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Ants (1977)

DVD Cover (Direct Source)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Natural Horror, Insects
Director:
Robert Scheerer Robert Scheerer
Starring:
Robert Foxworth Robert Foxworth
Lynda Day George Lynda Day George
Gerald Gordon Gerald Gordon
Bernie Casey Bernie Casey
Barry Van Dyke Barry Van Dyke

5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: November 03, 2006
Back in the mid-seventies, Steven Spielberg directed a little movie - you may have heard of it - called Jaws. It opened to a good deal of success, and as a result, the market was flooded with similar "animals gone wild" movies for years to come. Of course, they couldn't all feature a killer shark on the poster, so we wound up with movies starring killer whales, piranha, bears, alligators, and even snakes. Then, when movie-makers ran out of animals that were semi-believable with the word "killer" in front of their names, they resorted to things like dogs, cats, bees, and yes, even birds. Finally, they started scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas, and we wound up with a fair number of movies like Ants.

Ethel (Myrna Loy) and her daughter Valerie Adams (Lynda Day George) run a small lakeside motel that has been in the family for almost a century, but due to Ethel's age, Valerie is wanting to sell the property. The fact that she's wanting to run off to California with her construction worker boyfriend Mike (Robert Foxworth) has no bearing on her decision to sell, of course, and this brings us to Tony Fleming (Gerald Gordon) and his, ahem, "business" partner Gloria (Suzanne Somers). They want to buy the property and turn it into a casino hotel, and it's up to Valerie to convince mother dearest that this is a wise choice.

Meanwhile, Mike is part of a construction outfit that just so happens to be digging holes and doing the typical construction worker deal just across from this hotel. After digging one particular hole, they disturb a nest of ants. Now, these aren't your typical picnic-ruining ants; no, these are highly-toxic ants (thanks to adapting to insecticides and such), and it only takes a few bites from them to send a man to his grave. Oh yeah: did I mention that this nest of pissed-off killer ants is just a small distance away from this hotel which is chock full of summer visitors?

Alright, I could see the threat posed by a swarm of killer ants if they were fifty-feet tall like in a certain fifties film by the name of Them!, or if they could suck people underground like they did in some other b-movie whose title I can't quite recall at the moment. However, I just couldn't see too much of a threat in the little pissants found here. How difficult is it to escape insects that are smaller than your fingernail? Sure, there's millions of them, but I'd imagine that you'd be fine by simply putting on a pair of shoes and walking out the front door. I realize that you have to set logic aside in most horror films, but this one simply asked for too much from the audience.

Perhaps I could have overlooked that if this movie had something else going on for it. Let's see: the acting is atrocious, but did you expect anything less from a movie where Suzanne Somers gets the leading role? I enjoyed her "dumb blonde" routine on Three's Company, but in a serious role - forget about it. I have to admit that Robert Foxworth was decent enough, but one barely-acceptable performance from a cast of five main characters just didn't cut it with yours truly.

So then, we have a horrible cast going through the motions in a storyline that turns out to be even worse. At least we've got some nice death scenes to look forward to, right? Well, that would be correct if your idea of a vicious slaughter is watching various cast members lay on the floor with ants crawling on their skin (most of which, by the way, looked to be either painted on or dead). I suppose that I shouldn't have expected a gorefest from a film dealing with killer ants, but is it too much to ask for when everything else is as horrible as it is in this one?

Put this film up at the top of your "to avoid" list and thank me later. The seventies and early-eighties churned out some decent films in the natural horror genre after Jaws tore up the box office, but this is not one of them. 2/10.
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