Empire of the Ants (1977)
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But you have to look at this film with an open mind. Don't take it too seriously. I think it's a nice adaptation of H.G Well's story.
There's good character development and story; and the ants could have been so much worse. Of course they look fake, but it isn't terrible to look at.
Ant-vision, cheesy ominous music prior to attacks and a strange ending don't improve the quality of the movie though.
All in all, if you like insect-attack movies with a few strange twists and character story, go check this one out.
5 out of 10 ants; ehh stars.
That one scene provides more drama and suspense than anything else in the film! For example: Does Margaret really love Dan? Does Dan really love Marilyn? Does Marilyn really want to give up her life as an independent and successful woman for the macho Dan? Will Margaret kill Marilyn so she can sew buttons for Dan? Will Marilyn kill Margaret and steal her buttons so SHE can sew them for Dan? Will Dan say "to hell with the buttons," rip off his shirt and have his way with both women? Or will Dan say "to hell" with both women and offer them up as sacrifices to the ants?
Alas, the movie never answers these questions. But wouldn't it be cool if it had?
"Empire of the Ants" isn't much of a horror movie, but is more of a soap opera with giant ants added. The cast is full of actors who probably started out on the soaps (Joan Collins, Pamela Shoop, Jacqueline Scott, John David Carson, Edward Power, Robert Pine, Brooke Palance, etc.) and for the most part didn't go too far from this movie in their careers. Is this movie to blame? Who knows, but I would be embarassed to put it on my resume! Collins plays a great bitchy real estate agent and it's in my opinion one of her best performances of the 70s, but the movie doesn't match its excellence!
Most of the acting is pretty good considering the cast is acting against stock footage of ants in an obvious glass ant farm! During a scene where David Carson and Robert Lansing are fighting off ants while boating down a river, Carson is fighting with nothing! The footage is edited so badly that the "trees" in the ant farm don't even match the foliage of the film! There are a few good effects sequences (the ants boarding the tour boat and still on it while the boat burns), but it's either some guy wielding a giant fake ant head or stock footage of an ant farm. And the story of ants attacking prospective real estate customers gets even more convoluted and unbelievable when the survivors come upon a town that (within 24 hours of the ant's growth!) is controlled by the ants' telekinesis (!) and forced to feed the ants in a huge sugar silo! UNBELIEVABLE!
Definitely not for everyone, but I liked most of the cast (Joan Collins, Pamela Susan Shoop, Jacqueline Scott, Robert Lansing, and John David Carson are the best) and "Empire of the Ants" is a guilty pleasure for psychotronic film fans. Sort of hard to find, but Goodtimes Video has a gorgeous print on their video (do you really care with a movie like this?).
Are you, like, totally sick of the city? Do you wanna get away from it all? Do you wanna see your dreams turned into a full-blown reality? The answer is....
DREAMLAND SHORES: A place where people can begin to live
If you're interested, Joan Collins - yes, that's right, Joan Collins - and her real estate agent alter ego, bitchy but fashionable Marilyn Fryser, are here to help you turn those juicy dreams into a reality. Marilyn takes small tours of interested persons to Dreamland Shores every day of the week. You can expect to receive enviable one-star service on her Dreamland property tour: amiable service with a bitchy smile; a semi-relaxing cruise with other potential property investors to the beach front properties; a relaxing ride around Dreamland Shores on a mini road train, complete with megaphone for the hard of hearing, and plentiful $1.99 fish bait under a stained marquee on the beach.
There is, however, one minor problem that should be mentioned before you hop aboard. A little ant problem exists in the Dreamland Shores area. Nothing to panic about, mind you. Just a few ants along the shore, on the jetty, in the forest, in the existing buildings, along the river, and in the trees, that have gone a bit loony after accidentally consuming oodles and oodles of toxic waste that just happened to wash up on shore. Nothing to do with Dreamland Shores, mind you. They've grown considerably in size, and attack when threatened. Some visitors were silly enough to threaten these ants and now lay dead in several locations around Dreamland Shores.
Dreamland Shores Development Ltd accepts no responsibility for any of the following: the stupidity of any potential property investor who ventures off the tour route; any potential property investor who dresses in horrible 1970s fashions that have been scientifically proved to enrage the ants; any potential property investor who tries to kill the ants with flares, oars, or any other kind of tool and/or weapon; any potential property investor who smirks, guffaws, sniggers - or, a combination of all three - at the acting ability of Pamela Susan Shoop, Dreamland Shores' very own tour 'groupie'.
So, why not join Marilyn, and today's potential property investors - superstar actors - Robert Lansing, John David Carson, Jacqueline Scott, Robert Pine, Brooke Palance, and, what a surprise! Pamela Susan Shoop, as we discover the magic of .... Dreamland Shores.
Get the DVD and laugh yourself into oblivion!
This was one of Bert Gordon's final films, and from a technical standpoint it is among his best. The production value looks much higher than his earlier work, and the star power of the cast is evident. The ants, while still relying on a few cheap effects, are overall pretty effective -- though why must they be screeching the entire time? But really, what makes this only a "good" film rather than a "really good" film is the length. This is clearly a 60 or 70-minute film stretched out to 90 minutes, and that allows for the ultimate sin to creep in: boredom.
** (out of 4)
Mr. Big delivers another "big bug movie" with this one dealing with ants. Joan Collins plays a real estate con woman who takes a group of people to the future sight of a "great" beach front property. What they don't know is that a company has been pouring toxic waste in the ocean and unfortunately for them one barrel has found its way on shore and cute little ants have gotten into it. Soon these little creatures are now huge and eating humans. EMPIRE OF THE ANTS got the green light, I'm sure, because Gordon's previous film THE FOOD OF THE GODS turned out to be a decent hit. You really could have called this thing THE FOOD OF THE GODS PART II because they're quite similar but then again both are quite similar to the type of "big" movies Gordon was making in the previous two decades. There's certainly nothing new or original here but if you enjoy Gordon's films then I really see no reason why you won't enjoy this one. As you'd expect, the special effects are quite laughable with Gordon using the same technique in 1977 that he was much earlier in his career. Often times it seems as if the ants are walking in thin air and at other times you can obviously see the rear projection. Most films would be dead in the water with such bad effects but I think it adds some charm because of how serious Gordon treats them. Most directors would know these effects are bad and try to downplay them or hide them but not Gordon. He shows these bad effects with his head held high and it at least gives the viewer some entertainment. Collins and the rest of the cast do what they can with the material they're given but the humans certainly aren't the high point of the film. I think the film would have benefited from being at least ten-minutes shorter as things really start to drag during the final act.
Joan Collins, wearing gaucho pants and boots, establishes herself as a bitch/whore in the opening three minutes. She's selling fake real estate to some of the dullest people ever born. She probably spent most of her paycheck on Band-Aids for the blisters on her feet. The entire cast spends half the movie drenched, but they dry off quickly enough. You'd better like what everyone is wearing, cause no one changes.
You're treated to dialogue like:
the Old Lady: "All we wanted to do was enjoy the rest of our lives. Is that bad?" (you don't see The Old Couple get killed; I think user Troy got it right when he said dementia set it for them at the perfect moment. Plus he pointed out that crazy megaphone!!)
Someone else generic says "This turned out to be one helluva vacation", someone else says "Its not fair this should happen to me" and a character responds to the querie "What about Christine?" with the answer "She didn't make it."
The attacks mainly consist of heightened music, the camera guy bobbing the camera up and down to make the ants look as though they are moving. Throw some water dyed red on their face, and you're less one more cast member.
There was an intentionally funny moment that deserves mention. Two of the survivors are on the street and hear a sound like the ants are approaching, but its just a kid riding a Big Wheels.
The end must be seen to be believed, but it consists of a sugar factory, a queen ant with gas, zombie townies and the best line in the movie.."They are superior"
H.G. Wells is spinning in his grave. I love this movie but obviously do not have a ton of respect for it.
Regardless of anything else, I think we should all raise a glass to Warren Estes, who is listed in the end credits as 'Ant Co-Ordinator'..who else ever held that job on a set? Thanks Warren, thanks to all who make trash cause it has its place, too. 8/10.
Empire of the ants is plausible. It takes thousands of ants to keep the hive going and feed the queen so that the drones can mate with the queen ant so she can lay her eggs producing more worker ants and drone ants. As far as growing to huge size a leap of movie faith must be made. All the rest is very plausible. Ants communicate by way of pheromones so the can recognize one another and the trail back to the nest. It's also an excepted fact that ants can carry many times their own weight. As far as spraying a mist on the other ants it is simply the pheromone which the queen ant gives off so she can control the other ants in the nest.
This movie allegorically uses the humans as ants as they provide the sugar which they need to keep the queen ant fed. The.humans return to receive the queens pheromone spray so she may keep them under control. Well our four heros discover what is going on and devise a way to destroy the ants and flee for freedom. A good movie, wheel worth the time to watch.
People surveying land on an island suddenly have a run in with a colony of radio active giant ants!
Bert I. Gordon is mostly known for his hokey B movies for AIP pictures, this being one of the funniest. Naturally the special FX for these giant creatures are laughably bad and the acting is less-than impressive to say the least. The fact that melodramatic Joan Collins is the star of the film doesn't help matters either! But Empire of the Ants is one of those golden B flicks that are so bad that they have a cheesy kind of entertaining value. It really lands itself in the category of so-bad-it's-good!
While Empire of the Ants certainly isn't for the serious viewer, it's gold to us B fans and one can't deny that it leaves an impression!
** 1/2 out of ****
EMPIRE OF THE ANTS is about a Realtor (Collins) trying to sell swampland to a group of tourists. Together, the entire cast looked like actors that couldn't quite make the cut to get on LOVE BOAT. Well, she takes these suckers on an outing but instead of just being a three-hour tour of the area, all hell breaks loose and they are chased by evil, enormous and incredibly fake-looking ants. Okay, so now you are probably thinking "this sounds horrible--it can't possibly get any stupider"--well, if you ARE thinking that, then are you in for a surprise!!! The ants don't kill them all once they are captured. Nope. Instead, the ants use super mind control to turn them and hundreds of others into slaves to work at their sugar factory!!! Will the ants win and Earth be doomed to be turned into a giant Domino Sugar plantation? Well, tune it to see for yourself!! It's best to see it and be forewarned!
Robert Lansing and John David Carson also star in "EMPIRE OF THE ANTS", a remarkable production financed by the now-defunct Orion Pictures (responsible for releasing many blaxploitation films in the 1970's) that features giant mutated ants attacking a boatload of prospective real estate buyers and a township of residents who become hypnotized by none other than the queen ant herself.
The high-light of "EMPIRE OF THE ANTS" are not the ants themselves, but Joan Collins and the notorious performance given by her in this hilarious movie where she successfully gives true meaning to the words, 'camp classic'. She portrays a sleazy real estate saleswoman who leads a group of misfits on a sale junket to a remote island that is unknowingly to her controlled by mutated ants that have been exposed to a drum of toxic waste.
Once the group reach the island, it doesn't take long before the cliche's kick in, such as the strange rustling in the bushes where a curious victim will investigate the noise, or the mysterious aspect of the missing 'helping hands' who have disappeared from the job. Furthermore, none of the film's characters have been developed so that you will sympathize or care for their outcome.
When the ants make their appearance, hilarity and laughter will ensue as you witness some unique special effects that will most certainly take their place in cinematic history. Of the ants that you get to see from far away, it is basically stock footage of ants within an 'ant farm' that has been spliced onto the film of the movie. Of the ants that you get to see close up, they are basically huge papier mache puppets that could be mistaken as extras from an episode of "DOCTOR WHO" that ensure nothing less than unintentional laughter.
Seeing victims meeting their demise, such as the old couple who take shelter inside a remote out-house, only to venture back outside to discover lots of giant ants swarming the place is nothing short of hysterical. Especially the looks on their faces as they witness the horror, I got the impression that the old man just wanted to say to his wife, "Oh... well hmmm... looks like this is it my dear!" My favorite 'death scene' was the woman in the green pants suit who just stood there as the ant with a hundred eyes inches towards her and she repeatedly screams, "MA-MA!" like some sort of big baby.
Seeing Joan Collins doing her best 'bitch' impression as she snaps catty one-liners and runs around screaming with her hands in the air as she sees footage of an ant standing completely still and doing nothing will make you laugh hysterically. The ending of the film that shows her demise is misunderstood. She doesn't actually get 'eaten' by the ants. From what I saw, she was dealt a few blows by the queen ant that thrashed at her a few times as it died, but it appeared to me that she died from nothing more than inhaling the 'smoke' or pheromes released by the queen ant and she suffered asphyxiation.
Furthermore, why would these ants actually eat people when they've gone to the trouble of hypnotizing a whole town just so they can get them to process a sugar refinery for them? The answer is really no big deal. No one watching this movie is actually looking for facts and truth. It's an hour and a half of non-stop hilarity and that is exactly what I got. Besides, "EMPIRE OF THE ANTS" is so notoriously bad, MGM (responsible for releasing the movie on DVD) even marketed this movie as being Joan Collins' career foible!
My Rating - 6 out of 10.
The cast takes it all seriously, as if this was going to be their Jaws. There's even some Jaws rip-off music. Joan Collins' theatrics are always worth watching. Robert Lansing does his best to rise above the material. Sexy Pamela Shoop goes braless through the whole movie. That may sound like a pretty weak contribution but one takes what one can get when watching a movie like this. The rest of the cast is made up of people you might recognize but likely won't remember their names. It's all very cheesy and tacky but also very watchable. I was never bored with it. But I am someone who can enjoy a good cheap B horror flick. Some of you might have less patience for those types of films. If nothing else, there is some nice Everglades scenery and all the footage of ants you could ever want to see. If either of those things appeals to you, this is your movie.
The movie is a pre-Star Wars movie, where bad special effects were still used. It's cheesy enough to be entertaining even now, because the special effects are so bad.
It's fun and it has it moments. Oh, and let's not forget Joan Collins!
Boy, does this gloriously ghastly low-budget atrocity possess all the right wrong stuff to qualify as a real four-star stinkeroonie: Ham-fisted (mis)direction by Bert I. Gordon, a laughably ludicrous premise that's played ridiculously straight, hilariously horrendous (far from) special effects, clumsily staged ant attack scenes, and even a heavy-handed pro-ecology message on the dangers of illegally dumped radioactive waste all ensure that this honey rates as a choice tasty slice of prime cinematic Velveeta. The able cast do their proverbial best with the absurd material: Robert Lansing as tough two-fisted boat captain Dan Stokely, John David Carson as dashing deadbeat Joe Morrison, Albert Salmi as the brainwashed Sheriff Art Kincade, Pamela Susan Shoop as the foxy Coreen Bradford, Jacqueline Scott as the poised Margaret Ellis, Robert Pine as sniveling coward Larry Graham, and Edward Power as the shifty Charlie Pearson. A total schlocky hoot and a half.