This is as good as a giant, radioactive ant movie is likely to get. Like Godzilla, Them! springs from social unease. When huge marauding creatures start appearing in the New Mexico desert, the expert scientist on hand – don’t you love how these movies always have expert scientists on hand? – immediately explains that they are the result of underground nuclear testing. As if the bomb didn’t have enough drawbacks. Them! opens with a scene that is far more subtle and unnerving than its title would ever indicate. Two cops patrolling the New Mexico highway come across a young girl wandering through the desert in a traumatized daze. From there, director Gordon Douglas slowly builds suspense until we finally see … them! Special effects are not the movie’s strong suit. Though the creatures give off a piercing, cicada-like noise, they look more like loosely connected Styrofoam balls with unruly mustaches for antennae. The black-and-white production design is far more impressive, especially in an ant queen’s foggy, egg-strewn chamber, which must have inspired a similar setting in Aliens. There also is a climax in the Los Angeles sewer system that may have been lifted from the iconic chase scene featuring Orson Welles in 1949’s The Third Man. Along the way, Them! proceeds like a police procedural, with that scientist (Edmund Gwenn) delivering occasional ant tutorials while leading a hunt for two queens that have flown from New Mexico to start new nests. You wouldn’t think an ant the size of a 1954 Buick would be able to hide so stealthily, but that’s just another one of the silly pleasures of Them!