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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ants (1977) - horror ants

Ants (1977) - This made for Television movie was originally titled "It Happened at Lakewood Manor" which by the name would leave you unsure of what genre the film fit into. Is it a murder mystery, a coming of age story, no it is a sort of horror story about ants. At the old lakeside hotel there is a story line of the old handicapped owner and her daughter who are still pushing forward with their family business. But the old lady Ethel Adams (Myrna Loy) is thinking about selling the place. Her daughter Valerie ( The lovely Lynda Day George) and her boyfriend contractor Mike Carr (Robert Foxworth) think it may be best. Unfortunately for everyone Mike has a crew next to the hotel to do construction of some type and doesn't know it early in the film but he has disrupted a nest of very poisonous ants.
A couple of property investors Gloria Henderson (Suzanne Somers) and Tony Fleming (Gerald Gordon) are visiting and hoping to be able to make an offer on the place before they leave. When the trouble starts it starts slow but very soon everyone knows there is a pest problem and it can kill you. There is this really nice touch, something you get in a lot of 70's movies where social commentary is built into the script. In this one I liked the kid who is collecting bottles, and says to his Mother that they can use the money now that Dad is gone. Mom just reassures him they will be fine, with a "maybe" kind of look on her face. Certainly single parent households and divorce were being talked about a lot when this film was being made. I don't know if this was their case but maybe.
Then after the problem has been identified there is all this dialog about how we have been poisoning the earth and it was eventually going to come back and bite us in the ass. Not the Callipygian ass of sexy but whiny Linda Howard (Karen Lamm), the drifter who hooks up with lifeguard Richard (Barry Van Dyke, yes he is related, his son), but our fat of us chemical using fools. You see the Ants took the poison and made it their own and now can use it to attack. They would only attack though if disturbed, oh wait, Mike is digging up there nest doing his construction, oh and after he learns it is ants he goes nuts with a back hoe further riling up the little insects with the big sting. In fact this action created a giant crisis and soon most of them are trapped in the hotel with ants swarming everywhere.
The worlds dumbest fire dept can't seem to save them with a ladder, all you have to do is drive it up close to the house, but for some weird reason they leave the end of the ladder a few feet short. Panicked Linda jumps for it and is left dangling over the ants. Then the strangest decision I have seen the Fire chief make, instead of just reeling in the extend able ladder, grumpy chief Brian Dennehy watches as the just lift it higher and higher moving the petrified girl further from the ground. I was sure they were setting up a giant fall but no she and the ladder become vertical and she is saved.
Of course that is not the only error this bozo makes, calling in a helicopter to rescued the people trapped in the house blows ants all over the crowds of onlookers at the site. There is this surreal scene where Vince (Bernie Casey), the only black man in the film, turns a firehose on the crowd of white onlookers.
When we are close to the end and only three people remain in the hotel, Mike, Valerie and Tony they are told by the expert to stay perfectly still and the ants won't bite them. They do their meditation but Tony can't take it anymore and right before the guys come in in hasmat suits to rescue them he makes an ill fated dive from the third floor for the swimming pool below.
Fire pits are dug and set ablaze, the people get rescued one by one and in the end you wasted a good hour and a half on a slow made for tv 1970's era movie.
Rating (3.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!


  1. Thanks for this. I have been trying to remember the name. I was pretty sure it wasn't the same as Empire of the Ants. The swimming pool scene was the clincher. I remember that vividly. The movie terrified me as a kid. :)

  2. i remember it somewhat too! Where could i find it to watch it?