Except in Them! (and other less prominent giant mutation films), the ant is not really a suitable subject for monster films. They’re too small. But the interesting thing about ants — particularly the ones that gather into vast hordes, like the South American Army Ant — is that what they individually lack in size they make up for in collective rapaciousness.
So in a way, ant hordes — acting via a sort of gestalt consciousness — may indeed be thought of a giant monster.
Consider, for example, the classic 1938 short story by Carl Stephenson, “Leiningen versus the Ants” (which you can read online, if you’re not familiar with it) and its cinematic incarnation The Naked Jungle (US-1954; dir. Byron Haskin), which starred Charlton Heston as the man who takes up arms against the composite monster seeking to devour everything in its path.
Just completed and looking for a home in a few good festivals is a new film about hordes of ants — Invicta (US-2009; dir. Carolyn Banks).
The title Invicta refers to the scientific name of the relevant species — The Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta). Invicta is one of over 280 species of Solenopsis, or Fire Ant — a particularly pesky import that originated in South America but has become a nuisance in places as diverse as in the southern United States, Australia, Taiwan, Philippines, and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and has hence become the target of largely ineffectual eradication campaigns.
According to the official website, the film is a blend of comedy, romance and horror, a genre that writer-director Carolyn Banks calls “Horror Tra-La.”
As the tagline describes it: “Love, greed and fire ants mix it up in rural Texas”.
Filmed almost entirely in Bastrop, Texas, the rough cut of Invicta “looks fabulous,” according to Banks, who added, “and since it was our first movie, I was prepared for the worst.” Banks has published novels and written and directed several shorts, but reckons:
“… a feature is a whole other animal. It involves juggling people and props and keeping everyone fed and in the right clothes and at the right place at the right time.” Also, she says, “moviemaking always comes across as so glamorous, but it’s hard, hard work both while you’re shooting it and afterward. Especially afterward.” (Upstartbastrop.com)
Oh, and apparently post-production effects are being handled by Craig M. Staggs, known in Hollywood as an animator on 2006’s A Scanner Darkly and in other SFX capacities.
Hopefully we’ll hear more of this film soon. Meanwhile, read an interview with Banks on the film’s website and check the gallery below for more pictures from the production.