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Them 1954

In this Cold War era film, nuclear tests in the desert result in the growth of gigantic mutant ants who menace cities in the south-west of the US. A team of investigators and the Army search for a way to control their spread. But will the ants prove too much for them?

Starring:
James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn
Runtime:
1 hour, 28 minutes

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: DVD
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.
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By A Customer on 6 Sept. 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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