Them! 1954 ★★★★

If there's one thing that Hollywood seems to be able to do perhaps consistently better than anything else, it's producing a really good quality and fun monster movie. It's been that way for decades as well, right the way back to the original King Kong. But it was during the sci-fi 'paranoid thriller' boom of the 1950s that they really came into their own.

Them! is one of the very best of them, too. While more serious minded than most of the great examples we've seen of these films in the last 25 years or so, such as Tremors, Deep Rising and Eight Legged Freaks to name but three, there is still an insanely high level of entertainment to be had here as ants, mutated to a giant size by nearby atomic testing, emerge from a nest in New Mexico and threaten to terrify the whole of America.

I'm not one who normally gets that enthused about 'special effects' and stuff of that ilk (sometimes I wonder if I'd happier if all films were lit by a solitary halogen light bulb) but they really are impressive in Them! for a film made in 1954. The flamethrowers especially are not something you expect to see in a film for about another 25 years, and as for the ants themselves, they never look at all wobbly or unconvincing - a massive achievement when compared to many similar films at the time.

Back then, these films were rarely about the performances or actors (this is still largely the case these days, although Lake Placid is perhaps an exception to this rule), but when some emoting is needed the likes of James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn are more than reliable hands. The plot advances really well, too, doesn't overdose on shots of the ants, and has one or two impressively creepy moments.

It's certainly one of those films that I could put on at any time and have a great time with, and it's a great entry point if you are looking to delve into 1950s sci-fi horror.

3 Comments

  • Good review Steve.This is one of my "monster" favorites from the 50s . You are absolutely correct; the special effects were very well done for the time.
    Those darn atomic tests in the desert sure created a lot of neat creatures! :-)
    This is one of the monster classics that I always enjoy rewatching .

  • Cheers, Bill. It is indeed a great film and a lot of films around this time got their plots from atomic paranoia and that kind of thing. I love this era for this genre of films.

  • Another film to watch... :-D

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