Sunday, April 3, 2011

70'S FOCUS : EMPIRE OF THE ANTS .. 1977 ...

 AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL
Presents


EMPIRE OF THE ANTS


 Starring
JOAN COLLINS as Marilyn Fryser
ROBERT LANSING as Dan Stokely
EDWARD POWER as Charlie Pearson
JOHN DAVID CARSON as Joe Morrison
JACQUELINE SCOTT as Margaret Ellis
ALBERT SALMI as Art Kincade
PAMELA SHOOP as Coreen Bradford
ROBERT PINE as Larry Graham
BROOKE PALANCE as Christine Graham
HARRY HOLCOMBE as Harry Thompson
IRENE TEDROW as Velma Thompson
Executive Producer - Samuel Z Arkoff  
   Assistant Director - Cariline Ann Davis
      Director of Photography - Reg Morris
          Music by Dana Kaproff
            Screenplay by Jack Turley Based on a story by H.G.Wells
               Edited by Michael Luciano
                    Produced and Directed by Bert I Gordon


                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 A group of prospective buyers embark on a tour of up and coming development, Greenland Shores, with tough real estate agent Marilyn Fryser at the helm! But little do they know, the high price for this swampland haven, where the down payment is your life! After a toxic spillage on a nearby beach, the local ant colony 
consume the deadly waste. Soon they become too big for your pants, as they try to inherit the earth in the Empire Of The Ants!!
   (c) 1977 AIP  91MINS  REG 1/2 DVD FROM MGM ....
DRINK UP DEARIES! YOUR AT YOUR ANT-IES!
This cult classic, is one of Joan's least favourite films, more because of it's appalling shooting conditions, than for the finished presentation. Filmed in Belle Glade Florida and Jensen Beach, worst of all the filthy waters of the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee. The cast had to resort to doing their own stunts as the stunt personnel could not get to the location as the shoot was very near to Christmas. Joan has always expressed her feelings that the film was the worst film experience of her career. The cast were actually immersed in the murky swamp waters, that probably had not moved in hundreds of years! Even though the crew doctors has given them inoculation shots, Joan's legs got badly infected, that she had to wear plastic bags for the rest of the shoot. They were also plagued with swamp fleas and mosquito's as Joan recalled at the time.
" I've got scars all over! Even at that, I'm lucky! Bert asked us to do things, that actors usually don't do. We were hip deep in swamp water!"
Joan's screams in the film were all too real, as she was in agony, almost drowning in one scene, where the boat they are travelling in turns over and they all end up in the filthy water!
PHEW THAT SWAMP WATER STINKS!
Some of the special ant effects were shot using magnified images of the Panamanian bullet ant. Other effects were filmed using a new lens , The Matex Prism Lens. For her role, Joan was nominated for Best Actress at the 1978 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films. 
As expected reviews were not kind, reviewers missing the point that it was meant to be in the style of the schlocky 50's  monster B-movies. The film did do well on the drive-in circuit.
JOAN! THAT'S NOT AN ANT, IT'S YOUR FAKE EYELASH!
VARIETY.....
" This H.G.Wells inspired slice of exploitation, is an above average effort about ants that grow bigger after munching on radioactive waste and then terrorize a group headed by Joan Collins and Robert Lansing. Periodic moments of good special effects are separated by reels of dramatic banality, as players flounder in flimsy dialogue, under sluggish direction."
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY REVIEW....
" In the 50s, Bert I Gordon became notorious for his atomic mutant and giant insect films. So much that he was nicknamed "Mr Big". However he continued even in the 70's making the same old 50s style monster movies, with ultra cheap effects. For 'Ants', he assembled a disaster type character line-up, although is unable to afford any big names other than Robert Lansing and Joan Collins, who delivers a performance, that more than adds to the considerable pile of her camp classics!"
CAN YOU SEE THE BAGS UNDER MY KNEES!
Viewed today it provides a fun 90mins and Joan is good value as ever with a suitably able supporting cast.. Viewed in the context of a campy monster movie, you certainly can't go wrong!


UK VIDEO PRESS SHEET

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