If you’ve been following this month’s blogs, one fact should be very evident … I have an extremely high tolerance for hokey-ness. But even I have my limits.
Hokey-ness is measured on a spectrum and these two movies represent the very worst offender and the one that finally gave us hope that better movie days were ahead.
Most monster/horror movies reflect what’s going on the current society. Today we see a lot of movies about artificial intelligence threatening human life. In the 1940-50’s, nuclear war was on everyone’s mind.
In those days, what we lacked in the special effects department, we more than made up for in imagination. Throw in some thermonuclear capabilities, start pondering about where all that’s taking us, and this is where you can end up … with giant ants. Good grief!
THEM! came out in 1954. I was barely a year old, so by the time I was old enough to be watching movies, I most likely saw it first on TV, either on the Friday Night Frights or a Saturday afternoon.
It’s all about ants that lived in a desert where nuclear bombs were being tested. The ants were adversely affected by the radiation, of course, and turned into giant ants, which turned the people into a food source for the ants. And, naturally, that was really bad for the people.
Of all the creatures on the earth, the last one you want to come after you is the one that’s the most industrious. But the people won in the end after all, so that’s that.
But it didn’t matter, because we had evidence that better movies were in our future. The year before THEM! was released, the original War of the Worlds was released. Side-by-side with a movie from today, it still looks dated, of course. But side-by-side with its contemporaries, it was way ahead of its time.
It’s been remade several times – including just this year, I found out, along with some series that I wasn’t aware of. But that first movie from 1953 is a classic … in full color with those sleek and well-designed alien ships …
The aliens are relentless, and just when you think all is lost and humanity’s fate is sealed, here comes that sweet, surprising victory at the end, and all is right with the world again. And that’s the best way for those kind of stories to end!