Moonlight Frights: Empire of the Ants
For the duration of March, Moonlight Frights will delve into the comically bad films that make the b movie genre what it is. I have seen a lot of bad films, more so modern films than classic films, but that’s another story for another day — this week, and month overall, will see us exploring the best of the worst. Starting off March is Empire of the Ants. Now, the title sounds iffy but this movie has actually become one of my favorites. Starring Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, and Tom Fadden in his last role, the loosely adapted version of H.G. Wells‘ 1905 story of the same name is a memorable entry for B horror films.
Our feature film starts off with a National Geographic-esque documentary detailing the lives and behavior of ants. The narrator then hints at pheromones being used to control ants, but goes on to mention that “humans shouldn’t worry.” Obviously the narrator has never been to a department store and hounded by employees to try their fragrances. It’s then seen that a group of men are throwing barrels containing radioactive waste into the ocean where one barrel washes onto the shore. The next shot sees the ants gathered on the nuclear waste. The true horror of this film — man’s destructive ways on nature. Too real? Sorry.
The next hour and a half is spent fawning over how conniving Marilyn Fryser (Collins) behaves in this potential
swamp beach side island resort. Normally I wouldn’t condone the land developer’s actions, but with the potential backers and people just looking, I’d con them, too. Aside from some throwaway names, the ants are pretty big stars. Their appearance when confronting the cast is amazingly bad, but seeing actual ants destroy and capsize a boat is hilarious. Some footage of the arthropods is poorly edited and timed, making this even more hilarious than it needs to be.
Say what you want about Empire of the Ants, I have. I genuinely love this film and have introduced it to friends who shared the same reaction as mine. Though not the greatest creature feature film from years past, the ants do leave an impressionable bite on you and you may even find yourself rooting for one of the world’s land-owning insects to conquer the world.