aka: It Happened at Lakewood Manor
Director: Robert Scheerer
Starring: Robert Foxworth, Lynda Day George, Gerald Gordon, Bernie Casey, Barry Van Dyke
Toxic ants strikes back at mankind in this made for TV horror movie from 1977!
Ethel Adams runs a small holiday spot on Lakewood Manor which her daughter Valerie wants her to sell. The shady businessman Tony and his partner (in more ways than one) Gloria, played by the lovely Suzanne Somers, is eager to buy the Adams out and turn the quiet little place into a casino for tourists. Meanwhile the construction worker Mike, Valerie’s boyfriend, and his team is doing construction work nearby the hotel. The construction team accidentally digs up a nest of killer ants who starts to run rampage on the peaceful tourists.
Ants is filled with experienced actors and even an experienced director. Yet, all the characters are very bland and boring, except the beard on Robert Foxworth which really is a treat and a highlight of the movie. With so much experience behind and in front of the camera, you would think the cast and crew would be able to make the character have more life, but I guess they did this one for a quick paycheck. I guess it’s hard to be serious when you give stupid lines like: “WE HAVE TO CONTAIN THESE ANTS”…
The biggest challenge when the threat is itty bitty bugs is making the movie suspenseful. It’s hard to take the movie very seriously when at a lot of time the characters could simply just run a few yards away to survive. Most of them do have shoes on after all. There are also scenes where a character has their legs covered with ants in one shot and when they cut to the upper body for a reaction shot then there is not one single ant to be seen.
The most hilarious scene in the movie is when they try to rescue the people from the hotel with a fire truck ladder, the first girl doesn’t get on it correctly and is left hanging from it. So what do they do? Lift the ladder upwards of course so if she would fall the fall would be higher? The way they fight off these millions of killer ants is by making a fire round the hotel (I would assume that the ants could simply dig down in the dirt however and get wherever they wanted).
There is a helicopter rescue which only cause the ants to be spread on to the bystanders when the helicopter lands on the ground again. If there is a horde of killer ants on the loose, why would you want to stand by and watch the action anyway? It ain’t like ALL of the millions of ants would just be in the exact same spot. Now, silly things are a part of horror movies though, but they are only forgiven if the movie has other things to offer. Ants sadly doesn’t have much good going for it, the only part about it that I give credits for is again the beard of Foxworth. The movie gets an ok score simply because it’s freaking ants and they are creepy!
There is a, not very subtle, stay green message in this movie. The start of it has the construction team destroying the nest and home of the ants where at the end the ants have taken over the motel where the tourist lived. Also the bite of the ants have become toxic after they have adapted to all the insecticides that the have been spread upon their soil over several years. It was a nice little addition to the movie and is right on the money since we humans do a lot of damage on our land and it’s probably only a matter of time before nature strikes back. Hopefully it won’t be ants though.
If you do wish to see a good ants movie from the 1970’s then seek out Phase IV instead.