The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

THEM! (1954) ***

James Whitmore is a desert cop who gets teamed up with Fed James Arness to figure out who’s been opening trailers like tomato cans and killing people. They deduce that it’s the work of Giant Mutant Killer Ants that have grown to freakish size because they got hit with an A-Bomb. And naturally, the only man who can stop them is Santa Claus (or at least Edmund Gwenn from Miracle on 34th Street).

Them! is just about as good as a Giant Mutant Killer Ant Movie as we’re likely ever to see. Year after year, SYFY Channel gets littered with giant bug movies, but they rarely if ever achieve the heights of Them! The film is filled with some great giant ant special effects, yet it’s the sound design that makes Them scary. From the whistling desert winds, to the piercing sounds of the approaching ants, the build-up to the ant attacks are just as nerve-wracking as the attacks themselves.

The great cast definitely makes Them! a notch or two better than your standard bug flick. James Whitmore and James Arness are good as the two heroes and there’s an amusing bit by Davy Crockett himself, Fess Parker. But it’s Edmund Gwenn who steals the movie. He’s pretty awesome as the absent-minded scientist trying to squash the bugs.

Director Gordon Douglas had a long and interesting career. He directed everything from Little Rascals shorts to Dick Tracy movies to Elvis films to Blaxploitation flicks. Douglas brings a sense of style to the ant attacks, especially whenever machine guns, bazookas, and flamethrowers are involved.

Them! builds to a rousing conclusion… at about the 45 minute mark. Then some queen ants fly away from their nest and the movie has to start all over again. This section of the film is particularly slow and the flick doesn’t build up any steam again until it’s very nearly over. It does get points for the downbeat ending though. But despite some draggy sequences late in the game, Them! remains required viewing for fans of 50’s horror and sci-fi.

Tags: horror, sci-fi, t

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