Movie Review: Them! (1954)
When a small southwestern town sees a spate of sugar theft mixed with mysterious deaths, a scientist and his daughter are brought in to investigate. They soon discover that a new breed of giant ants have mutated from local nuclear testing and must fight against the odds to preserve the human dominance of earth.
I watch classic horror movies more for the lols than anything, but every once in a while, one manages to actually stand the test of time and still scare me.
Anyone who knows much about ants knows that they actually are rather awful creatures. They’re vicious, disturbingly strong for their size, and single-minded to the point of obsession. That’s the perfect recipe for a formidable opponent if they were any larger. Combine this with the very real threat of nuclear mutation, and you have the recipe for an ideal horror film.
Something the classic movies did better than today is establish a strong plot-line. The action is not constant. It is interspersed with scenes in which the characters attempt to figure out what is going on and determine what to do about it. This ups the tension for the inevitable “battle the monster” scenes that eventually play out.
Of course a strong idea and plot can still be undermined by outdated special effects. These effects, however, have truly stood the test of time. The ants look frightening, not comical. The scenes are shot in such a way that it all appears to be fairly real, particularly for the decade. When the sound effect given to the ants–a sort of high-pitched squealing–is added in, it becomes quite easy to suspend disbelief.
If you enjoy a good creature feature as well as an old movie periodically, you won’t regret your time spent watching Them!
5 out of 5 stars