Movie Name: Empire of the Ants
Studio: Cinema 77
MPAA Rating: Movie Rating
A toxic chemical spill creates giant ants…and the ants are organized and mobilizing. When a real estate tour group led by Marilyn Fryser (Joan Collins) becomes trapped by the ants, escaping the island may be impossible…as the group is forced upstream by the ants, they might learn the truth about the ants’ plans.
Directed by Bert I. Gordon, Empire of the Ants adapts the 1905 short story by H.G. Wells (but bears little resemblance to it). The movie received poor reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.
I’m a big fan of animal attack movies…add giant animals attacking and you have even more fun. Empire of the Ants is a bad horror film, but it is so-bad-it-is-good.
The plot for the movie follows the plotlines of a lot of typical horror animal horror films. First the cast is isolated and then the cast battles the elements and the giant ants that seem bent on killing them. The characters are all stock characters and a mix of likable and unlikable characters. Joan Collins eats up her scenes as the real estate agent essentially fleecing the people with her fake resort. This is a pretty typical film for…for half.
The second half of the film does change-up things and get a bit strange. The story turns into a riff on Invasion of the Body Snatcher or Invaders from Mars with the ants controlling people and using them to take over a town. The movie ends a bit less ominous than some of these “vs. nature” films which generally has nature winning…you get the impression here that the peole escape and maybe all the ants are dead.
The special effects are pretty much superimposed ants crawling on stuff mixed with giant models of ants and intentionally shaky camera work. The “ant-attacks” in the first half of the story are kind of hard to follow since the camera swings around so much, but some of the scale model stuff is fun (in a goofy way).
Empire of the Ants is a short movie, and you can see why it is a bit of a cult following. It is pretty over the top and kitchy. It reminds me a lot of Frogs (another great bad movie in the same vein) and can be watched over and over again…though I wish it kicked off the action and horror a bit quicker and let the ants have their empire!
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