They don't make movies like this one anymore, and that's probably a good thing. This wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen and it was probably pretty good by old-school standards, but there was plenty of horrible, horrible things about it.
It predates Jaws, the film I most commonly hear as being credited for the "don't constantly show the monster" approach, by about twenty years. As such, it's probably unfair to criticize it for showing too much of the monster. Nonetheless, I do. The monsters themselves (yes, there's more than one in spite of the title) actually look pretty cool. The problem is that they can't move or grab people convincingly, and this movie kept showing them in ways that diminished their coolness.
In one scene, all they did was zoom in on a monster to give the impression that it was moving. This would have been fine if not for the fact that there was seaweed around it also being zoomed in on. It looked like the seaweed was attacking right alongside the monster! Which, in retrospect, might've been cool. Attack Of The Killer Seaweed!
One effect that never looked cool was the corpses. When these giant slugs of death (yes, slugs) killed people, they drained all the water from their bodies and their corpses were deformed as a result. And by deformed, I mean made of paper-mâché.
Another example of them showing too much, but again, I think that's a film tactic that didn't catch on until later. Of course, the whole "don't show too much" concept later died a horrible death at the hands of CGI. Progress!
This movie, along with some other old movies like Them!, had a quaint way of letting you know why these big versions of small critters should be feared: educational film strips! That's right, they essentially stopped the movie to give you the nitty gritty details on the normal versions of these creatures, complete with footage that helped to illustrate just how fake the big versions look. Granted, it's not literally stopping the movie. The token scientist is on hand to narrate and it's being shown to whatever military personnel got stuck with this assignment. Nonetheless, it makes some of my own clunkier expositions from EGS look downright Shakespearean.
So long as I brought it up, it's worth noting that Them! is of a somewhat higher quality than TMTCTW. For one thing, the title is short enough that I don't feel compelled to abbreviate it. Also, it has ants instead of slugs, and ants win that battle of coolness.
As a film to simply watch, I don't rate this one too highly. Not totally horrible, but certainly not good, either.
As an intentionally bad movie to watch with a group of friends, however...
With the somewhat pointless ranting and rating out of the way (you know, the entire blog post up until now), feel free to enjoy the tweets I made while watching this movie. If anyone cares, yes, there are SPOILERS!, but I don't think this was a movie with much to spoil.
- Watching some old monster monster movie on TCM. Oh no, goo!
- This commander's a bit of a douche.
- Atomic energy slices, dices, it does it all!
- Crap. I think the movie wants me to like him. I was hoping the cantankerous old scientist dude would be the hero.
- Maybe the mortician will be the hero. He looks death in the eye and eats a sandwich.
- A movie this absurd needs popcorn. My rampant tweeting will cease--GOOD LORD! You couldn't have said "no swimming" before she left?!
- And now she's dead. Way to go, jackass.
- Commander Douche, I will eat my popcorn extra angrily because of you. Douche.
- IT GOT BLAKE!
- Stop flirting with the widow, douche!
- Stop flirting with the douche, widow!
- Tweeting with one hand, eating popcorn with chopsticks in another. What could be--NOT THE CANAL!
- Aw man. That's another Blake killed.
- They'd have saved the day by now if they had manlier mustaches.
- Jamie Hyneman would've had this all wrapped up in under a minute.
- ...You have GOT to be kidding me.
- Who leaves a child unsupervised in a lab with a radioactive monster egg?!
- Why is this called "The Monster That Challenged The World"? There's more than one.
- This movie would have benefitted from more Jaws-like editing. This critters should be feared, not seen.
- Even I'm questioning the science of this. ME.
- Yes, the bunnies are dead, and it's YOUR FAULT. It's like you have the mind of a little kid or something.
- Commander Douche completely ignored the HUGE AXE when desperately searching for a weapon.
- Well, that was ridiculous.