As much as I love sci-fi movies, I have to admit that the 70’s were not a great time for the genre, or at least before George Lucas shook things up. The effects in a lot of these movies were just terrible. They could have a great story or idea to use for the movie and just kill it with lame effects. Today’s movie is no different as they took a story by H.G. Wells and pretty much ruined it with the effects. So allow me to present today’s movie, Empire Of The Ants.
The plot: A boat is shown dumping barrels of radioactive waste into the ocean, where they wash up onto shore and begin leaking onto some nearby ants. Sometime later, a land developer is running a scam by trying to sell some worthless land to a group of people. As the tour of the land progresses, the group is attacked by giant ants. Losing several members of the group, the survivors manage to make it up river to a nearby town. However, they soon find out that the townsfolk are actually working for the ants and using the nearby sugar mill to feed them. Surrounded by a brainwashed townspeople and at risk of becoming slaves themselves, the survivors must find a way to stop the ants before the rest of mankind is destroyed.
Ok. I know that they used similar techniques in the 50’s and 60’s but since it was new back then, they tended to do a better job with them. Rear projection was used in a lot of giant monster movies back in the day but in this movie it wasn’t used to the best of its ability. Due to the fact that they would use live ants shot in a set lined with photographs of the locations needed, there were times where the ants seemed to be crawling vertically or even walking in mid air. It looked so ridiculous that it was impossible to take the movie seriously.
Aside from the disaster with the rear projection effects, there were a couple of other things that made me dislike this movie. For one, the acting wasn’t that good. They did manage to get a big name star in Joan Collins but that didn’t really help the movie any. When they people were interacting with the ants via rear projection, it just looked really weird. When they had close up encounters, the used prop models which looked ok but the interactions were so faked (I know they are supposed to be acting but this was ridiculous.) Plus the ants would scream. No joke. One of the sound effects for the ants sounded like they were screaming. It would get on your nerves real quick.
So if you want to laugh at some lousy effects, then feel free to give this a try.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5