EMPIRE OF THE ANTS
During the 1970s, Bert I. Gordon took H.G. Wellss name in vain for both The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants, films whose finished product had no resemblance to the science-fiction grandmaster other than the theft of the titles. The sad truth about Bert I. Gordon and the reason why Empire of the Ants and in particular The Food of the Gods are recognised as among the worst of the 1970s Natures Revenge cycle is that Gordon had not changed since the 1950s. He was still making 1950s monster movies Empire of the Ants was the only 1970s monster movie still using the hoary old notion of atomic waste as cause-all, for instance. While the rest of the films in the Natures Revenge cycle more than adequately used life-size insects and creatures, Bert I. Gordon was the only filmmaker still using the ultra-cheap effect of photographically enlarging insects, the results of which look exactly like enlarged insects milling about on screen and never conveys the slightest frisson.
For Empire of the Ants, Bert I. Gordon has assembled a disaster movie type character line-up, although he is unable to afford any more big name stars other than Robert Lansing, who remains dour and unhappy throughout, and a pre-Dynasty (1980-9) Joan Collins, who delivers a performance that more than adds this film to the considerable pile of her camp classics. The first half of the plot consists of a trek across the bayous menaced by insects. The initial real-estate scam plot is quickly forgotten (with Gordon in fact never even telling us whether it is a scam or not). The latter half becomes a potentially more interesting plot with the group entering a town where the insects keep the populace working for them as drones controlled by pheromones, although Gordon never has the skill to suggest any Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)-like edgy paranoia here. Empire of the Ants solidly and resolutely rests atop a pile of Z movie forgettability.
Bert I. Gordons other films are: King Dinosaur (1955), The Cyclops (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), the fantasy adventure The Boy and the Pirates (1960), the ghost story Tormented (1960), the fantasy The Magic Sword (1962), Village of the Giants (1965), the psycho-thriller Picture Mommy Dead (1966), the occult film Necromancy (1972), The Mad Bomber (1973), The Food of the Gods (1976) and the witchcraft films The Coming/Burned at the Stake (1981) and Malediction/Satans Princess (1990), and Secrets of a Psychopath (2015).
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