then the video boom of the mid 80’s hit and Hollywood vaults were raided for every science fiction and horror film that studio execs could get their hands on. This is when I obtained a copy of Them on VHS. I watched that tape numerous times over the ensuing twenty years before upgrading to DVD. I generally don’t upgrade to Blu-ray except in certain cases. Them definitely qualifies, though I have not procured a Blu-ray copy just yet.


 

Rating
Shadow Says


Shadow's rating: Eight Tombstones



The Good

  • Great looking monsters
  • Good characters
  • Excellent pacing

The Bad

  • Needed a good monster rampage

The Ugly

  • That darn 50's lack of continuity strikes again
  • Production crew's shadows and reflections seen a lot

 

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