[[caption-width-right:308:Could be worse. [[TemptingFate At least it's not giant hornets.]]]]

->''"Exoskeleton armored, exoskeleton might\\
Exoskeleton horror, exoskeleton bite\\
Beware of Them!"''
-->-- '''Music/TheMisfits''', "Them"

A classic sci-fi/horror movie from 1954, directed by Gordon Douglas, starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, and James Arness.

A little girl is found wandering in the New Mexican desert, the only survivor of an unknown calamity that befell her vacationing family. When roused from her catatonia, she can only scream [[TitleDrop "Theeeeem!"]] Official investigation finally leads to the discovery that the culprits are Cadillac-sized ants, [[ILoveNuclearPower mutated by atomic radiation]]. The race is then on to locate and destroy the ants' nest before new queens hatch out and fly across the world.

Made a ton of money for Creator/WarnerBros, and so helped establish many of the giant-monster-running-amok cliches for American cinema. Sadly, the vast majority of [[FollowTheLeader its imitators]] lacked the budget ''and'' the writing and acting talent on display here.

Not to be confused with the 2006 French horror film ''[[Film/{{Ils}} Them]]'' or the 1960s blues-rock band fronted by Music/VanMorrison.

!!The Film Features examples of:

* AbsentMindedProfessor: Edmund Gwenn's character, Dr. Harold Melford, is a mild example.
* AbsurdlySpaciousSewer: The Los Angeles storm drains are the setting for the climax.
* ActionGirl: Dr. Pat Medford. She goes into the New Mexico nest along with the men, overriding their objections.
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs: Well, ship out in the middle of the ocean with the ants, but the humans get to pull it off too with their nests.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:
--> '''City official:''' Now Dr. Medford, since time is of the utmost importance, I recommend we pour gasoline into those drains and light it. That'll burn out anything that's in there and we still be able to control the fires. There will be little or no property damage above the street. Any ants that get through, the troops can take care of them.
--> '''Graham:''' You can't do that, not yet. Not till we find out for sure if those two kids are in there.
--> '''City official:''' You think there's a chance they're still alive? Are we supposed to jeopardize the lives of all the people of this city for the sake of two children who in all probability are already dead?
--> '''Graham:''' ''Why don't you ask their mother that question, mister.''
--> '''Peterson:''' Yea, she's standing right over there.
--> '''City official:''' Yea, I see what you mean.
* AnyoneCanDie: [[spoiler: Peterson, the first important character we meet, dies near the end.]] Very rare in 1950s cinema. Itís made worse by the fact that [[spoiler: he's arguably one of the most likable characters, firmly established as a FriendToAllChildren (he even saves two boys from the ants before getting killed), and he feels incredibly guilty when Blackburn dies. The fact that the arguably most moral and warm hearted character could be brutally killed off in this universe is the first sign the movie is not going to have a hopeful, optimistic ending...]]
* AttackOfThe50FootWhatever: More like 10 foot, but that's still much, much larger than regular ants.
* BigCreepyCrawlies: Giant radioactive ants! Which don't care about the old rules of nature!
* BugWar: The antagonist are giant ants and the plots focus on stopping them from spreading around the world.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The movie poster: The [[DamselInDistress scantily clad woman in the ant's mandibles]]? The quotes? Not in the movie.
* CuriosityKilledTheCast: The fate of [[spoiler:Blackburn]].
* DownLADrain: Where the giant ants ended up.
* EmergencyAuthority: Martial law is declared in LA when evidence strongly points to a new nest below the city. A 6PM curfew is imposed, with military police patrolling the city.
* TheEndOrIsIt: [[spoiler: The ants are all wiped out, but Dr. Medford Sr. issues a grim warning; the atomic genie is out the bottle.]]
* ExcitedShowTitle: More like scared one, but you get the point.
* FireBreathingWeapon: Flamethrowers are used when characters go into ant nests.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Sergeant Peterson's love of children. Also, the ants swarming over spilled sugar in the store.
* FriendToAllChildren: Peterson. It's pretty obvious from his actions and body language that children in any kind of distress really upset him.
* GenderMisdirection: The characters expect "Dr. Pat Medford" to be a Patrick, not a Patricia.
* GenreShift: Starts out as a low-key podunk police investigation, ends with flamethrower assaults in the Los Angeles sewer.
* HellIsThatNoise: The high pitched sound the ants make.
* HeroicBSOD: That little girl.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Peterson.]]
* HollywoodApocrypha: Dr. Medford Sr. quotes some as the scope of the problem appears...
-->"And there shall be destruction and darkness come over creation\\
"And the Beasts shall reign over the earth."
* HotScientist: Joan Weldon as Pat Medford.
* ILoveNuclearPower: The ants are enormous because of radiation-induced mutations. They appear in New Mexico because that's the site of the first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo.
* ImmuneToBullets: Unless you aim at the antennae, effectively blinding the ants. They're not ''completely'' immune, but quite resistant.
* InfantImmortality: Though this is still a pretty grim dark movie, mostly played straight, but averted for one subtle instance offscreen before the start of the film; see Fridge tab...
* KillItWithFire: This film had flamethrower-toting heroes stalking monsters through dark tunnels decades before ''{{Franchise/Alien}}''.
* TheMainCharactersDoEverything: Exactly why is Peterson, a New Mexico State Trooper, still hanging around assisting the FBI and the Army long after the story has left New Mexico in the dust?
* MaleGaze: Our first glimpse of Pat combines this with FeetFirstIntroduction, ShesGotLegs, and SkirtsAndLadders. As she exits from the bottom of a plane, her skirt gets caught on a ladder, putting her legs on display for a few seconds. A crewman offers assistance, but she demurs.
* TheMenInBlack: The pilot who witnesses the flying ants can't get anyone to believe him, and the doctor tells the protagonists he's going to let him go as he thinks he's faking insanity to excuse crashing his aircraft. Instead the protagonists order the doctor to commit the pilot until the government tells him otherwise. Ah, those were the days; none of this memory-wiping flashy stuff...
* NoisyNature: The ants display good lung-power, constantly chittering and shrieking vaguely cicada-like noises. No, it's not biologically accurate. But ''damn'' if it isn't creepy...
* PoliceProcedural: The movie has the straightforward quasi-documentary style of contemporaneous Police Procedurals like ''Franchise/{{Dragnet}}''.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Every layer of government behaves as rationally as it can, under the circumstances. This becomes an InvokedTrope when the authorities go public; before beginning their announcement, they introduce a tableful of generals and scientists to support the statement that's about to be made, so the public will believe it.
* ScreamingWoman: Used effectively (e.g. with restraint) for once. Pat Metford screams the first time she (and the audience) catch sight of a giant killer ant at close quarters, but is calm and professional the rest of the movie. And of course there's the catatonic girl who suddenly breaks into a TitleDrop when she smells a vial of formic acid.
* SplashOfColor: The entire movie is gray scale with the exception of the title at the start.
* SquareCubeLaw: Obviously ignored, but let's face it ó [[NecessaryWeasel you couldn't have the movie if you didn't]].
* StayInTheKitchen: Impressively averted, considering the era it was made. The military gasses the nest of giant killer ants, and the next stage is for someone to go down into the nest and confirm they're all dead. This is universally recognized as a [[DarknessEqualsDeath very bad idea]], yet HotScientist Dr. Pat Medford argues firmly and convincingly that she ''has'' to go down into the nest as her father is too old and she can't give the two male leads "a crash course in insect pathology".
* StockScream: Several uses of the Wilhelm Scream. (Although this was long before it became an example of this trope.)
* ThatCameOutWrong: A pilot (played by Fess Parker) who's been locked up in an asylum for his claim of seeing giant flying ants defends his sanity:
-->'''Pilot:''' "You think I'd make up something like that? A fella'd have to ''crazy'' to make up something like that! I mean..."
* TitleDrop: When the little girl is snapped out of her HeroicBSOD, she SHOUTS it...
-->"THEM! THEM!"
* TooDumbToLive: No one noticed a bunch of giant ants nesting on a ship? This is at least lampshaded when a character asks the same question.