Mar 5, 2009


aka "It Happened at Lakewood Manor" (1977)

I love, love, love animal revenge trash. Especially when it's made-for-TV fodder that isn't constricted by television actors or cameos or ridiculous inserts of scenes brandishing exclusive footage of ants conspiring out of a kitchen sink. Wait, all these tags fit Ants! perfectly and oh, what a marvelous television film this is. Rather than being dreary, serious, and heavy headed, Ants! takes scenes of actual bodily invasion of tiny insects and makes it somewhat unnerving. Pay mind to the subtle foreign eroticism of the PolyGram video art. Only attacking ants on a screaming girl could bring out the curvaceous assets of this 70s whore.

Ants! starts off suddenly with the horrors of construction and the destruction of a natural environment. Granted, every bit of land is as much a habitat to them as it is to us and critters do invade our home unprovoked so survival of the fittest does exclusively fit here. But only this time they haven't disturbed any innocent thing, they've unleashed a nest of vehement ants that have adopted our insecticides and use it against us in the form of venomous bites. As soon as these scenes of environmental disaster end, another begins of lame character development in which a hippie chick bags a lifeguard by less-than-suave moves that put most pre-pubescent teens to shame. A greedy casino promoter soon plans to purchase the nearby hotel for demolition unbeknownst to the mild-mannered owner.

The plot is especially water-thin at birth and only gets diluted more with drab stories of two star-crossed lovers that seek parental blessing. This being said, Lynda Day George plays the heroine and becomes a hindrance at the end. She's told not to move. "Just stay still" they said. "No." she said. This goes back and forth as she twitches with an accelerative fervor that will infuriate the saint in us all. Ants! is a conscientious animal attack! film with scenes that feature creepy crawling spirals of poisonous ants. The deaths aren't glorified or icky, they're simply nerve endings being incapacitated along with screaming. Although, it is a shame to see a young Suzanne Somers die slowly by ant bites.

Several scenes allow for a spontaneous influx of entertainment including one that borders irony. In a jab at voyeurism, an onlooking crowd has lethal ants blown all over them thanks to the rescue helicopter above them. As you watch suburbanite after suburbanite screaming, scratching at their flesh to remove the ants, you feel a sort of sadistic satisfaction as if you just quenched an unknown thirst. Only to accompany these fierce attacks is a trippy retro score. Ants! is definitely choice of the litter on terms of cheesy B-fare TNT-style nature attack films.

The scenes of ravaging ants is a fun endeavor to be a part of and I find this to be a more believable although embarrassing portion of creature insanity. The ending is played out perfectly as the survivors run up floor by floor to escape the wave of creatures. The final solution also brings similar thoughts akin to Tommy Lee Jones' Volcano, which is good for some surefire laughs. Ants! is a film that can get under your skin in the right mood. Seeing appendages covered entirely in ants even leaves me feeling unsettled. This isn't the greatest I've seen but a surprise appearance from Brian Dennehy made me rather ecstatic. Of course, such trash could only come from the mind that brought us Jaws 3-D.


1 comment:

Keith said...

Great write-up. I liked this movie. Not the best thing ever, but it was still an enjoyable watch. I always liked movies about creatures of the animal kingdom that come after us humans. They really made a lot of them back in the day.