70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
These are two of the best films from their time and genre. "Them" is the first of the giant bug movies of the fifties. The script is thoughtful and well written. The movie was also well cast. James Arness (Matt Dillion of Gunsmoke fame) and James Whitmore play the FBI agent and police officer on the trail of a strange killer. Good action and special effects, for its time, make this a claasy choice.
"The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" is also the first and best of the frozen dinosaur released in the modern day films. Based on a story by Ray Bradbury and with special effects by Ray Harryhausen, how can you go wrong. I remeber watching this as a kid and being scared as all get out.
Both of these films are worth watching and having.
95 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2006
This is a DVD-10... a double sided DVD.
Each side contains the previously available version of each of these classics. They are exactly the same, bit-for-bit.
The DVD is housed in a plastic amaray keepcase, unlike the original versions which came in cardboard snapper cases.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2007
Aficionados of 1950's Sci Fi movies will want to rush out and grab this great double feature consisting of "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" and "Them". Both films stand alone as memorable examples of some of the better movies to come from this era. Kudos to Warner Brothers for putting them on the same "double bill"!
Similar in plot line to a degree, both films deal with horrific situations that occur after nuclear testing. (a familar plot line from films of this era.) In "Beast...", it's a pre-historic Rhedosaurus that's awakened in the Arctic from an atomic blast and migrates south to a climactic finish in New York City. In "Them", ants who have been continually exposed to radiation from atomic testing in the New Mexico desert grow to enormous proportions and eventually terrorize Los Angeles.
Both films have memorable special effects in their own right. "Beast..." because of the special effects genius of Ray Harryhausen. This film is Harryhausen's first solo effort and he definitely excels. The "lighthouse" scene is visually stunning for special effects of this era. "Them", on the other hand, is memorable primarily because of its cheesy giant "puppet" ants with their haunting sounds. It's difficult not to retain the sound the ants make in this movie long after you've seen it. Still, you have to give film director, Gordon Douglas, credit for incorporating live action scenes with the ants in this film.
Both movies have solid casts for films of this era. "Beast..." is led by cinematic veterans Paul Christian, familar face Paula Raymond, Kenneth Tobey (from "The Thing") and, in one of his first roles, Lee Van Cleef (from Spaghetti Western fame). "Them" does have a stronger cast which includes strong performances from rock-jawed James Whitmore, James Arness, Edmund Gwenn ("Santa" from "Miracle on 34th St."), and the lovely Joan Weldon. Look closely for quick appearances by Leonard Nimoy and Fess Parker.
All in all, this double feature is simply a great value for collectors and/or lovers of Sci Fi films from this era. In addition to the films, there are a few extras that include a memorable interview with Harryhausen and his great friend, Ray Bradbury and behind-the-scenes looks at the special effects of both films. They are welcome added bonuses and not just filler. The viewer simply can't go wrong with this purchase!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2008
The movies themselves are classic SciFi of the best variety. "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" is good fun. We have a prehistoric beast rampaging ships, a lighthouse, a diving bell, and the city of New York. The beast was created by the master of stop motion, Ray Harryhausen. It may not be his best work but it is decent enough to make it worth watching if you enjoy the older Black & White monster movies. "Them" is a wonderfully shot giant ant movie with an exceptional cast. I enjoy "Them" the most because they draw out you actually seeing the ants and make it suspenseful with the police investigation into dead people and wreckage in the desert.
They then begin to hear unusual sounds before they find what they are up against. The sound effects were quite good for the time and I am impressed with the desert wind sounds along with the ant sounds. Add in good lighting effects at night and it really adds to the atmosphere of this movie. This set is a great value. I went ahead and replaced my original two separately packaged DVDs with this set since I am trying to reduce shelf space I require with thinner boxes or combined movies on one disc. This has both movies on one DVD and the quality is excellent and they throw in some extras on each movie. Good quality DVD with excellent replayability. If you enjoyed this, catch The Day the Earth Stood Still.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
Such a deal! Two great giant critter movies on one DVD. "Them" is of course the classic tale of nature gone wrong at the hands of Mankind. The story opens with a small child wandering in the desert. She is found by our intrepid police officers in a state of serious shock. Up the road, her family's camper is found trashed, but from the inside out. Turns out the RV owner was an FBI guy on vacation, so in comes G-man James Arness. Another local is eaten, and so is the red-shirted police officer. A print is sent to Washington DC and lo, here come the Bug Doctors, including a scrumptious lady scientist. James says "schwang" but she is not to be trifled with and how! She hangs tough the entire movie, I must say which sets this movie in a class of it's own (as compared to "The Beginning of the End", "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and other offerings from this time period). Anyway, the bugs are found in a truly chilling scene gnawing human bones. The ant colony is gassed out, but it is soon discovered that two queens have escaped. The hunt is on! Interestingly our local beat cop takes meeting with gubmint honchos and seems to be an expert at everything, including the sewer system of LA. All ends well but not without a warning of the potential for things to come.
"The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" Is another nuclear cautionary tale but a bit less graceful. A bomb awakens a dinosaur near Baffin Bay. I'm thinking, "reptiles don't internally thermoregulate, and have no furr" and sure enough, it floats downstream popping up here and there to induce hysterical self-doubt in a number of Canadians on its way to warmer climes. Our Baffin Bay survivor hero convinces a cutie-pie scientist babe that he's not nuts and they fall in love in a nicely played scene where the sexual tension could be cut with a knife. Finally the critter shows up in New York and everyone believes our hero. Lee Van Cleef turns up as a marksman and pegs the critter from atop a precarious roller coaster. Scary!Excellent!
Both movies are highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2007
I love these old sci-fi movies! Them is (in-case you didn't already know) about giant mutated ants that like to chew on the flesh of unsuspecting humans. Some scenes are pretty graphic for the 50's, and the effects are way ahead of their time. Back in the good old days when computers didn't do all the hard work for you. The other cool thing about this movie is the research they do on ants, that they can lift 20x there weight, breed like nobody's business ect., and it just makes it that much more scary. I also like the noise the ants make, it's like this high pitch sqealing noise, and is pretty creepy.
I bought this primarily for Them, but ended up really liking The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms a lot! Probably just as much as Them. The story is very good and gets you hooked right away. I think it's because nobody believes the main character when he tells them that he seen a giant pre-historic monster, and automaticaly label him as insane. So for the rest of the movie your just waiting for this thing to attack New York so that they believe him, and it does. This movie is FILLED with stop-motion animation, and TONS of miniatures, which I love.
This print is very impressive, the picture quality is great, the sound is very good for a movie from the 50's. For $12.99, you can't beat it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2006
I saw "Them" when it first came out. I was probably about nine years old. My father told my mother it was a nature documentary about insects, so the family, including some aunts, uncles and nieces and nephews all piled into our cars and drove into Manhattan. When we got to the theatre, on the marquee was a totally gigantic ant with a partially clad woman in its mandibles.
The 'girls' went down the street to see National Velvet.
The 'boys' went into see 'Them'. I remember exactly when we walked in (in those days, movie going was a much easier experience. If you wandered in late, you stayed to see what you missed at the next showing). I came into the theatre just after James Whitmore and his partner walked into Gramp's general store. They found his body. Whitmore leaves his partner there while he goes to interview an ant survivor. His partner, alone, hears some chirping.... Given the marquee, as he walked out of the wrecked store, gun drawn, we knew what was going to happen...
'Them!' remains one of my favourite films of that era. It has not been easy to find on DVD, so for many years I made do with a VHS version. Glad I am that I purchased this DVD combo with 'The Beast from Twenty Thousand Fathoms'. The transfer is excellent--sharp enough to cut your eyeballs. The black and white film looks great, just as it did in the theatre. The 'extras' are not all that extra, but it was kind of fun to see very brief clips showing special effects technicians manipulating the giant ant mock-ups.
The charm and brilliance of this film does not lie in the special effects. They're okay, but really just barely. This is not an eye candy film. You rarely see the ants moving much. But they remain convincing because they are in the context of an excellently written, directed and acted film. The movie is 'real' all the way through. No kiddie stuff here, no weak acting.
Look closely and you will see a rather young Leonard Nimoy at a teletype machine. Fess Parker, later to become Davey Crockett for Walt disney, got his big break in this film with a meatier role.
This film is odds-on best of all the giant bug movies of the fifties.
"The Beast" has long been available on Ray Harryhausen DVDs, but it is a definite bonus to have it on this double sided DVD. The transfer is also very good, and there are some nice featurettes. "The Beast" is Harryhausen's first go-it-alone feature after working with his mentor, the great Willis O'Brien, on "Mighty Joe Young."
I remember going to the local theatre in Brooklyn to see this film when it first cdame out. My mom did not want me to go, after seeing the ads on tv, but relented. The theatre was packed. The movie really was the first of its kind for my generation--King Kong was twenty years old then, and I'd seen it on a re-release to an equally packed theatre. The experience of seeing this film was electrifying. Compared to 'Them!', the effects were eye candy, and the real reason for seeing the film. It was well acted and directed, but could not and can not compare with 'Them!' in those departments.
An excellent DVD bargain.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2014
If you buy this dvd set, be sure you buy the newer two-disc set which has each movie on a separate dvd. The older one-disc set, which has both movies on either side of the same disc, has playback problems (THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS will freeze/skip, but THEM! will play properly). I was able to return my defective one-disc set to Warner Bros. in exchange for the two-disc set.
As for the movies themselves, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS features Ray Harryhausen's classic Rhedosaurus and is based on a short story by Harryhausen's good friend Ray Bradbury. It stars French actor Paul Christian and Kenneth Tobey, who co-starred in Harryhausen's IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and starred in the classic THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD). Look for Spaghetti Western icon Lee Van Cleef as the Army sniper who fires the fatal radioactive bullet into the Rhedosaurus. Also, in the scene where the Rhedosaurus eats the New York policeman, if you watch carefully, a few scenes later, the same supposedly-dead policeman is resurrected among the policemen firing their rifles at the Rhedosaurus.
THEM! uses a similar plot to BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (and many other sci fi movies) in which giant monsters are the result of atomic bomb tests and also uses a similar plot in which the hero teams up with a leading scientist and his beautiful assistant to stop the monster(s). THEM! stars James Whitmore and James Arness, who was The Thing in the original THE THING and later starred on the classic tv Western GUNSMOKE. Look for Fess Parker (who later achieved fame playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone) in a small role as a Texas pilot who is hospitalized after claiming he saw a giant flying ant.The giant ants in THEM! are not particularly convincing and pale in comparison to Harryhausen's Rhedosaurus in THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS.
Both movies in this set who are among the top sci fi movies of the 1950s and should be included in any sci fi movie collection.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2007
For anyone who loves the 50's "atomic monster" movies, these two are must-haves. Both still stand up well over the test of time. "The Beast..." features stop-motion animation by legendary special effects man Ray Harryhausen, featuring what I personally think is one of his best looking creations. The movie features plenty of monster-stomping action and a pretty intelligent script for what was pretty much a "quickie" production. "Them" is the classic "atomic radiation has unexpected results" theme that was copied ad nauseum, but rarely done better. The effects are, well, giant puppets, but the photography and sound effects still manage to make them pretty impressive, and the shots of the desert are still genuinely creepy. The fire-fight between the army and the nest of giant ants at the climax of the picture is first rate.
The special features are pretty good. The "archive footage" from the "Them" side is interesting, but a little skimpy. The special features on the "Beast" side give a little more background. Both side's menus are easy to navigate, and the "them" side is set up in an amusing fashion. Overall for anyone who likes 50's science fiction, you'd want to have both these titles anyway. Getting them together is a great deal.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
If you like 50's sci-fi or monster movies, this two DVD set (mine came as two separate DVDs, not a double-sided disc) brings together two of the finest of the genre. They're both really really good!
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS: BEAST is actually the very first "Nuclear bomb awakens giant deadly monster(s)" movie ever made. Gojira a.k.a. Godzilla, King of the Monsters would come one year later, along with its US counterpart THEM!, the other movie on this set (more on THEM! vs. Godzilla later).
BEAST is the story of how A-bomb testing in the frozen arctic awakens a Rhedosaurus, a made-up dinosaur that's rather huge and also plague ridden. He takes a while to make it to NYC though, so in the meantime its up to the only surviving member from the Arctic test experiment to try to convince other people of what he's seen. He teams up with a lady scientist and his story of the monster is more and more validated by news of shipwrecks where the survivors all claim a sea serpent wrecked the ship.
While already gaining serious points for being the first of its kind, were BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS made any other year it would still get high marks for being one of the absolute best of its genre. Not only is the Rhedosaurus beautifully realized through Ray Harryhausen's gorgeous stop-motion animation, he's a fairly realistic dinosaur and one you'd probably believe actually existed at some point if you hadn't already knew better. Monster fans can also rejoice as the Rhedosaurus is first seen within minutes of the films start and gets plenty of screen time culminating in a great showdown next to a roller coaster. The acting is also solid throughout, the script intelligent, the characters likable, the pacing brisk, and even the romantic subplot (the weakest point of many of these types of films) is not only subtle and very well done, its actually needed for the main story! As I've said before, BEAST was one of the first of its kind, and its easily among the best the genre had to offer.
THEM!: This film features ants on the attack after the A-bomb testing in White Sands mutates the creatures to gigantic size! It hooks you in with a suspensful opening as two cops find a girl wandering a stretch of desert road silent from shock, holding a doll with half its head broke off. Upon investigation the cops find several structures broken into and ransacked, with only sugar being taken. A call to the FBI brings in two scientists, a fumbling but intelligent old man and his hot daughter, to investigate. Their suspicions are soon confirmed when they actually find the giant deadly ants. Attempts to kill all of them fail, and soon the ants are multiplying and spreading to the city nearby. The special effects in THEM! are a tad dated and don't hold up quite as well as the stop motion Rhedosaurus in BEAST, but when you compare THEM! to similarly themed but far worse efforts like Beginning of the End or Earth Vs. The Spider you realize just how much THEM! has going for it. Again, we have a very professional movie with great acting, great script, likable characters (the scientists daughter is especially impressive as she toughs it out through the whole movie alongside the men, never cowering in fear just because she's a girl), great pacing and a very clear and intentional message about the dangers of nuclear weaponry.
That last point is interesting considering THEM! came out the same year as the original GODZILLA did. Both films portray monsters created (or unearthed and resurrected) by atomic weapons testing, using the monsters as an allegory for the dangers of nuclear powered weapons. What is fascinating to me is how the different approaches of each film completely reflect which country made them.
GODZILLA has its monster completely devastating all of Tokyo, with the military completely powerless to stop it. Only by using an even more horrifying weapon can Godzilla be defeated. Given that Japan was the only nation ever to be on the recieving end of a nuclear strike, the powerlessness of Japans military to stop Godzilla and the complete destruction of Tokyo (the film focuses heavily on the aftermath instead of ending right after the attack) make sense given the national conciousness about just how much devastation nuclear weaponry can cause.
THEM!, on the otherhand, takes place in the USA, a nation who's not had a war fought on its shores since 1865, and who's defense capabilities and political might were pretty much unchallenged in 1954. Given those circumstances, its easy to see how the filmmakers view of the threat posed by nuclear weapons was not only more vague than the Japanese, but something the US military could've taken care of before it got out of hand (spoiler alert: The ants in THEM! are stopped way before they destroy an entire American city).
Its interesting to see the different view each culture had at that time of a possible danger, and how those views were reflected in each nations films. If one ever has to do a history project for school about how historical events have an effect on popular culture, a contrast between THEM! and GODZILLA would make an interesting study.
But I digress. Both of these movies are some of the absolute best of their kind. If you need a primer on 50's atomic monster movies, or if you watch tons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and ever wondered what the GOOD versions of those movies were like, here's a nicely priced 2-pack. Buy it today, you'll be glad you did.