Released in 2017 under the name Dead Ant, Giant Killer Ants is probably a more apt title for a movie that promises ant-related high-jinks, comedy, nudity and gore.
It delivers the ants and some of the rest but ultimately is nothing but a half-hearted forgettable comedy horror. More memorable for who is actually in it rather then what they do.
Written by Hank Braxton and directed by Ron Carlson (who also contributed to the screenplay), we have a pretty interesting cast. We have Tom Arnold, Sean Astin, Jake Busey, Rhys Coiro, Leisha Hailey and for all you Twin Peaks fans, Michael Horse. What a mix of actors!
Giant Killer Ants is a throwback to the monster movies of old and plays up to that fact both in visual style, the campy story and performances.
The movie opens with a young woman buying some sort of spiritual drug from an old Native American (Michael Horse). In between their conversation we see her running for her life in the desert being pursued by a humongous ant. For reasons, she strips of her bikini until she is fully nude then seems to give up running, resigning herself to her fate.
We’re then introduced to the ageing has-been glam rock band, Sonic Grave. They’re on their way to Nochella, hipper and way more underground then Coachella, according to their manager, Danny (Tom Arnold). He’s desperate for them to get back to the big time and is constantly pushing them to write more music.
Lead singer, Merrick (Jake Busey) just wants to live off what made them famous (a power ballad) whereas guitarist Pager (Rhys Coiro) is trying to move them in a more serious direction. They can’t quite agree on what direction to go in but that’s not important right now. You see, Danny has the bright idea of picking up drugs and spending the night in the wilderness. All so the band can get in tune with themselves and be inspired to write.
Those drugs are picked up by drummer, Stevie (Leisha Hailey) and bass player, Art (Sean Astin in an awful wig). Before they leave though they are given a dire warning. While under the influence of the drug do not harm a living soul on the land. If they do, the ramifications will be severe.
The duo meets up with the rest of the band and while Art is checking out the desert, he gets bitten by an ant. Frustrated, he attempts to drown it in his urine but realises he may have screwed up when the ant talks to him.
The ants are pissed and they plan to get their revenge on every member of Sonic Grave. Will they be able to survive the onslaught of killer ants and make the show?
Giant Killer Ants is fun, provided you see it for what it is. A low-budget slapstick monster movie that is playing it all for laughs. The story is fine, it plays out smartly enough and ends in a silly, over the top way. The acting is fine, no-one tries too hard but no-one drops the ball either. Most seem to be having fun. With Tom Arnold in particular being almost gleeful with the delivery of some of his lines.
The characters are very basic and loose but they have good chemistry and it’s believable they have been together for years and years. Even the ant CGI is fine, neither good nor bad.
Where the movie fails is with its comedy and gore. It tries too hard to force a joke in when it just wasn’t needed. Other times the joke is right there, ready to be used but the movie avoids it missing a golden opportunity to get a laugh. Most of the time, it will only get the occasional wry smile as a character says something particularly witty.
Then we have the gore. After a pretty nasty death for one of the band members, that is about it really. Sure, one character loses his hands to the ants but the choppy editing and obvious prosthetic sees it lose its value. Then just when it seemed we might get a bloodbath as the ants descend on Nochella, we just don’t. We see the aftermath, kind of, but those hoping for a torrent of blood and guts will be very disappointed.
Those two points really diminish the fun factor of the movie overall. Meaning rather then a good monster movie, Killer Giant Ants is nothing more then an OK monster movie.
Giant Killer Ants
The Final Score - 5/10