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Empire of the Ants

Empire of the Ants (1977), starring Joan Collins, Robert Lansing by Bert I. Gordon

Review of Empire of the Ants

In short, Empire of the Ants is one of those giant monster movies that are so bad that you sit and watch it with friends, mocking it as you do. It gives the word “cheesy” a bad name.

Empire of the Ants, starring Joan Collins, Robert Lansing by Bert I. Gordon

In Empire of the Ants, a sleazy real estate developer takes a boatload of potential suckers clients to look at swampland prime real estate. The people are (for the most part) slightly less sleazy that the developer … and then they meet giant ants, who murder several of the two-dimensional characters. Although I admit that I felt bad for the old couple …

Eventually, the survivors make their way to a small town, where they think they’ll be safe. It’s not as though the giant ants have been taking over the town with mind control or anything like that … or using a sugar refinery for the own appetites.

In short, it’s a cheesy movie, with only a few likable characters, and a few good actors. It’s enjoyable to watch on TV with friends to mock it, but I frankly wouldn’t pay to watch it.

Cast of characters

  • Marilyn Fryser (Joan Collins, Dynasty). Sleazy real estate agent, who leads the people to the island where she’s trying to sell them overpriced lots. She’s very good at being self-centered … and frankly, uninteresting.
  • Larry Graham (Robert Pine, Chips, Munster Go Home). Marilyn’s gigolo boyfriend, who abandons people to be eaten by ants multiple times. Only to be killed by them himself. Have I mentioned that most of these people aren’t very nice?
  • Dan Stokely (Robert Lansing, 4D Man, Star Trek). One of the better actors… and more interesting characters. The captain of the boat service that takes suckers to the island. And he clearly feels guilty about it. He quietly warns one of the would-be buyers from purchasing the swampland, and becomes the defacto leader of the group during their escape.
  • Joe Morrison (John David Carson, Space Ghost). The other likable character and decent actor. A younger man than the captain.
  • Sheriff Art Kincade (Albert Salmi, The Brothers Karamazov). The sheriff of the small town that the people escape to. A likable enough person … More so once he’s freed from the ants’ mental control.

Editorial review of Empire of the Ants courtesy of Amazon.com

Robert Lansing, as the captain of the boat that ferried the people to the ant-infested island, sets fire to it as the ants begin overriding
Robert Lansing, as the captain of the boat that ferried the people to the ant-infested island, sets fire to it as the ants begin overriding

Joan Collins stars in this hilarious giant bug epic. Producer-director Bert I. Gordon, the genius behind such stuff-grows-really-big films as The Amazing Colossal Man and Village of the Giants, brings us a cautionary tale of what can happen when pollution, real-estate scams, and social insects mix. Collins, an absolute portrait of the valiant trouper who keeps plugging away no matter how bad the script gets, stars as shady land developer Marilyn Fryer. Marilyn is by only a small margin the sleaziest of a band of characters so repellent it”s hard not to root for the ants (who, by the way, grow really big). A ludicrous plot and jaw-droppingly bad dialogue make Empire of the Ants ideal for late-night viewing. Watch it with your most vicious circle of friends. DVD version includes the original trailer and French and Spanish subtitles. -Ali Davis

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