In a recent BBC article It’s been discovered that a our littlest friends under our feet, the Argentine ant, is actually part of a vast mega colony that has already colonized much of our planet. Scary? yes… and maybe the largest species that could even rival humans in their population scale but with less strip malls and urban sprawl. These ants were once only native to south America (hence the Brazilian waxed thoraxes) and now cover every continent by hitching a ride on our shoes…well everywhere except ANTartica. They figured with a name like that it was already spoken for. Faced with this news of impeding insect invasion, I just want to take this moment to welcome our benevolent insect overlords and offer my services in managing diabetic worker slaves in the vast sugar factories. Let’s just try to forget my younger years involving a magnifying glass on a sunny day or that ant farm I accidentally flooded with radiator fluid.

empire of the antsSpeaking of mutant ants taking over the world, “Empire of the Ants” leads us to believe that not only can radioactive waste cause insects to grow to the size of Volkswagons but they can also setup thriving sugar based economies, run factories, and managed cheap labor forces. All this in a single day.

Joan Collins takes a break from crappy TV shows to play a unscrupulous land developer, Marilyn Fryser. She’s trying to sell island real estate to clueless Floridians in leisure suits. Little do they know one of the island perks is scenic sunset views of radioactive barrels of toxic waste washing ashore right where the ants like to sunbath. The typical poorly sealed nuclear storage containers start leaking silver paint all over the ants and suddenly BAMMM! gigantus insectus among-us making picnic runs on Marilyn’s clients.

After discovering some dead construction workers covered in Smuckers raspberry jam the remaining customers decide to hightail it outta there as fast as their golf cart tour bus can carry them. Easily exceeding speeds of 10 mph they finally arrive back at the beach to find their tour boat getting antified. Dan, our grizzly faced boat captain swims out to try to save his precious scooner but the ants gives him the smack down. In a Gilligan-esque moment he decides to just to blow up the boat instead. The skipper would be proud. Now trapped on the island, rained on, hungry and without any extra eyeliner for Joan Collins they start to head towards the center of the island in hopes of rescue. The very old and very senile couple trailing the group decides it best to go off on their own hiding out in a dilapidated shack. Their last words would be “don’t worry we’ll be safe in here” proving again that old people are among the first to die in any b-movie.

Empire of the antsThe survivors battling their poor sense of direction take a old boat down the river and run into an ant made baricade and have to battle American Gladiator gauntlet style with giant foam ant heads. The cameraman appears to be in the thick of the action because heck if anyone can tell whose landing any punches with all those styrofoam legs flailing around. The boat sinks and they find a creepy old couple living in a barb wired cottage retreat who take them to town (this island must be huge!) They know something’s strange is happening in hicksville with not a Walmart or PigglyWiggly in sight and bets are someone’s been hoarding all the sugar packs too.

Their suspicions are confirmed when they find the towns folk being rounded up and taken to the gigantic sugar factory outside town which are apparently quite prevalent in the Florida everglades. Inside the factory, people are lining up like it’s a carnival ride to get sprayed with a cloud of ant pheromone from a queen ant crammed into a phone booth. This mind control spray makes the victim do whatever the queen asks of them plus it has the side benefit of the fresh scent of Lysol. It’s pretty much like if they went to a Pink Floyd laser show and got a contact buzz. Thankfully Dan fends of the ants and towns folk with a road flare and his extreme grizzliness then loads up the last of the survivors onto yet another boat ready to get lost again in the swamp. Hey the guy really likes boats can ya dig? I think the factory blew up too at some point but they ran out of budget…it’s mostly implied by a guy driving aimlessly around in a fuel tanker and then there’s a grease fire and some flaming ant footage.

I was surprised at the low level special effects this movie utilized for a 70’s monster film. I’d swear it was a 1950’s sci-fi movie if it wasn’t for the eye piercing leisure suits and feathered hairdos. Lots of split screens between the actors and ants, toy models with ants trying to climb the painted back drop, and styrofoam props make the effects on par with a Gamera film. The most redeeming quality of this movie is seeing Joan Collins impaled by a giant queen ant after getting her brain zapped. “That’s for making us endure Dallas..see ya in hell!”  “Empire of the Ants” is cheesy little b-flick that just goes to show you can make a movie without the need for acting, special effects or even a plot getting in the way.

-Extreme leisure-suits
-Nuclear waste in a can
-Joan Collins fu
-Fraudulent resort tours
-Paddle fu
-Ant smoke contact buzz
-Road flair phone booth attacks
-Giant styrofoam ants
-Exploding sugar shacks
-Kaleidoscope ant vision
-Redneck mind control

I give it a 7.3 out of 10..but that’s only because the ants are watching me… right now….listening to my thoughts.

Check out the trailer for Empire of the Ants