Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Classic 1954 horror/sci-fi movie. A little girl is found wandering in the New Mexican desert, the only survivor of an unknown calamity that befell her vacationing family. When roused from her catatonia, she can only scream "Theeeeem!" Official investigation finally leads to the discovery that the culprits are Cadillac-sized ants, mutated by atomic radiation. The race is then on to locate and destroy the ants' nest before new queens hatch out and fly across the world.

Made a ton of money for Warner Brothers, and so helped establish many of the giant-monster-running-amok cliches for American cinema. Sadly, the vast majority of its imitators lacked the budget and the writing and acting talent on display here.

Not to be confused with the 2006 French horror film Them.

Referenced in the video game Fallout 3, which has a quest called 'Those!' featuring giant fire-breathing ants. Cinemaware's 1989 game It Came From The Desert is an open homage to this film. It also appears in Zombies Ate My Neighbors as a Demonic Spider. Also, the climax of the movie, including the rescue of the two children, is referenced in a Mark Hunt in Final Fantasy XII.

Tropes used in Them! include:

"And there shall be destruction and darkness come over creation
"And the Beasts shall reign over the earth."

  • Hot Scientist - Joan Weldon as Pat Medford.
  • I Love Nuclear Power
  • Immune to Bullets - Unless you aim at the antennae, effectively blinding the ants.
    • Actually, it's subverted; the ants are tough but can be taken down with enough machine-gun bullets. The trouble is there are so many of them...
  • Infant Immortality -Though this is still a pretty grim dark movie, mostly played straight, but averted for one subtle instance offscreen before the start of the film; see Fridge tab...
  • Kill It with Fire - This film had flamethrower-toting heroes stalking monsters through dark tunnels decades before Alien.
  • Noisy Nature - The ants display good lung-power.
  • One-Scene Wonder - Fess Parker as the pilot-witness; landed him his role as Davey Crockett.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - Every layer of government behaves as rationally as it can, under the circumstances.
  • Screaming Woman - Used effectively (e.g. with restraint) for once. Pat Metford screams the first time she (and the audience) catch sight of a giant killer ant at close quarters, but is calm and professional the rest of the movie. And of course there's the catatonic girl who suddenly breaks into a Title Drop when she smells a vial of formic acid.
  • Splash of Color: The entire movie is gray scale with the exception of the title at the start.
  • Square-Cube Law - Obviously ignored, but let's face it - you couldn't have the movie if you didn't.
  • Stay in the Kitchen - Impressively averted, considering the era it was made. The military gasses the nest of giant killer ants, and the next stage is for someone to go down into the nest and confirm they're all dead. This is universally recognized as a very bad idea, yet Hot Scientist Dr. Pat Medford argues firmly and convincingly that she has to go down into the nest as her father is too old and she can't give the two male leads "a crash course in entomology".
  • Stock Scream - Several uses of the Wilhelm Scream. (Although this was long before it became an example of this trope.)
  • The End - or Is It? - The ants are all wiped out, but Dr. Medford Sr. issues a grim warning; the atomic genie is out the bottle...
  • Title Drop