One of the few monster movies that transcended its genre and entered the Oscar race, Them! was nominated for an award in the Special Effects category. In 1954, the giant ants of the film felt realer than any giant monster before. The tagline on a movie poster is just as hilarious as it is fear-inducting:
A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the Earth from mile-deep catacombs.
That reminds me of the Graboids from Tremors, but much bigger and more threatening.
The essential message behind the film came at a time when the nuclear threat was frighteningly new. The ants are mutated by atomic radiation to enormous proportions.
Rather than immediately showing off the gigantic ants, our first glimpse is 30 minutes into the film. This is probably what sets it apart from so many monster movies of the time. It is about suspense and mystery. Once we uncover the clues behind the disappearing people, it becomes a scary monster movie with one of the best giant monsters of all time.