Empire of the Ants – USA, 1977

‘It’s no PICNIC!’

Empire of the Ants is a 1977 science fiction horror feature film produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon (Secrets of a Psychopath; The Food of the Gods; The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs. the Spider; et al), from a screenplay by Jack Turley, based on a screen story by Gordon, very loosely on the short story by H.G. Wells.

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The movie stars Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, John David Carson, Albert Salmi and Jaqueline Scott.

A heavenly paradise becomes a hellish nightmare when toxic dumping turns harmless ants into gigantic rampaging monster insects. Stumbling into their creepy lair, land developer Marilyn Fryser (Joan Collins) and her clients are horrified to realise the ants are devouring humans.

Fleeing for their lives, they discover the giant ants are determined to exterminate humankind and build an evil empire…

Reviews:

Empire of the Ants is just a big-bug movie from the 50′s made with modern cinema equipment and actors. The thread-worn plot is the same as almost any other cheesy flick from that era and brings nothing new to the table except for the whole ‘pheromone’ weirdness in the sugar refinery which is over before it ever gets a chance to begin.” The Monster Shack

“It was as if Gordon had forgotten the rudimentary rules of low-budget film-making that should have been imprinted on his brain since the 1950s. His “classic” creature features are much better than the ones he did twenty years later […] Most of the actors give the movie more than it deserves.” William Schoell, Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies, McFarland, 2008

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“The pace is good, apart from just one slow section in the middle, and the story is enjoyable in a 1950s-b-movie way. The music bears an uncanny resemblance to the Jaws theme. The special effects are, well, priceless. And the continuity is bizarre (clothes being wet/dry, buttoned/unbuttoned, the location of the sugar refinery).” Bad Film Friday

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“There are a few “so bad it’s good” moments, some of them involving half decent giant ant effects. But only a few. There is a single plot twist which the trailer gives away to anyone watching it before the film. A waste of time. For good giant ants, please watch Them! For good camp involving real ants, see Ants!” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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” …the human’s fright is seen as play acting, and the account of their progress over a gory trail is slow and repetitive. And, aside from some multifaceted ant’s-eye views of humans, the special effects are artificial and unexciting.” A.H. Weiler, The New York Times, June 30, 1977

Cast and characters:

  • Joan Collins … Marilyn Fryser –Tales from the Crypt; Dark Places
  • Robert Lansing … Dan Stokely – The Nest; 4D Man; Island Claws
  • John David Carson … Joe Morrison
  • Albert Salmi … Sheriff Art Kincade
  • Jacqueline Scott … Margaret Ellis
  • Pamela Shoop … Coreen Bradford
  • Robert Pine … Larry Graham
  • Edward Power …. Charlie Pearson
  • Brooke Palance … Christine Graham
  • Tom Fadden … Sam Russell
  • Irene Tedrow … Velma Thompson

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Categories: 1970s, adaptation of a novel, ecological horror, insect horror, nature-strikes-back

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