January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

After a young girl is found wandering in the New Mexico desert, a chain of most unusual events unfolds. The girl is found to be the daughter of an FBI agent and when a store is found ravaged, the owner killed, and no cash has been taken, the time comes to call in the federal agents and get down to business. A trailer has also been found that was torn to pieces, as if something shredded it from the outside, while trying to get inside. Agent Bob Graham (James Arness) arrives and learns that in each case, some odd footprints were found on the scene, so a plaster cast is sent off to be analyzed. Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter Joanna (Joan Weldon) soon venture to the area, startled by the footprints they’ve seen, though Harold remains somewhat silent about his thoughts. However, the authorities soon discover that mutated ants are behind the crimes, ones that thanks to radiation waves, have grown to sizes of up to twelve feet in length. If the ants are allowed to remain alive, the world will run its course in less a year, but any force manage to stop the army of massive ants?

A landmark of sci/fi cinema, Them ushered in a wave of mutant monster movies, one which survives even to the present. Whenever people think of movies with massive insects, most think of poor special effects and a dull storyline, but Them has terrific production values and still stands as a well crafted picture. You have to have an interest in these kind of movies, but Them is one of the best of its kind and in truth, its appeal reaches beyond the usual demographics, I think. The main attraction lies with the ants themselves of course, which were made with great care and look excellent, simply amazing work all around. No, you won’t mistake the props for real ants, but the craftsmanship is superb and within the framework of the movie, the ants work to near perfection. The plot is a cut above the usual creature feature stuff, as are the performances, from such stars as James Arness, James Whitmore, and Joan Weldon. I consider Them to be a genre masterpiece and as such, give it a high recommendation to those interested, especially those into creature features, atomic scare flicks, and 50s B movies in general. Warner’s disc isn’t the grandiose edition I think Them deserves, but it is still well worth the cost to add to your collection.

Video: How does it look?

Them is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I had some reservations going into this release, but it seems as though Warner has invested some time & resources here, as Them looks terrific in this edition. The print has been restored and is very impressive, with minimal debris, grain, and other defects to report, while the image’s sharpness is also quite good, much better than you might expect. The contrast is in razor sharp form too, so the black & white visuals are never hindered, even for a second. I commend Warner for their work on Them and of course, hope to see this kind of attention on more 50s sci/fi soon.

Audio: How does it sound?

As a 50s B movie, we shouldn’t expect this film to have a dynamic audio presence, but the included mono option is still solid. Yes, some age related flaws can be picked out, but all things considered, I was pleased with how well the elements have held up. I did notice some distortion, but the music and sound effects come through well enough, for the age & nature of the materials involved, that is. The dialogue is excellent here however, with clean and crisp vocals at all times, very impressive indeed. This disc also includes subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a brief reel of behind the scenes footage, some talent files, a guide to other insect driven pictures, a selection of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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