Blu-ray Review: Empire of the Ants & Jaws of Satan

Snakes and ants are creatures that aren’t quite in the same class. People are scared of snakes. They are merely annoyed by ants. But in the hands of an exploitation director, both creatures can become a threat to human existence. Empire of the Ants and Jaws of Satan is a double feature guaranteed to make you call an extreme exterminator when you fears something pest invading your house.

Empire of the Ants is Bert I. Gordon going back to H.G. Wells’ Food of the Gods for the third time. Of course a triple dip can be fully excused since he cast Joan Collins (Dynasty) as part of the cast of normal size humans that must contend with huge ants. She wasn’t looking for them. She was merely part of a real estate scam where people are shown lots in a future remote beach front subdivision. What she and others don’t know is that nearby toxic waste has been getting dumped off shore. The containers have washed up on the beach. Ants love gooey sticky stuff so naturally they eat it. This causes them to not merely grow to huge sizes, but maintain their super intellect. It’s like they’re tracking down Joan Collins, Robert Pine (CHiPs) and their friends. Bert I. Gordon once more has fun with his huge critter special effects. The ants eat people. This film just begs to be watched right before going off for a picnic.

Jaws of Satan has the unique ability to have a title and ad campaign that attaches it to three different exploitation hits. First there’s Jaws even though it has no sharks on the screen. Secondly there’s The Exorcist which makes sense since there two priests believing they’re combating the devil in the scaly flesh. Finally there’s Sssssss with the King Cobra snake action. This movie dares to scare you on all levels. The film does have the proper level of spooks when a king cobra escapes a train and lands in a small Southern town. The local preacher fears the massive snake is really just a manifestation of Satan. He’s not happy with just calling a 10 foot high mongoose. He’s got to exorcise the reptile. Doesn’t hurt that the giant snake is getting the smaller ones to do his bidding in attacking the humans. Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park) shot the movie so it looks so nice. He makes his camera slither for the snake POV shots. Cundey is the real star at making the action happen on the screen.

This is a fine creature double feature. The big bonus is another chance to glimpse Joan Collins in HD beauty. She’s just perfect when she has to face off with a giant insect. Jaws of Satan might seem like the grandfather of all those mega-snake movies that end up on SyFy except there’s a bit more depth to the action. Whether they have six legs or no legs, these oversized pests are going to do more than ruin your picnic.

The video is 1:78:1 anamorphic. Both films look stunning on the HDTV even with the sometimes campy effects. The audio DTS-HD mono soundtracks are fine when the pests attack. Both movies are subtitled.

Commentary with Bert I. Gordon lets him discuss working with Joan Collins. He’s not quite as talkative as imagined.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19) pushes the H.G. Wells angle. H.G. Wells would have loved this film.

Radio Spot (1:00) makes this movie sound more literate than a drive-in film deserves.

Photo Gallery (3:12) gives us more angles of Joan Collins.

Theatrical Trailer (1:51) has the title King Cobra. There’s a lot of snake shadows.

Empire of the Ants & Jaws of Satan are prime “when unnaturally huge animals attack” flicks.A worthy double feature on a day when it’s too rainy for a church picnic.

Scream Factory presents Empire of the Ants & Jaws of Satan. Directed by: Bert I. Gordon & Bob Claver. Starring: Joan Collins, Robert Pine and Fritz Weaver. Rated: PG & R. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 Blu-ray. Released: May 26, 2015.

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