Those of you who have read this column over the years know what it was in the way of movies and photos from monster magazines that really scared the pants off me as a young Monster Kid.
Well, there's more. A giant bug movie from the 1950's was another one that gave me the proverbial willies. Set out in the New Mexico desert, the tale begins when two cops discover a little girl wandering alone in a catatonic state. They find a vacant travel trailer to get her to and later find it was her family's. Everyone else is missing.
It's not too long before the discovery of a mysterious trail of death, with the bodies strangely saturated in formic acid. Doctors think to give the little girl a whiff and she violently snaps out of her catatonia, screaming, "Them!".
It finally becomes known that "Them!" are giant ants who have become mutated as result of recent nuclear testing near Alamogordo. The queens take flight and set up a new nest in the spillways along the Los Angeles River. There is a showdown between the military and the ants, with the ants losing out to the spray of flamethrowers.
THEM! (Warner Brothers, 1954) was one of the first giant bug feature films, as well as one of the first in a long list of "nuclear monster" movies. I was enthralled by the story when I first saw it on TV, and when the little girl is given the whiff of formic acid and wakes up screaming, well, that scared me!