Film Review: Them! (1954)

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Them! is often regarded the best of the atomic age ‘giant critter’ flicks, and not without good reason. The story is quintessential for the time and genre: radioactive ants grow to unusual size, threaten humanity, and only the military and leading scientists can save everyone.  What really helps put Them! over the top is its opening sequence, in which two police officers discover a little girl roaming the desert in a catatonic state. Looking for her family, they come across a demolished trailer and a destroyed store, a few dead bodies — and what’s that eerie sound? The atmosphere of dread and mystery is pretty palpable here.

Production values are unusually high for a B-movie and the acting is better than usual, especially from Edmund Gwenn (Oscar-winner for his portrayal of Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street), who delivers all the doom and gloom exposition, and lectures us on the dangers of science (because somebody has to, dammit). Aside from the wonderful opening, there’s also a nice sequence where a team of police and scientists descend into the ant colony and attack the ants with flame throwers (flame throwers are ALWAYS cool).

As it winds down, Them! starts to look more and more like any other atomic flick, but it has enough going for it in the first two-thirds to recommend, and to set it apart from most other titles in the genre.

Rating: 3.25/5 ★★★¼☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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