31 Days Of Horror continues as we go back, way back to the 1950s and take a look at Them!
Giant Atomic Monsters! You’ve got to love the science fiction and horror movies post World War Two. Back then, the only thing we had to worry about besides Communist domination of the world was radiation making animals and insects into giant rampaging beasts. Most of those movies are crap. One, however, is pretty damn good.
Them! starts off as a police mystery, with two cops finding a little girl wandering down a New Mexico road. She is in such shock that she can’t even speak. Slowly, we see the police trying to get to the bottom of this, as they find a trailer and a general store that is torn to pieces while they keep hearing an odd sound.
One of New Mexico’s finest goes out to see what that sound is, and dies while emptying his service revolver. Shortly afterward a “Top. Man.” from the FBI shows up to investigate all this and a foot impression is found in the sand. The government, in its wisdom, sends a bug expert to the scene. It’s not long before he confirms that we got us a case of giant irradiated ants, boys.
Before long the G-man and the State trooper find the ant’s nest and descend underground with Thompson machine guns and a flamethrower to make those giant ants into good giant ants. Turns out they are a bit too late, as a couple of Queens have hatched and flown the coup! Yaaas queen slay!
The action then takes us into California in a tense race against time before the two queens get busy making more giant ants, as Them! reaches its finale.
We are treated to an action-packed finale among the sewers of LA featuring the army, the Feds, some cops, and giant atomic ants.
Don’t let the idea of 50s-era giant ant puppets put you off. They actually don’t look at all bad. All the ants used for the money shots are well done, and were state of the art for the time.
The characters are likable. Them! manages to be a pretty cool blend of a police investigation and thriller mixed with science fiction horror, and a warning about the dangers of the atomic age. One thing you will notice, if you aren’t brain-dead, is that a lot of this movie will remind you of Aliens.
Them! was made by Warner Bros. Pictures, produced by David Weisbart, directed by Gordon Douglas, and starred James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, and James Arness. The film is based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates, which was then developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and an adaptation by Russell Hughes.
It was originally conceived to be in 3D and Warner Color. During pre-production, test shots in color and 3D were made however the 3D rig kept failing. For speed and budget reasons they reverted to standard black and white.
If you haven’t seen this before, it is a must-watch.
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