Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Empire of the Ants (1977)

Some movies just have it all. Take Empire of the Ants. It has laughably bad special effects. Some horrendous acting. An absurdly ridiculous plot. It has giant ants. And it has Joan Collins. Joan Collins in Rich Bitch mode, camping it up for all she’s worth. Truly, one cannot ask anything more of a movie.

Collins is a shady real estate developer, taking potential suckers on a tour of Dreamland Shores, a stretch of pestilential swamp that they’re told will soon be a wonderland of golf courses, restaurants, shopping centres and clubhouses. But there are even worse hazards than Joan Collins in of Dreamland Shores. A barrel of radioactive waste washed up on the beach a while back, and we all know what happens when ants start munching out on radioactive waste. That’s right boys and girls, they become giant killer ants with plans for world domination. When the boat that takes the potential buyers to Dreamland Shores gets taken out by the ants (in a deliriously bad “special effects” sequence) Joan and her potential dupes find themselves hunted by the ants and must take to the river to escape.

Of course the budget for Empire of the Ants didn’t stretch to even passably decent special effects, so mostly we just get footage of ordinary-size ants blown up to make them look really really big! By 1977 standards it’s fairly light on the gore, and that (along with the incredibly dated nature of the central premise) gives us more of the feel of a 50s drive-in movie than a 70s horror film. Robert Lansing is delightfully wooden as the brave and very macho boat skipper. just when you think it can’t get any sillier, in the last ten minutes it reaches heights of silliness you would never have believed possible.

This is bad movie heaven, a jaw-dropping camp classic. I loved every moment of it.

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