English, French, Spanish, German, Czech, Greek, Polish, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Swedish, Finnish, German - Hearing Impaired
Featurette - Behind the Scenes
Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 89 mins .
PG . PAL
I’ve fought a losing battle with ants for years now. Every summer they come out in force in search of food. No matter how clean I keep my house, how secure I make our garbage or how careful I am to lock my sugar stash away, those little f*ckers make their way out of the ground in snaking black lines of death and destruction and get into every nook and cranny they can find in search of something to wrap their shiny black mandibles around.
DIE, YOU ANT BASTARD!
This year I even found them inside the cistern in the toilet, lined up and drinking at the water like it was a frigging ant bar. They’ve come up through the holes in the floor where we have ducted heating vents, they squeeze out from gaps between the skirting boards and the floorboards, from behind the fixtures in the bathroom, from behind the sink, those little motherf*ckers have practically forced me to make my house hermetically sealed. I’ve bought countless tubes of No More Gaps, and still they get in the house!
By now you should get the idea that I hate the little bastards.
So naturally I have a vested interest in movies which depict man going to war with giant mutant ants. These aren’t super smart ants like in Phase 5, nor are they able to disguise themselves as humans as the cockroaches can in Mimic. Back in the '50s moviemakers believed that all you had to do was make something small suddenly a hundred times its normal size and mankind would be faced with extinction.
In THEM! it was that old chestnut atomic testing which was responsible for the miraculous growth of ants situated out in the desert. When some mysterious deaths have the local flatfeet at a deadend with no suspects and only some bizarre evidence they can make neither head nor tails out of, they call in help from the government and get it in the form of a father/daughter team of scientists.
Their investigations reveal that... SHOCK! HORROR! an army of huge mutated ants are responsible. They take precautionary measures which involve gassing the labyrinthine ant nest but discover that they’ve acted too late – a queen ant has escaped and settled into the sewers under Los Angeles! GASP! SHUDDER! EEK!
The battle is on to find the new nest and kill all the ants before any new queens can escape and threaten the safety of the rest of the world. The army is called in, martial law is declared and the world stands on the brink of yet another vengeful attack from the results of man’s tinkering with science.
When, oh when, will we ever learn?
Fantastic, simply a fantastic looking picture. Nearly 50 years old and it looks this good, what a treat. The original aspect ratio is uncertain, but this 1.33 image is probably close enough to the original so as to not make much difference at all. At times incredibly smooth, well detailed, grey tones look fantastic with mostly solid blacks. Naturally enough you’ll see a fair share of grain and there’s the odd film flaw, but it’s perfectly within acceptable ranges and suits the film anyway.
The same goes for the audio, this is simple yet easily capable of creating the right atmosphere for a silly film about big-arse ants, even if it only uses the centre speaker in a mono config. The eerie screeching sound of the ants is loud and annoying, and I’m sure was used for a UFO effect in some other film, the dialogue is spot on at all times, the effects-work, whether it be machine guns, flamethrowers or bazookas, all sound fine. They’ve done a great job of getting this to us in this condition, I defy you to find issue with it that can’t be excused due to the age of the film.
Extras? On an old ’50s sci-fi film? From Warner Bros.? You’re kidding right? So that’s why this DVD surprised me so much.
The very cool looking menu system.
The menu is a parody of a tacky tabloid newspaper, with the news items the menu selections for language, subs, extras, etc. Go into the “Special Features” section, and it reveals Behind the Scenes! An Exclusive Video Exposé!” which is three minutes of footage from the film showing things not quite working properly. Photo Gallery! The Fabulous Story in Pictures! is a collection of production stills and some of the movie poster, again presented in the tabloid style, and Captured on Film! A Sneak Peek! is the trailer. I know it doesn’t look like much, and it isn’t, but I was happy to get this little amount with a cool looking menu system, considering some of the bare recycled NTSC rubbish we’ve had to deal with recently.
A “must own” if you’re into these old films. Nothing beats a night watching man battle huge stiffly moving models of giant ants. They also never adequately explain what exactly the problem is with giant ants running around our cities. It’s not like they shoot fire from their mouths, or killer bees from their butts, and all you have to do to survive is walk a bit faster than they can. Yet in every scene when man is confronted with one of the lumbering ants, all he does is stand there and take tiny shuffling steps backwards, screaming like a girl until someone else comes to his rescue. Here’s a clue – RUN! Or even – WALK BRISKLY! Get in a car and drive away. Throw something at it. Anything! It’s no wonder mankind was nearly wiped out every week in the ’50s by an invasion of big things. Still, great stuff, I want more!
"Atomic testing creates huge mutant ants which threaten mankind. As soon as I download the instructions from the 'net, I'm gonna make my own atomic bomb and nuke the bloody ants in my backyard right back to hell." - Vince Carrozza