Them
BUGS. 2003
Director: Joseph Conti

THEM!. 1954
Director: Gordon Douglas

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



BugsComputer animated giant spiders, bugs, & scorpions, mismatched to a few sequences with insect puppets, have appeared mysteriously in the brand new subway system. They leave buckets & sleuces of cherry syrup in their wake.

Bugs (2003) was badly made-for-cable with a no-star cast. It rips off Them! (1954) & Mimic (1997) & even a bit of the whole Alien series. There is very little to set it apart beyond the lousy FX & silly acting & lack of any actual story.

Its "angle" is to have a noisy SWAT team go in commando-style to endlessly shoot heaps & piles of cartoon critters.

The primary appeal would therefore seem to be not so much for monster film fans as for whoever might like to watch, but never play, kill-stuff video games. For the rest of us, the bugs would've been more interesting as wind-up toy Godzillas, & the SWAT team might as well have been the Ho Hum Squad.



There exist of course giant bug movies up the wazoo & though the worst of them tend to be better than Bugs, it's an area where bad film making does predominate. Really no film has improved on the justly influential Them! from the atomic fear era.

ThemRadiation from A-bomb testing has birthed a race of humongous ants, nesting under Lost Angeles. The on-location shooting in the L.A. sewer system gives the film a high degree of atmospheric credibility, the sharp & shadowy b/w cinematography possessing a film noir character. Just about every film since that has used the L.A. sewers consciously pays homage to Them.

In its day Them was one of the most realistic creature features. After all these decades, the ants still seem rather better than modern CGI FX. It's a classic of its kind, unexpectedly well written & expertly directed & edited for maximum effectiveness.

With the right balance of Cold War paranoia & fretful expectation of atomic catastrophe that infused '50s American culture, the giant ants almost function as symbols of the world's real terrors of the time.

Equally with just the right degree of cinematic trickery & appeal to the imagination, the army rolling in to fight the ants in the sewers provides the illusion of sweeping events & large scale warfare, achieved with no budget to speak of.

The cast, headed up by James Whitmore as a police officer & James Arness as an FBI agent, are all well above average, effectively making it all seem tense or worrying even when the gigantic ants aren't on-screen.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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