|The title appeared in color, though|
the film was shot in B&W.
|The young survivor of the first attack.|
|The first we see a giant ant|
is during a sandstorm.
Yet, its very success is what makes Them! slightly disappointing on second and later viewings. Certainly, it ranks above all but a handful of science fiction films produced during the 1950s; it's a unqualified genre classic. However, stripped of its novelty "mystery approach" and big pay-off scenes, it lacks a potent theme that resonates in the same way as truly timeless genre films like The Day the Earth the Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and even The Incredible Shrinking Man.
One could argue that Them! is the definitive example of the "nuclear power-caused mutant creature subgenre." Still, that's nothing new thematically. Man invented nuclear power, so we're back to the old sci fi staple of man messing around in areas he shouldn't and inadvertently creating monsters. This is a theme at least as old as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and featured in earlier sci fi films such as The Invisible Ray (1936). What Them! brings to it is a dark sense of humor, in that through man's intervention, the tiniest of creatures threatens to wipe out all of mankind.
|Whitmore opens fire as Gwenn's|
scientist observes the giant ant.
Even if its potency fades during repeated viewings, Them! has earned its status as a genre classic. Its "mystery approach" alone makes it a unique sci fi film. There can also be no doubt that it was an influential film, inspiring 1950s imitators such as Beginning of the End (giant grasshoppers), Tarantula, Earth vs. the Spider, and The Deadly Mantis (as in big preying mantis).