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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TRAILER – THEM! (1954)

Landmark science fiction film about giant ants was one of the first of the atomic age monster movies and remains one of the best to come out of the 1950s. Though THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) was the first creature feature to explore the possible consequences of mankind entering the atomic age, THEM! was the initial film to fantasize the effects atomic radiation may have on living creatures, in this case common desert ants in New Mexico.

The film has stood the test of time and still works beautifully because of its documentary type style and straightforward story. The pacing is beautiful as it starts out as a standard police mystery and then transforms itself into a science fiction thriller once the ants show up. I can picture how scared 1950s audiences must have been when they finally realize that it is a colony of giant ants that are responsible for the plot’s killings. The ants themselves remind me of the shark in JAWS. Both are 'life-sized”, giant mechanical props that are effective even if they don’t look entirely real; proof that a strong story can trump some not-so special effects and make a film work.

THEM! was Warner Brother’s biggest hit of 1954 and its success spawned a whole slew of giant insect movies that are still being made up to this day. I’m itching to see this one remade as I can only imagine what it would be like to watch an effective update with solid direction and JURASSIC PARK style special effects. My mouth literally waters at the thought. At Hollywood’s rate of grinding out remakes, my wish will probably come true.