This film is set at the turn of the century in the Amazon jungle, where Heston has carved a plantation empire. As the film opens, Parker, a New Orleans woman who has married Heston by proxy, arrives at the plantation to meet her new husband. Heston is cruel to her, rebuffing all her
attempts to make friends with him. Then, when she lets it slip that she was married before, he decides to send her packing. Before she can leave, Conrad, the province commissioner, comes to dinner. He tells Heston about strange happenings in the jungle, animal migrations, and when Heston asks him
what he thinks is causing them, Conrad says the dreaded word, "marabunda"--the massive movement of a huge swarm of soldier ants, twenty miles long, two miles wide, traveling six miles a day, devouring everything in its path. Conrad tells Heston that the only intelligent course is to get out of
their way, but Heston has fought the jungle too long and too hard to simply walk away. Parker argues that if Heston sends her away in the face of this threat, the native workers will also flee and Heston won't have a chance of fighting the ants, an argument that impresses Heston. He begins
preparing his plantation for the onslaught, blowing up the bridges and flooding some of the approaches. The ants, though, cross the water via leaves or by building bridges with their own bodies. Heston no sooner manages to stop the threat from one quarter when the assault is renewed on another.
Many of the natives flee in panic and it looks as though Heston is beaten. In a desperate last-ditch effort, he covers himself with grease and makes his way through the swarm to the main dam that holds back the water from which he claimed his plantation. With the ants almost covering his body,
Heston plants dynamite charges on the dam and blows it up. The ants are washed away and Heston, with Parker at his side, prepares to rebuild his plantation.
This amazing adventure features some incredible special effects of billions of ants ravaging the countryside. Heston gives a good performance, free of the bombast which marred some of his other performances. Parker is impressive as a woman strong enough to stand up to all the abuse her husband can
heap upon her, yet still winning his respect and love by the picture's conclusion. Some of the scripting is awkward and obvious, but once the insect attack occurs, dialog becomes unimportant. Of all the movies of people threatened by insects, from the giant ants of THEM (released slightly later in
1954) to the killer bees of THE SWARM (1978), this is probably the best, and certainly the most realistic. Producer Pal was the driving force behind many films which won Oscars for their effects, such as DESTINATION MOON (1950) and THE TIME MACHINE (1960).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This film is set at the turn of the century in the Amazon jungle, where Heston has carved a plantation empire. As the film opens, Parker, a New Orleans woman who has married Heston by proxy, arrives at the plantation to meet her new husband. Heston is crue… (more)