EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977)
Article 2307 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-20-2007
Posting Date: 12-6-2007
Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Featuring Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, John David Carson
Several people take a tour of swamp land in the Everglades in the hopes of investing their money, but they only uncover horror when they encounter giant ants.
1977 was a significant year in the history of movies; it was the year STAR WARS changed the whole meaning of movie blockbusters, and the movie industry was changed by it, though not necessarily for the better in the opinions of many people. Somehow, though, I find it comforting that the same year that one came out, this one, an old-fashioned “giant monsters on the loose” flick from none other than Bert I. Gordon, also came out. It’s been quite a while since I covered one of his movies, and seeing his name again (and again and again) in the opening credits made me look forward to the movie a little. Unfortunately, it’s pretty awful, and not near as much fun as his earlier movies. The opening narration was fun in a goofy way, but once we reach the swampland, we get hung up in extended scenes of character development that you know full well will have no impact on the plot. The monster attacks are also annoying; once the people get close enough to the ants that they have to switch to the giant models, the camerawork gets so jerky (probably to cover up how bad the models are) that they’re nearly unwatchable. Furthermore, the movie is screechy; between the screaming women and the screaming ants you’re liable to get a headache. I do kind of like the bizarre twists toward the end of the movie, which seems to come out of nowhere until it finally hooks up to some information brought forward (and emphasized) in the prologue. Still, the best thing about this movie to my mind may be something that only exists in my imagination. To me, the final freeze frame of the movie looks for all the world like a huge question mark, the type that you put after the phrase “THE END” (which, incidentally, does not appear) to indicate that the horror is going to continue. If the last bit was intentional, it was pretty clever. Still, I’m not sure it’s worth going through the whole movie just to see it.