released out now! 1954 | PG | blu-ray & dvd (dual format)
Director Gordon douglas Cast James Whitmore, edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon
blu-ray debut Halfway through this atomic age monster movie there’s a short real-life nature film about ants and how they operate. It’s fascinating, arguably more so than the main feature surrounding it, and it also rather shows up the movie’s ant puppetry.
Harsh perhaps, because Them! is a solid sci-fi suspenser. But, crikey, there are more meetings in it than a lawyers’ annual jamboree – talk is cheap, and giant ants are expensive, presumably. It’s a good 27 minutes before we see outsized mandibles, after the initial investigations into a ransacked store and a battered corpse found in the desert. When it turns out that giant radioactive ants are to blame, there’s meeting after meeting to discuss the threat. We get more discussion of the threat than sight of the threat itself, which is a shame if only because of the spooky humming the insects make when they’re around.
A fiery, sewer-set climax finishes things on a high. Them! was a popular and influential film, but its impact has inevitably been weakened – if it’s more polished man vs bug action you’re after, maybe stick Starship Troopers on?
Extras Three minutes of out-takes, providing glimpses of the crew operating the giant ants; trailer; gallery. This HMV exclusive also comes with four artcards. Russell Lewin
A young Leonard Nimoy makes a brief appearance as an army sergeant reading a report of “flying saucers shaped like ants”.
Barry hadn’t acted this way on the first date.