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Article Archive >> Entertainment

Movies From the Black Lagoon: Ants

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Ants - 1977, Unrated
By Tom Doty

A posh lakeside resort may seem an unlikely spot for an invasion of the titular pests but that's just what happens when an army of picnic pests decides it's time for a little payback.
This TV effort employs a horde of B-List stars and Hollywood hopefuls as well as buckets of black ants to tell its tale. The action begins slowly, too be honest this thing moves more like a snail than a scurrying ant, as we meet the players.
-Ethel Adams (Hollywood legend Myrna Loy) owns Lakeside Manor and does not want to see it change hands as she nears retirement.
-Valerie (former "Mission Impossible" star Lynda Day George) is the daughter and she wants mom to sell so she can follow her boyfriend to San Francisco.
-Mike is the construction foreman boyfriend of Valerie. He is played by Robert Foxworth (dull as a slice of white bread slathered with mayonnaise) who would go on to be menaced by an acne ridden mutant grizzly bear in 'Prophecy.'
-Tony and Gloria are an oily businessman and his hot blonde assistant. Tony (Gerald Gordon) is seeking a shortcut to success while Gloria (a pre-'Three's Company' Suzanne Somers) is determined to prove her business acumen to Tony before giving in to his clumsy advances.
Various supporting characters include a hunky towel boy (Barry Van Dyke), the free spirited hippie he picks up, and Brian Dennehy as the fire chief (it's a role modeled after George Kennedy's various portrayals of gruff, safety conscious, professionals in just about every 70's disaster flick). The extras include about six billion scurrying bugs that probably were lucky to land a 'Burger King' commercial after this aired.
The ants are introduced early as they claim a pair of construction workers who are working on a lot adjacent to the Lakeside manor. They are rushed to the hospital and Mike proves pretty ineffective as a leader. He opts to have his assistant pass on the news to the families while he returns to the site and neglects telling the rest of his crew what happened. He does make time for his girl Valerie.
Valerie has her hands full with her stubborn mom who doesn't care to meet with prospective buyer Tony. Then a child is attacked by ants while dumpster diving behind the Manor's kitchen. The ants wisely bug out after the attack so everyone is stymied by the boy's condition. However they are nailed as the culprits by Mike who turns out to be pretty bright for a guy who dresses like he's auditioning for 'the Village People, I mean how many foreman rock a leather vest over a denim top.
The concluding half hour is hilarious. The Manor is evacuated which moves Ethel to sell it to Tony. Sadly Mr. Tony is a total wimp when it comes to ant armies. He leaps out of a high window as they attack but misses the swimming pool by about thirty feet. Meanwhile an ant specialist shows up and states that ants won't bite if you're sitting still. This leads to our icky climax in which characters sit still while ants crawl all over them. That's right folks this features one of those anti-endings in which people do nothing until the end credits roll. Fun but forgettable. However ant completists and fans of Ms. Somers are in for a treat. She's actually quite good here and even gets to die naked in an homage to Hitchcock's shower scene in 'Psycho." They may not pull it off but at least they tried.
Best Line: " Look beyond the bumps and you may notice there's a head up here."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.

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