58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2007
I first saw this movie when I was very young and the images stayed with me for a long time, especially the atmospheric and climatic assault on the Los Angeles storm drains sequence. Years later, I happened to see it again and it was this viewing that established Them! firmly in my list of all time favourite movies.
So, what's so special about this movie? - I hear you ask. Well, you often hear the term 'classic' being applied to movies of this era and, quite often, they simply don't deserve it. Them! is one of the few movies that qualifies to be called a classic and rightly so. Quite simply, it's one of the best creature movies of the 1950's.
Its basic plot is very simple. Strange things are happening in the desert of New Mexico - a child is found wandering in shock and a general store is ransacked, its owner pumped full of enough formic acid to kill 20 men. Police Sgt Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) and FBI agent Robert Graham (James Arness) are assigned to investigate. But they are at a loss to explain what's going on until the arrival of Dr Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter Pat (Joan Weldon). What they discover has far reaching consequences. Atomic bomb testing has created a colony of giant mutated ants. And if the queen ant mates and hatches her eggs it could be the end of civilization as we know it!
For a movie made in the 1950's, the effects are surprisingly good. Of course, the focus is on the giant ants and, while today's audiences would probably find them laughable, if you stop to think about it, they really are remarkably effective for the age - I've seen worse giant crawlie effects in far younger movies. And the sound effect for the giant ants - a sort of chirrupy-whistling - is suitably creepy and instantly memorable.
For me, the best scene in the whole movie is the heroes' descent into the ants' nest. Atmospherically lit, with rolling mist (cyanide gas!) and dead ants everywhere, this is the definitive stand out scene. It's also the one that inspired the quote at the head of this review. In fact, speaking of quotes, check out the interplay between the four main characters. The dialogue and action flows so freely that, on occasion, it almost feels as though the actors were ad-libbing! It makes for an interesting and unique viewing experience!
So, in short, Them! is a landmark movie that should form part of any discerning viewers' DVD collection. Boasting Academy Award nominated special effects and a competent and likable cast, this movie spawned a generation of films about mutated gigantic creatures. Few have equalled the artistry of Them! If you don't believe me then give it a go - you won't be disappointed!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This entertaining eco-disaster movie opens in eerily atmospheric fashion, with a couple of police officers discovering a shocked little girl wandering through the New Mexico desert clutching a shattered toy doll, the dumbstruck and terrified youngster eventually manages to cry out the immortal word THEM!
The initial investigation uncovers a mysterious death in a ransacked little general store. With the nearby area having previously been used as an atomic weapon test site, the full horror from the fallout takes the form of radiation-infected giant ants, who before eventually revealing themselves in all their glory remain unseen, while only signaling their presence with a series of ominously menacing sounds.
With the scale of the threat becoming obvious, the decision is made to fly in entomologist Dr Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter. Cue an informative lecture on the highly organised world of the ant, as our insect expert imparts educated advice to the attending powers that be, before the military offensive begins.
The special effects are quite good (for the time). The good script provides an enjoyable sci-fi/monster story that holds the attention, before the movie eventually reaches the final showdown, with the giant menace threatening Los Angeles via the city's storm drains. Solid performances all round contribute to one of the best "creature features" of the 50's, a golden era for sci-fi/monster flicks.
The black and white picture and sound quality are good. The disc features a stylish newspaper headline-style menu. The extras are a short behind the scenes expose', a photo gallery and a trailer.
The spoken languages are: English, German, Spanish.
The subtitle languages are: English, French, Spanish, Finnish, German, Icelandic, Swedish, Turkish, Czech, Polish, Greek, Dutch.
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2003
I grew up in the States watching a Saturday show called 'Creature Double Feature'. My Dad and I would crash in front of the TV for 3-4 hours watching the films he grew up on. I saw everything from 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' and 'Earth vs. the Flying Saucers' to 'The Brain that Wouldn't Die' and 'The Day of the Triffids'. But, by far, the most memorable of any film I saw was 'Them!'.
From the eerie shrieking sounds near a destroyed desert shop (reminiscent of the 'Day of the Triffids', hear 'em before you see 'em), to a small young girl screaming in her hospital bed (Kaiser Sosae!), to the Los Angeles sewer system, this movie stayed with me for for 20+ years.
Yeah, the creatures are a bit static, but they look great and the buildup of suspense (for its time) is fantastic. I remember in specific a woman who gets off her bus on a fog drenched night, hears the eerie noise and know she's being stalked by something, inspiring her to run screaming. Reminds me in a sense of 'Alien' - you know its there, its hungry and its faster than you are.
If you're a true fan of classic sci-fi, you can't afford not to own this film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As a kid, I thought it was entertaining to squirt ants with my water gun and see if they could get away without drowning. I'm not proud of that fact, but I daresay I'm not the only dumb kid who ever tortured ants for fun. You can't tell me you've never kicked over an anthill before. For centuries, ants have also paid the price for the "crimes" committed by their nastier cousins (bees, wasps, etc.) because they are the perfect scapegoats - you can find them anywhere, and they're oh so harmless (well, except for the likes of fire ants and soldier ants). Just think about how many ants you've unknowingly squashed under your shoes over the years. Even those who "wouldn't hurt a fly" have probably sent countless ants to that big ant hill in the sky. If I were an ant, I would hunger for revenge on all the ruthless humans. Here they are, mind bogglingly more powerful than the mightiest of their tormentors (no human can lift something twenty times his own body weight), veterans of interspecies warfare, more organized than even the mightiest of human armies, and yet they can do nothing but wish they were large enough to really teach humans a lesson. Ironically, human beings actually grant them their wish in this seminal science fiction/horror classic.
Nothing much happens out in the New Mexico desert - until now. It's a big mystery at first, as Sgt. Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) and his partner pick up a shell-shocked young girl wandering aimlessly in the desert, then discover an abandoned car trailer down the road that has been ripped apart pretty good. The only clues - a bloody shirt, a mysterious print in the sand, and some scattered sugar cubes. The situation gets curiouser and curiouser when they check in at Gramps' store and find it all smashed up, just like the trailer. Neither the cops nor FBI Agent Robert Graham (James Arness) can make heads or tails of it all. They are still grasping at straws when Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter Pat (Joan Weldon) from the Department of Agriculture arrive in town. Their suspicions are soon confirmed - it's an ant problem. A really, really big ant problem. A really, really big problem with really, really big ants. Nine years after the atomic tests in that area of the desert, the radiation has caused the most unnatural of genetic mutations. The brass wants to find and bomb the nest, but the good doctor points out the futility of such an act. It's not just a matter of killing the gigantic ants - they have to make sure no queens have escaped to parts unknown. If that has indeed happened, a whole army of Orkin men couldn't save mankind.
The idea of giant ants terrorizing the countryside sounds pretty hokey, but Them! is fantastically successful at presenting the story in a serious, plausible manner. The question of whether or not to inform the public is given due consideration, for example, and the giant ants themselves are pretty impressive, especially for 1954. I doubt they would scare even the youngest of kids in our day and time, but they are not ludicrously constructed, ridiculous looking "monsters" (OK, I'll admit those giant pipe cleaner antennae are borderline adorable) or the product of superimposed images of ants run amuck. You also don't get too many shots of them along the way, and this helps the film generate an impressive amount of suspense early on. Throw in some pretty good acting (Edmund Gwenn and James Whitmore are especially good, while James Arness' voice alone lends a serious air to every scene) and a minimum of nuclear bomb moralizing, and you've got yourself one of the best classic monster movies ever made.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2009
'Them' has become something of a cult movie in the more than fifty years since it's production. It should certainly be in the collection of sci-fi fans and probably mainstream enthusiasts too. Among the best of the post-atomic monster movies and filmed in the superb location of the wild scrub desert area of New Mexico it possesses all the ingredients to keep one on their toes with eyes sharpened and ears on red alert. With giant mutant ants on the loose you can't be too careful! In one memorable back straightening scene when suddenly faced with the multi-legged shrieking horror, the good Doctor scientist shouts above reactive gunfire "get the antenn'a , the other antenn'a, they are helpless without them! Serious stuff! Shot in black and white with a great cast and genuinely scary special effects, it could be a good idea to have a hand to hold when watching this one! I can only say that every time I hear the chirruping, high pitched twitter of a loose motorcar fan belt I look over my shoulder !
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2008
I first saw this film when I was about 13 (i'm now 26) on the TV over a friends house and I thought it was brilliant then and I still do now, I own it on DVD and every time I watch it I get chills up my spine.
Don't get me wrong the film isn't exactly terrifying but I still have vivid memories of the first time I heard the eerie sound of the Ants communicating with each other and the horrible screams of their victims.
The special effects are stunning considering how old the film is and the Ants are genuinely scary if you can see past the fact that they are obviously models. I guess you could say the storyline of giant radioactive Ants in the desert is a bit pants but c'mon this was the 50's an era notorious for giant irradiated mutations running around killing small town Americans...films like this are classic and I recommend it, especially at the low price Amazon are offering it at.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2003
When the format first appeared I always hoped this film would be released on DVD and five long years later it's here!. Not only a great example of 1950's Sci-fi nuclear panic/monster movie, but a truly all time great movie, in my humble opinion. The story rips along, there's plenty of suspense and some truly memorable sequences. The mutated ants may in reality be large mechanical puppets, but they were still convincing enough even when I first saw this film on 1970's late night TV. This DVD presents a superb print of this black & white classic, plus the film's trailer, and bonus footage showing special effects/photography set ups.
A great cast, especially James Whitmore's portrayal of the police patrolman, some brilliant, and occasionally humorous, but never spoofy, dialogue, and those superbly evocative Southern US desert landscapes. This film is one the all time sci-fi/horror/fantasy classics. Watch out for a brief early sighting of Leonard Nimoy, playing a US army sergeant.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2013
Them! One of my favourite Sci-fi films despite its age.
It is a wonderfully atmospheric film that started the craze of giant creature features in the 1950s. It was never surpassed in either effects or quality and is still exciting today although younger viewers would bemoan the lack of CGI. We are not shown the ants until a significant way through the film and then only in part - a clever tactic which helps to build up the suspense.
One of the most haunting effects of the whole film is the noise the film makers gave to the ants communicating - stridulation, which some ants can achieve by rubbing sections of their thorax together. Not all ant species can do this.
The actors, although not 'A' raters, give a good account of themselves, particularly Edmund Gwenn who is ideally cast as the aging Dr. Metford. The mood of impending doom is occasionally lifted with some well timed, witty remarks and the whole film moves along at a cracking pace.
As a closing aside I would like to relate a little story. A few years ago I was standing on a platform at London's Clapham Junction train station with my daughter (who also likes the film) when one of the, then, newer tube trains pulled into the northernmost platform. As it braked it created an eerie sound and as one my daughter and I turned to each other and said 'Them'. The noise was remarkably similar to the ants 'stridulation' in the film!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Weird deaths are occurring in the New Mexico desert, it is revealed to be the work of giant mutated ants born out of the A Bomb tests that took place there. Trouble escalates to the big city of Los Angeles when one of the giant queen ants escapes to L.A. and starts laying eggs that could lead to the end of mankind as we know it.
This is a cautionary tale about scientific tampering fused with a Cold War theme of destroying a threat to the country. Boasting some wonderful scenes such as the first desert encounter (cloaked in a sandstorm) and the final underground battle, Them! is a truly enjoyable viewing experience that oozes the right amount of paranoia that became ever more prominent as the nuclear age grew. The puppetry and special effects on show is of a very high standard for the time (well done Academy Award Nominee Ralph Ayres), and the direction from Gordon Douglas is one of the better efforts in the genre. The tight story vanquishes any gripes about the plausibility factor, while the acting is, perhaps given the type of piece it is, of a surprisingly good standard. With James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, and Joan Weldon giving it a bit of oopmh. Them! went on to become Warner Brothers highest grossing film in 1954, it's really not hard to see why. Because Them! firmly stands up as one of the best films of a sadly much maligned genre. 8/10
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2003
I first saw this film in local flea pit with my film fanatic mother whilst a small child. It left a life time impression on me. It introduced the shock-horror of the fifties B movies, a love of over the top acting and odd special effects. As for the Ants, who can forget the noise they made and the suspense of the first sighting, I won't, an up turned suger bowl still makes me look over my shoulder. They don't make movies like this now... perhaps just as well, but as an introduction to the fears of the fifties you can't do much better. Nuclear poisoning will get us all in the end!! One of my top 50 films of all time.