TV Terror Guide: Ants! (1977) aka It Happened at Lakewood Manor


When I watched Ants! (1977) for the first time, I never would have thought I’d watch it again. However, I can’t skip a 70s TV-movie here just because I didn’t like it many moons ago. It’s still not very good, but I enjoyed it immensely. The qualities I didn’t like back then are still there, but I am at a point where I can look past them and appreciate the film for what it is.

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Angry, poisonous ants are unearthed at a construction site and wreak havoc upon the crew, the property owner, and the guests. Ehtel (Myrna Loy) is uncertain about selling her lifelong home to developer Tony Fleming (Gerald Gordon), but when he’s trapped in a room full of ants and breathing out of a tube made of wallpaper to survive, the deal will probably fall through, anyway.

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Yes, Ants! is silly; however, it’s legitimately suspenseful. It doesn’t really matter what the threat is; it’s something that causes people to flee to avoid tiny insects crawling all over them and causing nearly instant death. Never mind that it tries to put validity to a theory with which I’d agree with Tom (Bruce French), the Department of Health inspector, is ridiculous.

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Speaking of the Board of Health, Tom and Peggy (Anita Gillette) should also investigate the rules of the kitchen. The chef, Luis (Rene Enriquez), wears sandals while cooking; that doesn’t seem sanitary. The facility is not very environmentally friendly, either. They toss glass bottles in the trash dumpster instead of recycling them.

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Yes, it’s 1977. Plus, why else would young Tommy (Moosie Drier) accidentally fall into the dumpster unless he was scavenging for glass bottles? He doesn’t know they’re covered with ants, which means he soon will be, also. He somehow survives although full-grown adults expire within moments. (By the way… Moosie Drier. Anyone remember him?!?)

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The ideas for preventing escalation of the disaster get an F, but the efforts of the characters trying to survive get an A. Why do they think going upstairs will help them, though? Gloria (Suzanne Somers) has already been found dead in her bedroom. And building a trench around the hotel would seem to contain the ants with the people whom they’re trying to rescue.

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I laughed out loud when a huge crowd had suddenly gathered to watch the fire department’s daring rescue attempts, applauding at their one success. It serves a purpose different than humor, though. When a helicopter arrives, its turbulence cause ants to go flying, soon covering the no-longer-applauding audience. But I thought the ants were contained within the trench…

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Again, it doesn’t matter. Put one of the characters, Ethel, in a wheelchair. watch her try to be rescued from a balcony, and you have a race against time that should get your heart pumping. Lakewood Manor seems like a safe place. The health and fire departments appear instantly. Just try finding a hazmat suit, though. The one thing that could help is nowhere to be found.

Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Ants! as well as all the great movies from this series.

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