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Marabunta: Terror In Burline Pines (1998)

"Starring Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files, this nature-gone-wild thriller finds seismic activity in Alaska awakening a long-dormant, subterranean colony of South American marabunta killer ants! (In fact, the alternate title is "Legion of Fire: Killer Ants!" With exclamation point.) When the flesh-stripping horde sets out to dine on the local human population, it's up to a scrappy band of survivors to quash or squash the menace before it's too late.
Eric Lutes (TV's Caroline in the City) and Julia Campbell (Stephen King's "Rose Red") also star.
Premiered January 17, 2004 on the SciFi Channel

The Naked Jungle (1954)

Technically not sci-fi, Charlton Heston (of The Omega Man and Planet Of The Apes) and his wife (Eleanor Parker) have a nice plantation in the South American jungle when they find themselves surrounded by advancing red army ants. Produced by George Pal of The Time Machine fame, supporting cast includes William Conrad, who starred in an earlier network radio version. In that version, the ants eat an arm of a live man down to the bone as he's trying to turn a valve to flood the plantation, but I guess Hollywood thought that would be a bit too graphic for Heston and the audience. Back in the days of live radio, the story was broadcast at least four times, with and without William Conrad as the star: three times on "Escape" and at least once on "Suspense" (a popular 20-year CBS series started by Alfred Hitchcock, who later did his own nature-goes-berserk movie The Birds). Hitchcock started "Suspense" on the radio after Hollywood made him put a happy ending on the movie "Suspicion" (in which Cary Grant is a serial killer in the original script, but simply misunderstood in the final version).

Them! (1954)

In this first-rate drive-in movie, giant mutated ants are taking over the American Southwest, and the combined might of the U.S. military is powerless to stop them. Their ultimate weapon is to nuke the giant monsters, or will that just make it worse? The mutant ants end up in Los Angeles, spreading throughout the city using the sewer system. Stars James Arness (who you may remember as the giant carrot-shaped monster in the original version of The Thing), James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, Onslow Stevens. Fess Parker (TV's Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone) has a small part, and a young Leonard Nimoy can be seen briefly at a teletype machine. No, the mutant ants are not called "mants," you're thinking of the movie Matinee (as explained in that movie by scientist William Schallert). Of course if you prefer bees, check out Irwin Allen's The Swarm

H.G. Welles even wrote a novel in which army ants march north to take over Eurasia. Bert I. Gordon got the movie rights and came up with the mutant monster movie Empire Of The Ants

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Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved