Friday, February 6, 2009

Movie Review: Ants (Also known as It Happened At Lakewood Manor)

Ants Aka It Happened At Lakewood Manor
Not Rated
3 Slimes
Copyright Alan Landsburg Productions, Inc. 1977

THE CHARACTERS

Mike Carr: Robert Foxworth! He’s a guy who’s in charge of the construction that is happening across from the Lakewood Manor. He’s romantically involved with Valerie and manages to figure out that ants are the cause of the problem.

Valerie Adams: Lynda Day George! She runs the Lakewood Manor with her mother. She wants to sell the old place so she can go live with Mike.

Ethel Adams: Myrna Loy! She is the owner of the Lakewood Manor and she doesn’t want to sell the place. Considering the ant problem, she should really try to get rid of the place.

Anthony “Tony” Fleming: This guy wants to buy the Lakewood Manor, tear it down, and turn it into a casino. The plan doesn’t work out when the ants start invading the place. In the end, he does a high dive off a third story balcony and tries to land in the manor’s pool to escape the ants. You can the guess the rest.

Gloria Henderson: Suzanne Somers! She’s Tony business partner in the manor deal. She likes to try to keep pleasure out of business and that worked out well (sarcasm). The ants end up killing her when they start crawling on her and then biting down when she freaks out.

Vince: He works with Mike in construction job. I think he is Mike’s right hand man as well. He manages to rescue Richard from death with his bulldozer.

Richard Cyril: Barry Van Dyke! He works at the Lakewood Manor as a lifeguard I think. His job is never very clear. He ends up falling in love with this girl he never met in less than I think 10 hours. It’s strange how killer ants bring people together.

Linda Howard: She’s some random girl who uses her charm to get a room at Lakeside Manor at the worst possible time. She’s in love with Richard. She is also a big wimp when it comes to ants and escaping out of second floor windows.

Peggy Kenter: Anita Gillette! She works with the Board of Health and investigates the death of the construction worker. She actually believes Mike’s claims about the killer ants, which is surprising since most government personal don’t believe in these kinds of problems until it is too late, like her partner for example…

Lionel White: Steve Franken! He works with Peggy Kenter in the state Department of Health (I find that interesting since the movie is actually in Canada). He doesn’t believe that ants killed and attacked all the people in the manor. Those ants sure set him straight in the end.

Fire Chief: Brian Dennehy! He runs the operation to save the people still trapped inside of the Lakewood Manor when the ants overrun the place.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Ants can use chemical warfare against people.
+ A single ant colony can have over a billion ants in it.
+ Ants hate it when you destroy their nest.
+ Sometimes you just can’t keep pleasure out of business.
+ Ants, after killing someone, will quickly leave the scene of the crime.
+ Gasoline kills ants instantly, even when it isn’t set on fire.
+ The US Coast Guard also helps people in Canada.
+ Women scream upon seeing ants crawling across the ground

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A SHACK!
1 min – The sign said keep out so you should have kept out!
2 min – Interesting, the copyright date is in Roman Numerals.
4 min – Alright then, let’s see how long you stick to that belief of yours.
4 min – Lakewood Manor? The back of the DVD cover calls the place Lakeside Manor!
7 min – Random close shot of ants.
8 min – America? This film is in Canada! Don’t the actors realize that?
13 min – Random footage of ants.
18 min – Wow, you guys are already kissing and you’ve only know each for less than an hour or so.
21 min – Random footage of ants in a kitchen sink!
22 min – Man, she looks good in a swimsuit.
25 min – Oh, don’t sound too sympathetic about them!
27 min – Random footage of ants in a line!
28 min – Shouldn’t he be able to feel all of those ants?
29 min – Whoa! Where did all those ants go that were on his body a second ago?
34 min – Didn’t you say you wanted to keep pleasure out of business before?
36 min – Don’t all of those ants in the kitchen violate the health code or something?
41 min – A virus is causing everything? Didn’t you see the ant bites on the guy’s feet or the bites on the boy’s body?
44 min – This isn’t going to lead to anything good.
47 min – Oh no… not another education film in a killer ant movie!!
53 min – Random footage of ants breaking into the hotel!
55 min – Random footage of ants crawling across a female!
56 min – Well you proved your point at the cost of somebody’s life. Happy now?
57 min – Do you now believe the ants are the cause of the problem? Oh right, you’re dead so you can’t answer.
60 min – Random footage of ants in a large group!
63 min – Those are ants? It looks more like someone color with a black crayon on the film strip.
64 min – Random footage of ants climbing the stairs!
66 min – It be easier for the fireman to lift you to safety if you would stop squirming around!!
75 min – How didn’t he break through that when he fell two stories?
82 min – Random footage of… ah screw it!
83 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WALLPAPER!
86 min – How did the ants get on his hand without crawling up his legs?
89 min – Just think happy thought at this point!
91 min – It’s about time you got here!

NOTABLE QUOTES
Mike Carr: You know what I think? I think it’s mad because we disturbed it!

Mike Carr: I figured it out by what I’ve seen. This may sound crazy but… but it’s what I believe. The problem is ants. Regular little ants.

Peggy Kenter: Is it possible for those ants to kill people?
Tom: 20 years ago the answer would have been no. That’s before they started putting poisons into the air.

Tom: We’re the ones who forced them to live in a toxic world. Why should we be surprised if they found a way to use it?

THE PLOT

I was preparing for the worst when I bought this DVD. After all, with a title like Ants or It Happened At Lakewood Manor, I didn’t believe this was going to turn out well. However, I was fairly surprised when I watched this movie. It was… pretty good. Really! This isn’t that bad of movie! It’s even a TV movie and it’s about killer ants! That sounds like a dangerous combination, but it wasn’t!

The movie opens with a bunch of guys flattening the land or something for the new hotel coming later. One of the workers checks out this area they are making for hotel’s basement and finds another worker getting attacked by ants. We don’t seem the ants of course, but we already know they are the cause. The guy getting attack falls to the ground and the other worker runs over to help him, but they are suddenly buried alive when a bulldozer accidently knocks some of the dirt on top of them. 10 minutes later, Mike Carr, the man in charge of the construction, discovers what happened to the guys and unearths them. The guy that got attacked earlier ends up dying and the first worker barely escapes with his life, but goes into a coma.

While this is happening, Gloria Henderson and Anthony Fleming come up to the Lakewood Manor to talk to the current owner, Ethel Adams, about selling the place to them. Fleming isn’t a likeable person at all, so I wonder why someone like Gloria would actually want to work with him? I don’t know, I don’t think about these kinds of things during films like this. Ethel doesn’t want to sell, but Valerie, her daughter, wants her to so she and Mike can move to San Francisco.

In subplot 2, Richard Cyril, an employee, has fallen in love with this random girl he meets called Linda Howard. He lets her stay in the hotel for free and everything; they even share a kiss. Like I mention in a previous review, I don’t care about romance in a horror movie.

Because of the death of the construction worker, two people from the Board of Health, Peggy Kenter and Lionel White, are called in to investigate the incident. As you would suspect, they are complete jerks to Mike and his construction buddy, Vince, and for some reason think it’s their fault for the guy’s death. In another scene, this kid gets attacked by a ton of ants while dumpster diving for glass bottles he can recycle. As he is running away from the dumpster, you can see that the ants disappear off of his body at one point. The kid survives the attack, but not the next guy. A kitchen worker gets killed by a ton of ants when they all bite down at once on him.

With what just happened, the Board of Health workers believe the whole situation is caused by a virus. Mike believes it was caused by the ants, after they attacked Vince and nearly make his entire body go numb. Lionel refuses to believe this, but Peggy decides to check more into this. She goes to her scientist friend named Tom, who believes that the ants have somehow been able to make their own poison and use it to paralyze and kill people. This makes as much sense as anything in a film of this genre.

While all of this goes on, Mike decides to prove that ants are the problem by destroying their nest inside of the basement he and his team were building during the construction. This naturally causes the ants to get angry and start to swarm everyone at the manor. Lionel White and Gloria Henderson are killed during the onslaught of the ants’ invasion. If only that idiot White would have listen to Mike in the first place.

The fire department and the coast guard (The movie is suppose to be in United States, but this is obviously in Canada) are called in to rescue the remaining people inside of the hotel, which include Richard, Linda, Mike, Ethel, Anthony, and Valerie. The fire department rescues Linda, the coast guard rescues Ethel, and Vince manages to save Richard. However, Mike, Anthony, and Valerie have to hold out until some people come with bug proof suits for them so they can leave the hotel.

As the ants move in closer, Mike wants the three of them to remain perfectly still. The ants won’t bite them if they don’t move around. This plan works well, but Anthony can’t sit still long enough as the ants crawl all over him and he panics. He jumps from the three story balcony, hoping that he can land in the pool. Of course he misses the mark by several feet and goes splat on the ground. No big loss, he was never a likeable character in this movie anyways.

Luckily for Mike and Valerie, they are rescued and taken to safety. As for the ants, now that their home is destroyed, Tom believes that the colony will scatter and never bother anyone again.

That’s pretty much it. This was fairly decent movie with good acting from some great actors and actresses, a decent enough script, and a soundtrack that works very well for the movie. There were a couple of problems with the film as well, such as some points where the actors have ants on them in one scene and not in the next. Overall though, this was an above average, enjoyable film from beginning to end. I recommend it as B-movie fan to anyone curious in seeing a movie about killer ants, besides Them, that is actually good. An interesting thing to note about this film is that the entire movie takes place during the course of one day.

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