Retro Review : Them!

Directed by

Gordon Douglas

Written by

Ted Sherdeman
Russell Hughes
George Worthing Yates

Starring

James Whitmore
Edmund Gwenn
Joan Weldon
James Arness

Music By

Bronislau Kaper

Warner Bros.

Original Release Date : June 19, 1954

 

About 10 years ago I was living in a posh apartment in Frisco, and one night I invited my friends over for some drinks and debauchery. Later that evening we took a jaunt over to Wendys for some late night foodage. The partying continued and in the destruction a plate of french fries was buried under a pile of pillows. The following day I woke up to a trail of ants coming from the patio to the double fried potato sticks. There is nothing more disgusting than the sight of insectual feasting…all those little ants ripping the shit out of the fries and taking it back to the colony. So, so gross.

Well, I first heard of the movie THEM! by playing Fallout 3. During the game the player must save a city overrun by giant, mutated ants. This mission was called….you guessed it… “Them!”

This film follows a group of heroes battling an army of mutated ants. The mutation was a result of atomic radiation created from nuclear testing. Although the group were ultimately successful,  the film ends on a ominous tone with the lead scientist saying, “When man entered the atomic age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.”

Kaper’s musical arrangement is incredibly effective, as was the chilling  Sound the ants used to communicate. The acting was, for the most part, above average given the style of the time period. Everyone knows that no suspense film is complete without a creepy child. This child, played by Sandy Descher, fills this role in spades. The half broken doll was a nice touch.  There was also a feminist edge to this film that made me cheer. In one scene, Dr. Pat Medford (Joan Weldon) was prepared to enter the colony because her father, Dr. Harold Medford, (played by Edmund Gwenn) was unable to due to his age. The able bodied men originally protested, exclaiming that the dangerous colony was no place for a woman. Dr. Pat Medford appealed to their common sense…a scientist was needed and no other one was present. Remember folks, this was the 1950’s.

The special effects, while obviously dated, are still pretty impressive. I also had no idea that they had flame throwers back then. I know, duh…if they can make the atom bomb, they can make flame throwers.

Them! is available to watch instantly on Netflix. If you are a fan of sci-fi, like monster movies, or are interested in films from the 1950’s, this one is worth checking out.

 

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