Radioactive waste is dumped into the ocean. One of the barrels ends up washed ashore on a tropical island and begins to leak. A silvery substance begins to ooze from the barrel. The local ants like the taste and soon become giant vicious killers.
Marilyn Fryser (Joan Collins) is a land developer with questionable ethics. Currently, unaware of the poisonous waste, she is selling property on the island. The undeveloped development is called Dreamland Shores. Marilyn hires Dan Stokely (Robert Lansing) and his boat to take a bunch of prospective clients to view the island and the layout of what she says will eventually be built. Assisting her is Charlie Pearson (Edward Power). Marilyn and Charlie wine and dine everyone picnic style as they try to sell people on the idea that they are buying into a luxury getaway.
It’s not long before giant ants start killing the prospective buyers. Dan’s boat gets destroyed. Everyone is now cut off from the mainland. After passing a restless night huddled next to a fire the small band of humans try to come up with a plan to save themselves. A rainstorm starts and the ants begin herding everyone inland. Eventually whoever is left ends up in a small island town. At first the group believes they may have found salvation but the town isn’t as safe as the refugees think.
“Empire of the Ants” was released in 1977 and was directed by Bert I Gordon. It is an American science fiction horror movie and was loosely based on the 1905 story by H. G. Wells. It is the last of three movies that producer AIP did on stories by Wells. The other two films were “The Food of the Gods” 1976 and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” 1977.
The first half hour or so is character development. Not that these people have a lot of character. Most of them are whiney and selfish but you do get a sense of the decent people vs the bad people. Not that that matters since most of them die. At least you know when to cheer when someone becomes ant chow. It’s not a great movie by any means but it is a fun campy guilty pleasure. If you like giant monsters there are an amazingly creepy amount of them.
Thanks to Bert Gordon, the king of supersized monsters, the film is a color version of his many forced prospective and back screen wonders. The special effects Bert uses are similar to what he did for “Beginning of the End” 1957. Yes, Bert hadn’t changed his way of movie making for twenty years. He also had the same problems he had twenty years previously when his giant mutants decided to go off script and walk off of whatever they were supposed to be climbing and wander off into the sky. Even so, with close-ups of swarming ants on screen the effect is still enough to make one squeamish.
Joan Collins received a nomination for Best Actress at the 5th annual Saturn Awards. Robert Pine, who plays womanizer Larry Graham, is Chris Pine’s father.