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Them!

Year: 1954
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Gordon Douglas
Cast: James Whitmore
One of the definitive atomic monster movies of the postwar B movie era, Them! has a great pedigree.

It also manages the fairly impressive trick of managing a slow build-up of tension much the same way Jaws accidentally did (and is more famous for) by not showing us the monsters for a good half hour but giving us tantalising glimpses of the destruction they threaten to wreak.

Sure the movie is let down by the special effects technology of the time - the climatic chase through the Los Angeles sewer system relies upon some very dodgy animatronic models that looks like cast offs from a DIY movie project. Like many movies from the era, the poster was a lot more lurid than the movie, but the spirit is there, and what Them! lacks in finesse it makes up for in effort.

The plot couldn't be simpler and has been aped a million times since - nuclear tests in the New Mexico desert cause common ants to mutate into giant monsters with a taste for human flesh to match their usual roving ways.

At their new size, the monstrous creatures have the potential to wipe the earth clean of humankind, and when evidence of several escaped queens from the nest arise, the race is on to find them and stop them before it's too late.

Cheesy acting, the token egghead, the poster image of the scantily clad dame being menaced by the beast that doesn't appear in the movie - all the iconic fixtures are clear and present.

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