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Them! (1954)

 -  Horror | Sci-Fi  -  19 June 1954 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 12,374 users  
Reviews: 195 user | 90 critic

The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

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(screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Onslow Stevens ...
Sean McClory ...
Chris Drake ...
Sandy Descher ...
Mary Alan Hokanson ...
Mrs. Lodge (as Mary Ann Hokanson)
Don Shelton ...
...
Olin Howland ...
Jensen (as Olin Howlin)
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Storyline

In the New Mexico desert, Police Sgt. Ben Peterson and his partner find a child wandering in the desert and sooner they discover that giant ants are attacking the locals. FBI agent Robert Graham teams up with Ben and with the support of Dr. Harold Medford and his daughter Dr. Patricia 'Pat' Medford, they destroy the colony of ants in the middle of the desert. Dr. Harold Medford explains that the atomic testing in 1945 developed the dangerous mutant ants. But they also discover that two queen ants have flown away to Los Angeles and they are starting a huge colony in the underground of the city. When a mother reports that her two children are missing, the team and the army have a lead to follow. Will they arrive in time to save the children and destroy the colony? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ant | desert | fbi | fbi agent | new mexico | See more »

Taglines:

The Sci-Fi Classic of the Atomic Age See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 June 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Them  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1998, Joan Weldon revealed that during the shoot of Them! (1954), the temperature reached 110°F and both she and Edmund Gwenn were wearing wool clothing. It was even more insufferable for Gwenn, who struggled with advanced arthritis. Although unnoticeable to audiences, he was in pain and was helped off set by his valet. See more »

Goofs

The ants are destroyed in the original nest using cyanide (HCN) gas. HCN works by attacking hemoglobin and changing it into cyanohemaglobin, which holds tightly to oxygen and won't release it to tissues. As Dr. Medford points out, ants and other insects breath through spiracles in their sides, which send oxygen directly to individual cells via tiny Malphigian tubes. Insects have no hemoglobin, so they would be immune to HCN. Something like nerve gas would work because it is similar to organophosphate insecticide. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Harold Medford: [addressing a group of government officials] That, gentlemen, is why you are here - to consider this problem and, I hope, solve it. Because unless you solve it, unless these queens are located and destroyed before they've established thriving colonies and can produce, heaven alone knows, how many more queen ants, man, as the dominant species of life on earth, will probably be extinct within...
[looking at another scientist]
Dr. Harold Medford: a year, Doc?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Futurama: Fry and Leela's Big Fling (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
B-Grade but a real "Lord of the Things"!
1 January 2005 | by (Adelaide, South Australia) – See all my reviews

As has been my habit of late, I'm catching-up on old movies I remember from my youth seen on the screen at the time of release or remembered from '60s-'80s replays on late-night television. Watching them on a widescreen TV in DVD format with surround sound and, of course, with the benefit of hindsight, it becomes a whole new experience.

THEM! is a wonderful Cold-War era movie which manages, without trying, to prove that modern SF blockbusters owe much to their (especially) '50s progenitors. Given the limited budget of B-Grade movies they manage to thrill across the generations - even while remakes and plagiaristic sequences abound and dazzle contemporary audiences.

The 'storm-drain' sequence in T2 is a prime example, as is the 'egg burning' scenario in ALIEN, complete with flamethrowers. You saw them first in THEM!, folks. The 'isolated and mysteriously-wrecked gas station/general store' is another stolen moment from THEM! and has appeared in many movies - even the X-FILES. Wearing the flame-retardant suits and the breathing-apparatuses to attack 'the nest' pops up in EVOLUTION. And so it goes.

There are some excellent actors in this film - most of whom are B-Grade stalwarts (James Whitmore and James Arness for example) - and they play it straight. No 'camping-it-up' for these heroes! I even spotted a young Leonard Nimoy as an Airforce sergeant. Fess Parker as the confused witness of the 'ant-shaped UFOs' offers both light-hearted humour and the prototype for the innocent caught in a cover-up: he's left in the mental hospital as a deranged psychotic as per the suggestion put to his doctor. How many times have we seen this since? Even the little girl, a traumatised survivor of the attack on her parents' trailer-home, has resonances in the character of a similar survivor in ALIENS.

OK, the irradiated monsters/ants are pretty hokey, but see my remark re small budgets. CGI didn't exist then.

I'd place this production alongside such classics as INVADERS FROM MARS and the British QUATERMASS (trilogy?) which also terrorised my generation. We were children in a time when the world seemed doomed to nuclear destruction and our homes ripe for invasion by THEM!, regardless of who (yes, I know, the Communists) or what (monsters created by our cavalier use of technology) would be invading. And, strangely, nothing has changed, except that postmodern children seem to have lost their innocence in a demonstrably violent and insane milieu. As I stated before, these movies, in hindsight have lost none of their power. The themes remain the same.


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