I don’t know why there was such a resurgence of killer bug movies in the 70’s but my younger self certainly enjoyed watching them on the weekends. So continuing on with my reviews of some old TV movies I saw as a child, I came across this little gem; which once again showed me that my memory of events as a child was not always 100% accurate. Now I remember seeing this movie on TV one day when I was about 6-7 years old. and clearly recall the ants attacking people in the movie. However, there is one scene at the end of the movie that I honestly thought had occurred in a different movie, mainly one involving killer bees, not ants. My surprise at discovering my mistake didn’t really detract from my enjoying watching the movie so sit back and let me relive some nostalgia as I watch today’s movie, Ants.
The plot: As a construction crew is working next to Lakewood Manor, one of the workers is suddenly attacked by a swarm of ants while he was working in a covered ditch. Another worker hears him crying out for help and heads down to the ditch to help him, but they both end up being accidentally buried alive by a bulldozer. Meanwhile, Anthony Fleming, a real estate magnate, is heading to the manor with his partner/lover Gloria to try and buy the manor from Ethel Adams, the owner, and turn it into a casino. They arrive at the Manor, just as Mike Carr, the construction foreman, notices his missing workers and heads to the hotel to see if they are there. Inside the hotel, Valerie, Ethel’s daughter, apologizes to Fleming, as her grandmother is having second thoughts about selling, then she tells her frustrations to Mike, as they are dating. Mike leaves the hotel and after talking with his coworker Vince about the missing men, Mike decides to check the trench and notices a hardhat on the ground inside. Mike yells out for Vince to get help and the rest of the crew head over to help as they find and dig out the men. An ambulance is called to take the men to the hospital, where one died from asphyxiation and the other dies from some sort of toxic reaction. When Mike returns to the hotel, he looks around the ditch to see if he can figure out what happened to his men, just as Peggy Kenter, a Board of Health inspector, and her assistant White show up to find out what happened to the workers. Meanwhile, a boy that was collecting glass bottles to recycle had been attacked by some ants and goes screaming into the pool to attempt to get them off. Mike and Richard, a hotel employee, rushes into the pool to rescue the boy, who is taken to the hospital and dies from the same thing that killed Mike’s worker. As Mike continues to try and figure out what is going on, Vince is bitten by some ants and after Mike helps him, Vince finds that his leg has gone numb. Figuring that the ants are somehow responsible, Mike catches some in a jar to be tested, just as the manor’s cook dies in the kitchen. Peggy and White quarantine the kitchen and begin preparations to evacuate the manor’s guests, as White feels that this is the result of a virus and when Mike explains his theory to them, White scoffs at the notion that ants are the cause of it. As Mike gets pissed and storms off, Peggy takes the jar of ants to a friend of hers to ask if it is possible that they could be deadly, and her friend says it is possible due to all the toxins that have been put into the earth over the years. Back at the hotel, Mike has gotten into the bulldozer and begins digging up the ditch, and the drain pipe that leads into the hotel, causing the ant colony to begin swarming around the hotel. Mike, realizing what is happening, tells Vince to have the men dig a ditch around the hotel to contain the ants while he tries to make his way inside. At the hotel, several of the guest that had not evacuated have been killed by the ants, as well as White and Gloria, leaving Valerie, Ethel, Fleming, Richard, and his new girlfriend Linda left alive. Mike makes it inside and has everyone head upstairs to stall for time, as the ants are starting to swarm the downstairs. When the police and fire department show up, they use the engine’s ladder to try to rescue everyone in the hotel but are only able to get Linda out before the others are forced to move to the higher floors. A helicopter is brought in and they manage to load Ethel into the basket so she can be carried to safety but as the helicopter goes to leave, Richard ends up falling off the balcony and lands on a lower awning. Vince manages to rescue Richard, just as the helicopter begins to land nearby but the backwash from the helicopter’s props sends the nearby ants flying into the crowd of onlookers, forcing them to avoid using the helicopter for any more rescue attempts. The fire chief gets in touch with Mike to explain the situation, telling him that the Coast Guard is sending some special suits they can use to rescue them but they won’t be there for 30 minutes. Mike, Valerie, and Fleming try to barricade the room as best they can and as the ants start to seep through, and Peggy’s friend Tom tells them that they have to try and stay as still as possible, as the ants might not see them as threatening and attack them. Mike cuts some strips of wallpaper to use as breathing tubes, and has everyone sit down and stay calm, slowly using the tubes for when they need to take a breath. Mike and Valerie manage to stay calm and follow the plan but Fleming panics when the ants start crawling on him and he attempts to jump off the balcony into the pool below, but misses and falls onto the concrete. The suits finally arrive and Mike and Valerie are rescued from the ants and after reuniting with Ethel, Ethel tells them to go ahead and get married and not to worry about her, as she is going to move to Florida with her sister.
While this wasn’t a bad movie on the whole, it was quite a bit on the boring side. The acting was ok, with Robert Foxworth doing a good job in his role as Mike. The other actors were ok, though I was rather surprised by the amount of actors I was familiar with being in this movie, such as Suzanne Somers and Brian Dennehy. The plot was decent, if a little slow in building up to any real tension. The scene at the end with Mike, Valerie, and Fleming sitting in the room as the ants crawl all over them definitely provided the means to make ones skin crawl, especially when you had an ant crawling all around Valerie’s eye. The special effects weren’t much, as this was a made for TV movie, but they did a decent job showing the ants interacting with the people. All told, this isn’t the type of movie that would blow anyone away, but is worth a watch if you happen to come across it.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5