Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: Them! (1954)

"Them!" (1954) is a science fiction classic, and the first and best example of what I call "giant bug movies", films from the 1950s about the adverse effects of nuclear fallout on formerly harmless invertebrates.  Atomic tests in New Mexico cause desert ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters who threaten the safety of the world.  Mysterious disappearances and a young girl found wandering in shock by local police sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) and his partner lead to the discovery of these terrifying beasts.  With help from the army, FBI agent Robert Graham (James Arness) and two scientists, Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter Dr. Patricia Medford (Joan Weldon), the ants' nest is found and destroyed.  However, the discovery is too late to prevent the escape of two young queen ants, who fly off to establish new colonies.  These queens are eventually tracked down and killed, but not before one of them wreaks havoc in the storm drain system of Los Angeles. The movie ends with a grim warning from the senior Dr. Medford, who states, "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."  There are a couple of death scenes in this movie, which earns it a "1" on my Gore Guide, but these scenes, while sad, are not at all gory.  This film is highly recommended, especially to those with an interest in science fiction.

Interesting Fact: The distinctive sound that the giant ants make is a recorded chorus of bird-voiced treefrogs (Hyla avivoca) and the occasional grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis), both native to the southeastern United States.

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 1

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