Old Ass Horror: Them! (1954)

By  · Published on October 17th, 2010

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.

Synopsis: The police are investigating some mysterious disappearances in a small community. Is it a serial kidnapper? Extortionists leaving ransom notes? Briefcases full of money from drug deals gone bad enticing men to take off from home? Nope! It’s giant mutant ants.

Killer Scene: As fans of the film know, there are two ramp ups in the types of weapons that the local and federal police use on the water-tower-sized Vespoidea Formidicae. The first comes when they realize that revolvers don’t have the kind of effect that machine guns have. The second is when the human beings take a glorious flame thrower straight to the home territory of the ants. It’s a scene that takes the glory of childhood memories of taking a magnifying glass and a hot sun to an ant pile, and magnifies it with propane.


Violence: Some old school style monster movie violence takes shape. Most of the bodies at the beginning show the aftermath in gruesome detail, and the fight scenes with the giant killer ants earned the film an Academy Award nomination for special effects. Ants are shoving deadly acid into people with stingers and the army is calling on all out martial law.

Sex: The stork delivered babies until 1961.

Scares: Things on the scary side are a bit dated, but the opening is shot as a true thriller so it has a better pedigree than the usual cheese of the B-movie world. Treating the situation seriously gives it an edge on being scary, and not caring particularly who lives and who gets acid-ed to death helps, too.

Final Thoughts: Them! could have easily melted into obscurity as an undeserving B-movie, but it’s a great movie in its own right. The first act is as strong a police drama as you could hope for – it just so happens that the culprit is a pack (flock?) of ants. AND OUR OWN SELFISH NUCLEAR LUST.

Hopefully it teaches us that nuclear energy is safe, clean, and abundant, but the price is too high because it causes animals to grow to the size of buildings and kill our hicks.

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