When a little girl is found in the desert, the cops
determine that her parents are missing, their trailer wrecked. Soon,
an old man and a cop are killed mysteriously.
When an FBI agent investigates, a Washington bug expert, arrives.
He determines that the prints left behind are that of a giant ant,
apparently enlarged by nuclear radiation. Soon, the authorities
discover large colonies of gigantic mutant ants who begin to prey
upon the cities in the American south-west, and must come up with
a way to control these scary beasties.
Soon, queen ants fly off and make a nest in Los Angeles' sewer system.
Arness and military men fight the giant ants with flame throwers
and machine guns, eliminating the huge pests.
Promotional Lines: "A horror horde of crawl-and-crush
giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs! Kill one
and two take its place! An Endless Terror! A Nameless Horror!"
Quote from Dr. Harold Medford: " We may be
witnessing a Biblical prophecy come true--the beasts will reign
over the earth."
Director Gordon Douglas' THEM, is definitely one
of the better giant insect movies of the fifties. The Screenplay,
by Ted Sherdeman, is lean and tight, even keeping the obligatory
1950's romantic subplot to a minimum.
When a little girl (Sandy Descher) is found wandering alone in the
New Mexico desert, local cop, Sgt. Ben Paterson (James Whitmore
-"Shawshank Redemption") investigates. The parent's trailer
is found destroyed, her parents missing.
Soon, an old man, as well as Whitmore's partner, are killed by a
mysterious assailant. When the autopsy is done on "Gramps,"
the local doctor announces that he had "...enough formic acid
in him to kill twenty men." FBI agent, Rober Graham (James
Arness), is called in. Considering he was playing the title role
in "The Thing", only three years before, Jim "Gunsmoke"
Arness was definitely moving up in the world with this role.
When Arness sends a strange footprint back to Washington, insect
expert, dr. Harold Medford, (Edmund Gwenn -"Miracle on 34th
Street") shows up by return mail. Before long, Gwenn declares
that the killings have been done by giant ants, mutated as the result
of atomic testing. The fact that a scene like this is credible is
much to the credit of actor Gwenn and Director Douglas.
My favorite scenes in the film are set in the Los Angeles river
channel. Although much used by TV and film over the years, it's
rarely been turned into such a fascinating environment, with many
military vehicles and soldiers bustling about.
TV fans will get a kick out of seeing Fess Parker in a brief scene
as a pilot who mistook flying ants for UFO's. Little did Parker
realize that "Davy Crockett" TV fame loomed on the horizon.
The crisp black and white Photography, and clever camera angles
are by Sid Hickox. The choice of black and white, frequently used
in the fifties, helps heighten the drama and credibility of the
story. The Music, by Bronislau Kaper, effectively underscores the
The giant ants are kept away from full view for sometime, which
is fortunate. When you do seem them clearly, they're not that great
by today's standards, but were probably state-of-the-art for the
THEM should be watchable for most Sci-Fi fans, except for those
driven buggie by giant bug movies. If you have a taste for giant
insects, THEM should make a satisfying film feast indeed.
BEST BETS: FOOD OF THE GODS, TARANTUL, and STARSHIP TROOPERS.