Top positive review
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"Spit's all that's holding me together right now, too!"
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!