Ants! (1977)

ants poster 1977 movie it happened at lakewood manor
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Kid falling in the dumpster was pretty scary as a kid, simple horror

Cheesy story, goofy looking

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Ants!

Studio:  ABC

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  December 2, 1977

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

ants it happened at lakewood manor moosie drier kid killed dumpster

That is the last time I go dumpster diving…

A resort called Lakewood Manor is going through renovations as its owner Ethel Adams (Myrna Loy) and her daughter Valerie (Linda Day George) try to sell it to a developer Anthony Fleming (Gerald Gordon) and his assistant Gloria (Suzanne Somers).  Unfortunately Mike Carr (Robert Foxworth) and his construction crew have unearthed a colony of toxic killer ants that have begun to take over Lakewood Manor…the bites can paralyze and then they kill.

Directed by Robert Scheerer, Ants! is an eco-horror movie.  The film was originally released as It Happened at Lakewood Manor or sometimes also called Panic at Lakewood Manor. The movie was a made-for-TV movie and originally aired on ABC on December 2, 1977.

I saw this TV movie as a kid (not on the first run…I think it was called Ants! when I saw it), and it scared me to death. The scene where the kid fell into the dumpster and rose up covered in ants particularly hit me hard…kids aren’t supposed to die (I always figured he did die, but noticed on this viewing that the people say he is “recovering” in the hospital).  I later sat on a stump and had ants start biting me which terrified me so in that aspect the film must have worked on some level.

ants it happened at lakewood manor suzanne somers killed

They knocked on the door…I was waiting for them!

The story blends the eco-horror of an environmental movie with a classic “animal attacks“ movie.  Greed and capitalism leads to death.  Despite some decent build up to ant attacks, the movie is rather goofy. The whole premise is that the insects have become toxic due to pesticides, waste, etc., and these deadly ants are coming after the people when they are upset.  Yes, ants do this, and yes, ants have barbs that can hold on tight.  There probably would be some early deaths, but once the ants were contained to the “manor”, a high pressure hose could have done some serious damage to most of the ants…or the people could have just stood in a running shower waiting for help.

The visuals are also rather ho-hum.  Close-ups of ants and then far away shots of streams of “ants“ dominate the special effects of the film.  An ant-wrangle was involved for many of the close ant shots and they are sometimes effective, because a swarm of ants crawling on a foot is cringeworthy.  I do rather like when the helicopter blows ants all over the spectators (where apparently a high pressure hose is ok).

ants it happened at lakewood manor gerald gordon lynda day george robert foxworth

This hotel has really weird activities for guests

With the average visuals comes average made-for-TV acting, but the cast is rather decent.  You have a solid mix of old Hollywood like Myrna Loy and young and up and coming Hollywood like Suzanne Somers who was at the start of her Three’s Company run.  I just wish that the characters used a bit more logic.

Ants! (as I like to call it and which it is commonly known now) is a non-threatening horror film for younger audiences (eight or nine to thirteen probably). I saw it a bit too young and was freaked out by it, but I think if you saw it too much later, you’d maybe find it laughable.  It might be too dated looking for kids and not horrifying enough when you consider things like The Ring are PG-13.  Watching it now, I still get a little spooked, and though it is stupid with a silly premise I can still enjoy it for its ’70s TV feel.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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