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Them! (1954) - DVD Review

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Them - DVD Review


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4 stars

One of the most highly regarded science fiction films of the 1950s; this Gordon Douglass directed cautionary tale about a small township under siege by irradiated mutant ants has influenced countless filmmakers for generations. Remember the awesome egg frying scene in Aliens? Cameron was paying homage to this movie. Remember that actor with the pointy ears—one Leonard Nimoy? He’s in this flick, albeit briefly. Remember how much (justifiable) praise Spielberg got for Jaws for how much effective suspense he accomplished by not showing the shark too much? Them did it first.

Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1954: Policeman Ben Peterson (Ben Whitmore) finds an almost catatonic little girl wandering in the desert. As he investigates further, more townsfolk are missing, or murdered; property is destroyed; and strange unidentifiable sounds keep cropping up. Soon Peterson is drawn into a nightmare as the revelation of atomically created giant ants threatens to destroy everything and everyone.

To a modern audience, this is B-Movie material off the cuff. But dig deeper than the antiquated bombastic score, the technical capabilities of the time(Oscar nominated in the day), the black and white picture, and what you have is a sophisticated, fast paced, and, for its time, relevant social commentary. This was the era of the atom bomb, where ordinary folk built bomb shelters in the back yard, and the duck and cover drill was taught in schools.

Them plays on those fears to impressive results; introspective, with relatable characters, good dialogue, and deftly handled themes, the film explores man’s teetering on the brink of self-annihilation without being pious of heavy handed. At its core it represents the good we can accomplish just as much as it focuses on our shortcomings.

Whitmore is an effective every man; you probably know him best these days as the tragic old con from The Shawshank Redemption, but he had a long and eclectic career and only recently left us, in 2009, for that big silver screen in the sky. Little Sandy Descher also manages to steal one of the film’s most iconic scenes—the opening—and it was only her second movie. Them also had the distinction of having Gunsmoke’s Marshall Matt Dillon—James Arness—helping to save the day as FBI Agent Robert Graham.

In the 21st century one might understandably feel like they’ve just opened a time capsule and perused for a moment something that has nostalgic value only. Look a little longer, and you will see a film that has helped shape science fiction since its release. For the occasional movie watcher that might skip this one, I recommend giving it a try. It is a gem from an age now long gone. This reviewer is hoping for an extensive blu ray in the not too distant future.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Them - DVD ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
: Gordon Douglas
: Ted Sherdeman
James Whitmore; Edmund Gwenn; Joan Weldon; James Arness; Onslow Stevens
Genre: Horror | sci-fi | Classic
A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze! Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze!"
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date:
June 19, 1954
DVD Release Date:
January 11, 2011

Synopsis: The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Them - DVD Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

2 stars

Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

DVD Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 11, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
English, English HOH, German, German HOH, Spanish, Finnish, French, Icelandic, Swedish, Czech, Greek, Polish, Turkish, Dutch - subtitles for movie only.
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Blu-ray 3D

Supplemental Material:


  • None

Special Features:

  • Outtakes
  • Original Trailer
  • Photo Still Gallery

{2jtab: Trailer}


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