McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Brad Pitt Says He's 'Angry' at the Finance Industry Aft...
Adele Speaks Exclusively on New Music:'The Most Poignan...
'The Walking Dead' reveals Glenn's fate ...
Adele Performs on Saturday Night Live: Video ...
Blacklisted: The Inside Story of Dalton Trumbo and the ...
Ryan Seacrest Confirms All American Idol Judges Will Re...
Fargo' Preview: 5 Reasons You Should Be Watching This S...
Bruce Willis makes Broadway debut...
Entertainment industry modifies plans after Paris trage...
Anne Frank's Diary Gains 'Co-Author' in Copyright Move ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

MGM Studios DVD presents
Empire of the Ants (1977)

"This has turned out to be one hell of a free vacation."
- Joe Morrison (John David Carson)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 07, 2001

Stars: Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, John David Carson
Other Stars: Robert Pine, Edward Power, Albert Salmi, Jacqueline Scott, Pamela Shoop, Brooke Palance, Harry Holcombe
Director: Bert I. Gordon

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for (language, violence, gore, attempted sexual assault)
Run Time: 01h:29m:53s
Release Date: November 20, 2001
UPC: 027616868404
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+CB- D

DVD Review

H.G. Wells' short story Empire of the Ants (1905) was made into an okay little thriller starring Charlton Heston, entitled Naked Jungle. Having made a pile of money with The Food of the Gods the prior year, AIP and director Bert I. Gordon decided to see what they could do with the story, but they retained about as much of Wells as one might expect from AIP and Bert I. Gordon, which is to say, nothing beyond the title.

The always delightful überbitch Joan Collins stars as Florida real estate developer Marilyn Fryser, who hauls unsuspecting dupes out to her swampland project, Dreamland Shores. Assisted by Charlie Pearson (Edward Power) and boat captain Dan Stokely (Robert Lansing), she takes a group of prospects to scam them. Unfortunately, barrels of radioactive waste (helpfully labelled 'Radioactive Waste') have washed up on the shore and the local ants have gotten into it. Being that this is a picture by Bert I. Gordon (The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast), this results in colossal ants. They are of course voracious and driven and immediately begin picking off the visitors after Captain Dan stupidly burns their boat to escape the ants. Mayhem and gore follow.

There are plenty of holes in the story here that make one want to slap the hysterical participants. Even though they recognize almost immediately that the giant ants don't like fire, the characters make no attempt to shelter their fire from a sudden rainstorm, and after the storm they make no effort whatsoever to build another fire. Of course, people huddled around a fire waiting for help would not make for a very interesting movie, so the characters thus are required to be aggressively stupid. On the positive side, after a pedestrian first hour, the movie suddenly takes a 90-degree turn in the last half hour that actually has some merit (spoiled completely in the trailer included on the disc). I won't say anything more about it, but the picture does in fact get better as one follows along, turning into a truly paranoid and creepy little fantasy.

Collins pretty much plays her usual character here, but it's a fun one and the viewer constantly roots for the ants to give her a well-deserved death. The visitors are almost all unlikeable as well; Margaret Ellis (Jacqueline Scott), the ostensible heroine, is a liar and a fraud, as is supposed hero Joe Morrison (John David Carson). Nearly all the rest are freeloaders after the boat ride and meals. Pamela Shoop's character implausibly becomes romantically interested in Joe after he attempts to rape her. Lansing is slightly interesting as the reluctant participant in the Dreamlands real estate scam. But by and large one doesn't much care whether these characters get devoured by the ants.

As in any Gordon movie, the effects range from mediocre to abominable. Whenever the ants and humans interact (which is seldom), the practical ant puppets are barely seen; the handheld camera swings wildly, apparently in an attempt to hide just how bad the puppets are. Otherwise, there's a fair amount of iffy back projection and some very poor miniatures work. The end result is laughable much of the time and only passable the rest. On the positive side, anyone with a fascination for leisure suits and other fashion abominations of the 1970s will find much to enjoy here.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image is plagued by softness and lacking in detail, as if it were a laserdisc master. Colors are good but blacks lack impact, leaning only toward a medium gray. There are spots, specks and hairs present throughout. Bitrates are surprisingly high, causing me to suspect that the problems here are the result of using a poor master. It's a passable transfer but certainly nothing to write home about.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is surprisingly decent. Hiss and noise are at low levels. Although bass extension is quite lacking, the higher registers come through faithfully. In particular, the piercing chirp of the ants is almost headsplitting. The sound is dated but as good as this movie requires.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extra is an anamorphic widescren trailer that is full of spoilers, ruining the only good parts of the movie. I therefore advise that viewers stay away. Chaptering is adequate. Although MGM announced many months ago that they would begin including English subtitles on all discs, there is none to be found here.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

An halting sci-fi effort implausibly trading on Wells' name, the effects and the characters are pretty unlikeable. The last half-hour does have some merit, however, and sci-fi fans might be interested in giving this a rental.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


movie, the big short, steve carell, ryan gosling, christian bale, michael lewis, brad pitt, music, adele, hello, 19, 21, 25, television, the walking dead, amc, davod alpert, glen, heads up, saturday night live, 25 album, skyfall, nrj awards, graham norton, herbert biberman, john howard lawson, lester cole, ring lardner jr., samuel ornitz, adrian scott, albert maltz, alvah bessie, edward dmytryk, dalton trumbo, reality, american idol, ryan seacrest, mariah carey, nicki minaj, ellen degeneres, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., keith urban, simon cowell, paula abdul, randy jackson, steven tyler, kara dioguardi, televison, fargo, fx, kirsten dunst, jesse plemons, jean smart, jeffrey donovan, bokeem woodbine, brad garrett, patrick wilson, celebrity, bruce willis, laurie metcalf, misery, broadway debut, paris tragedy, u2, foo fighters, steven spielberg, natalie portman, book, the diary of anne frank, otto frank, swiss foundation, daytime talk, 2000 shows, justin timberlake, jennifer aniston, sequel, animated, finding nemo, finding dory, disney-pixar, diane keaton, eugene levy, inventor, hedy lamarr, google doodle, ecstasy, samson and delilah, bbc music, angelina jolie pitt, by the sea, troubled marriage, mr. & mrs. smith, gwen stefani blake shelton, country music awards, the voice, miranda lambert, jon stewart, john oliver, hbo, wonder woman, nicole kidman, amazonian warrior, gal gadot, chris pine, nick lachey, 98 degrees, pot grower, ohio, nanette lepore, oscar robertson, frostee rucker, the red bulletin, james bond, daniel craig, naomi harris, bond girl, a. o. scott, 1977, star wars, elvis, beatles, sesame street, j.k. rowling, israel, palestine, culture for coexistence, harry potter and the deathly hallows, ricky gergais, 2016 golden globes, hollywood foreign press association, jessica biel, 2015 fashion group international night of stars gala, flip phone, the power of love, huey lewis, michael j. fox, back to the future, carrie, bipolar disorder, quinn, saul, jonas, comedy, selena gomez, lupus, chemotherapy, estrogen, lupus foundation of america, dancing with the stars, maksim chmerkovskiy, carrie ann inaba, bruno tonioli, julianne hough

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store