It was on this day in 1954 that one of the most important monster movies most people have never heard of was released: “Them!” (note the exclamation mark in the title) featured giant irradiated ants, James Arness, the Wilhelm Scream, Fess Parker, Leonard Nimoy and more! Plus: science has determined how to give the perfect hug, so start practicing.
11 Fun Facts About Them! (Mental Floss)
Today is the release date of perhaps the most important monster movie most people have never heard of: it’s called “Them!” And yes, the exclamation point is part of the title.
“Them!” came out today in 1954, and was one of the first movies of the giant-horrifying-creature-runs-amok-somewhere genre we all know about now.
In this case the giant horrifying creatures were irradiated ants that grew many times their size.
In the days before computer-based special effects, the movie makers created mechanical ants to show up on screen.
One of them was so large that it took a whole crew to operate all the mechanical parts and make its limbs move.
Trouble was, they were all working right up next to each other, and as they pulled the giant ants’ cables, they’d clonk into each other.
They also used puppets and model ants that were made to “move” thanks to off-screen wind machines.
The movie is also notable for helping launch the careers of two actors who went on to some pretty acclaimed roles.
One was Fess Parker, whose single scene in “Them!” helped him land the starring role in the hit TV series “Davy Crockett.”
The other had a small role as a military officer who finds all the talk of flying saucers and giant ants attacking things highly illogical.
He was Leonard Nimoy, who of course would go on to play Mr. Spock on “Star Trek,” among many other accomplishments.
“Them!” also featured a character who shouted for someone to “make me a sergeant in charge of the booze! Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze!”
And it was also one of the first movies to feature a sound effect used in innumerable movies. It’s called the Wilhelm Scream, and telling the story of that sound would require its own entire podcast.
Now: who wants a hug?
Researchers at Toho University in Japan have discovered the perfect hug, at least the perfect hug as infants see it.
They used pressure sensors on adults and heart rate monitors on babies to see which hugs calmed the little ones down the most.
Medium pressure, 20 seconds is good, and hugs from parents and primary caregivers go over better than those from strangers.