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The Deadly Mantis


Title: The Deadly Mantis
Year Of Release: 1957
Running Time: 79 minutes
DVD Released By: Universal
Directed By: Nathan Juran
Writing Credits: Martin Berkeley (screenplay), William Alland (story)

Starring: Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Alix Talton
Taglines:
1. This Was the Day That Engulfed the World in Terror!
2. The most dangerous monster that ever lived!
3. Out of a million years ago ... a thousand tons of horror!
4. A Thousand Tons of Horror! From A Million Years Ago ...
Alternate Titles:
1. The Giant Mantis
2. The Incredible Praying Mantis

Review Date: 5.1.16

Shadow's Title: "A Giant Bug's Life"

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DVD
The Deadly Mantis

 The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volume 2

 The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Vols. 1 & 2

Characters
Colonel Joe Parkman – He runs an Air force installation in the arctic that is one of the centers for monitoring radar across the polar region, in case those Russkies try and launch a sneak attack. He’s a real hands on type of commander, investigating things himself rather than sending a lackey. He soon has plenty to look into: missing men, ruined weather stations and downed aircraft. What could be behind all the trouble?
Major General Mark Ford – When weird shit starts to happen in the arctic and a strange object is found in the wreckage of a C47, Colonel Parkman alerts this guy to all the odd occurrences. Ford here takes the strange object and gives it to a whole bunch of scientists in Washington to examine. Alas, they have no idea what the thing is or what is going on…which is typical for any authority in Washington.
Professor Anton Gunther – He was the spokesman for the scientists called in to examine Colonel Parkman’s mystery object, which resembles a hook-like appendage from a living creature. He and the others cannot identify what animal that it may be from and suggest a possibly unknown species. He suggests that General Ford call in paleontologist Dr. Ned Jackson to help.
Dr. Ned Jackson – He works at the Museum of Natural History in Washington as the head paleontologist. An expert at taking old bones and then piecing together a complete organism, the military hopes he can figure out what type of animal the hook-like object may be from. This he eventually does, realizing that the hook is just a small leg spur from a gigantic praying mantis.
Marge Blaine – She works at the museum with Ned Jackson, running the monthly magazine produced by the museum. She manages to talk her way into Ned’s dealings with the military, posing as his photographer. This allows her to meet Colonel Parkman. The two seem instantly smitten with one another. She also gets up and close with the giant mantis more than once, which allows her to scream like a banshee.
Corporal Dork – He was part of Colonel Parkman’s command and hadn’t seen a woman in months. No, that wasn’t his real name. He was only referred to by rank, but the constant goofball expression on his face, coupled with his demeanor and inability to ask Marge to dance without stuttering and stammering like a pimply-faced 17-year old trying to ask a girl to the prom, earned him this nickname.
The Deadly Mantis – A giant insect from some time in earth’s prehistoric past when bugs were truly huge. It was flash frozen in ice and lay dormant for millions of years until a volcanic eruption caused the ice to break away, unleashing it upon the modern world. All the cans of Raid and Black Flag in the entire nation aren’t going to be a bit of help against this thing.
The CLOWN Continuously Lurking Omniscient Wearisome Narrator. Genre movies from the 50’s were loaded with them. His voice pops up numerous times during the first eighteen minutes in order to explain things for the morons in the audience…whom the filmmakers thought was everyone it seems. His constant interruption makes it seem like one is watching a documentary rather than a monster flick.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Not to be confused with “The Deadly Mathis” the latest album from Johnny Mathis.Things get to a good start with a rousing musical theme from the Universal archives as the Universal International logo is shown. Seriously, I think I’ve heard this music more than once before. Then we are shown a map of the world, one of those flat maps that are way out of scale, since this one shows Greenland to be about the same size as South America. Slowly we zoom in towards North America (which is centered on the map, thus forcing Asia to be bisected and split between the left and right sides of the screen, cuz damnit! We cannot show the good ole U.S. of A. as being anywhere except the center of the entire freaking universe) and then slowly drift down so that we’re looking at some little speck of an island not that far north of Antarctica in the south Atlantic ocean. Suddenly, several stock footage shots of a volcanic eruption now explode across the screen.

Even worse, something more horrifying than the volcano now erupts: a CLOWN. What’s a CLOWN you ask? Well, it is a Continuously Lurking Omniscient Wearisome Narrator. You know the type…they chime in unexpectedly, more often than not at a film’s beginning, to impart some piece of obscure arcana that the film’s producers thought was vital information relevant to the movie’s story. This is usually comprised of references to some past event involving atomic bombs, twisting known scientific principles into near unrecognizable technobable to better fit the movie’s ideas or just prattling on aimlessly about a whole lot of nothing. CLOWNs have been known to interject their often near incoherent ramblings into the film in question at all manner of junctures – the beginning, throughout the middle as well as the end. In essence, they represent the producer’s contempt for the audience, personifying their efforts to explain things for the idiots the filmmakers perceive the audience to be (and often they are quite right). Thusly, CLOWNs infest B-Movies from the 1950’s at only a marginally lower degree than white trash at your local Walmart.

Of course CLOWNs are not to be confused with another breed of annoying narrator – the type that physically shows up in the film, usually only once and at the very beginning. Most times they are located within a laboratory or library of some kind and lecture the audience on all manner of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, occasionally opening a book or playing with their nearby chemistry sets in order to stress a point. These narrators are known as a PAIN or Pontificating Attendant Irksome Narrator. There is of course that rare specimen that is a mixture of the two breeds, but they are so seldom seen and heard that a name has yet to be coined for them.

Oddly enough, I recognize that CLOWN voice. It’s the same CLOWN that narrated the last movie I reviewed, King Dinosaur. Why this CLOWN is none other than Marvin Miller who was also the voice of Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956), The Invisible Boy (1957) and Gremlins (1984). He also seems to have performed CLOWN duties and voiceover work on dozens and dozens of films and television shows before his death in 1985.

Anyway, the CLOWN says, “For every action…there is an equal and opposite reaction.” We get another view of the map again. Now we pull back from the tiny south Atlantic island and then slowly pan up to the North Pole. More stock footage is rolled out, this time of a glacier calving – which is what it is called when gigantic chunks of ice break off and fall into the sea. Alas, something is revealed to be frozen in the ice – a giant mantis! Cue up the title card, music and opening credits.

So in the usual fashion of so many monster/sci-fi flicks form the 50’s, we now get inundated with a barrage of stock footage shots, while the CLOWN sets up the movie. The first thing we see is a shot of a spinning radar dish and for fleeting second, I thought I might be going mad and about to flashback to Fiend Without A Face, but the dish is quickly replaced by stock footage of radar technicians as they monitor their screens and plot aircraft movements on those clear boards they love to use. After that, lots of stock shots of radar installations, planes, radar dishes and ships; all to help convey what the CLOWN will be talking about.

The CLOWN chimes in: “Radar, designed to defend us against attack. Radar stations on mountaintops, in deserts, deep in untracked forests. In a thousand secret and isolated places. Over both oceans there are radar-equipped picket planes. In both oceans, man-made radar islands to guard our flanks. There are the in-shore pickets, and several hundred miles beyond them, are the offshore pickets.”

Now we are shown a map of the northern section of North America before the CLOWN continues.

Okay, everyone pay attention as there will be a test later.“Another radar fence stretches across the long, unfortified border between the United States and Canada. The Pine Tree radar fence.” A line appears on the map, running pretty even with the 50° N latitude line. “And beyond that, still another network of electronic eyes, the Mid-Canada radar fence.” Now a line appears even with the 60° N latitude line. “Even farther north, in the very shadow of the north pole, this fence, the Distant Early Warning System known as the DEW line ready to transmit the first warning signal of a sneak attack across the polar regions.” Now a third line appears…you guessed it, even with the 70° N latitude line.

“To build the DEW line, an armada of ships was assembled in the largest and most secretly planned operation since the Normandy invasion, grinding through treacherous polar ice fields, in a desperate gamble against time and weather, to land a mountain of supplies, machines, tractors and men upon the ice.” Lots of shots of ships cutting though the ice and then we see the army corps of engineers as they begin grading and excavating the landscape.

“First things first. Level landing strips for heavy cargo planes.” Personally, I would have thought that one of the first things would be to set up restrooms and a commissary. Without places to eat, shower and shit, I don’t think much else is going to get done. Let’s just hope that the workers do the right one in the proper location. No one needs to be subjected to some fat guy dropping trow and crapping into a bucket right in the middle of dinner because he got lost.

“Then, shelters for the men, for the planes, and for operations. And while some hands are busy laying long pipelines to transport fuel, others build tanks to store it. The work continues day and night, around the clock, seven days a week.” Now we get plenty of shots of men constructing various things, most seemingly in a cold environment, as we see snow in most of them. One can only hope that the government has provided for all these guys working so far from home. I just don’t mean providing food and lodging. It gets cold and lonely in the arctic. These guys need some women!

“At long last the ships are gone, the summer is gone, but the job is finished. Red Eagle 1, sentinel of the Arctic, nerve center of the DEW line, is operational.” Oh crap. Does that mean that they will now have to launch a series of flights in order to calibrate the entire radar system? If so, I hope they don’t get some smartass civilian to do it. That would be bad luck. It would also be a different giant monster movie entirely.

We are shown a plane landing at this arctic outpost and a Colonel Parkman disembarking.

Now, I hope that you did not think that because one of the film’s main characters was just introduced, that the CLOWN was gone. You would be wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. He continues: “Across the roof of the continent, still farther north, an outpost of the DEW line.” We see a small installation that sits atop a rocky ridge. Inside are the two men that drew the bad luck to be posted to this remote location, going about their normal routine – which is probably bemoaning their crappy jobs and dreaming about naked women and booze.. One guy spots something on the radar and calls his buddy over to have a look. There is a strange moment when we see a moving shadow on the back wall that does not appear to belong to either man. That must one freaky place! As the two stare at the screen they begin to hear a loud droning sound which gets louder and louder. Suddenly the building starts falling apart around them. Fade out. Something tells me that those two poor bastards won’t ever again be worrying about the next time they’ll get their hands on some naked women and booze.

Later a picket plane flies overhead and notices that the building looks caved in. They try to contact the place – designated as Weather 4 – but there is no reply. The pilot radios this news back to base and to Colonel Parkman in particular. They try to contact Weather 4 from there, but again there is no answer. With no other alternative, Parkman decides to go take a look himself. He and the pilot of the rescue plane fly out to Weather 4 to determine the cause of the radio silence.

Naturally, when they arrive the place is a mess, looking like a motel room in Ft. Lauderdale after spring break. The place is in ruins and there is no sign of the two men that were posted there. The building appears as if something big had hit it, causing the sides to bow out, but again, there is no sign of anything nearby that could have caused it. The odd thing to be found is a pair of long parallel tracks in the snow. One end of each track appears to have a trident-like shape to it.

The thing that I find to be odd is that every aerial shot of Weather 4 that we have seen so far has shown it to be located atop a ridge. However, now we can see the rescue plane parked just outside and when we saw it landing, it was setting down on a wide valley floor. WTF?

Later back at the base, Parkman is trying to solve this mystery when another pops up. A radar technician notices a strange blip that seems to appear, vanish then appear again. Not taking any chances, Parkman orders a red alert. Jets are scrambled to intercept the unidentified bogey. Naturally, this means lots more stock footage rolled out for our benefit. The jets don’t find anything and are recalled to base.

“This is your captain speaking, we’ll be reaching the half…way…poi…er...zzzzzzzzz.”Elsewhere, a C-47 is cruising along when the pilot hears that same droning sound from earlier. He wakes his snoozing co-pilot just as the plane starts to shake, as if something large had grabbed it. There is the sound of breaking glass and some guy who was standing in the back of the plane, now comes falling into the cockpit, his head all bloody. As the two pilots struggle to control the vehicle, the screen fades out.

Again, stock footage jets are scrambled to locate the missing plane. Once found, Colonel Parkman again takes a trip with the rescue pilot to the scene of the crash. I can see that the Colonel is a very hands-on type of commanding officer. Hasn’t he ever heard of delegating? You’d think he would not have achieved his rank without realizing that you have to delegate things to subordinates, if only to have someone to take the blame and get court martialed when things go wrong.

At the crash site they find strange tracks in the snow just like at the weather shack. They also find no signs of any of the men aboard the C-47, deepening the mystery. What they do find is really strange: an object about five feet long that tapers to a point as sharp as a needle. The opposite end appears to have been broken off something even larger, but what that may be is still unknown. The object is taken back to base where everyone can look at it and wonder what it is. When asked what their next step may be, Parkman says that they will have to let CONAD know about it. What do Italian grocery stores have to do with it?

He’s back! Yes, the CLOWN returns. You didn’t think he was gone did you? Ha! “This is CONAD, the Continental Air Defense Command at Colorado Springs, the focal point of the supersonic shield that guards the North American continent, a shield that could mean the difference between life and death for millions of Americans.” It should be noted that the establishing shot of the CONAD building seems to be stock footage of a castle! Yes, a big, huge castle with crenellated rooftops and everything. Actually, it looks more like the style for large federal prisons that were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It just does not look like an important military hub of any kind.

Inside, we are shown four telephones lined up on a desk, each one a different color. “These are hot phones. Using them it takes only 15 seconds to talk to Alaska, 10 seconds to alert Newfoundland, 5 seconds to contact DEW, 3 seconds to reach the Pentagon command post.” Yeah, but the really important question is, how long does it take to contact the local Pizza Hut and get a large with extra pepperoni delivered? The last phone rings and a General Ford answer it, almost is if he was sitting there, waiting for the call. He notes that the arctic command has delivered “the package” and that he will be taking a plane right out.

The next thing we know, after an establishing shot of the Pentagon, Ford is talking to a room full of scientists, who have had two days to determine what the strange object found in the arctic may be. A Professor Gunther is their spokesman. In a nutshell, the scientists haven’t a clue. They all agree that the object comes from a living creature of some type, but what that creature may be is an answer that has eluded them. General Ford finds that illogical. To him it should be simple. The object was not part of the C-47 cargo, so it had to have been placed in the wreckage after it crashed. Given the animal life of the region, it should be easy to determine what creature the “hook” came from. Alas, the scientists suggest that it may be from an unknown species of animal and they suggest that the Air Force enlist the help of Dr. Nedrick Jackson of the Museum of Natural History. As a paleontologist, he has been able to reconstruct entire creatures after starting with nothing more than a handful of bones.

We cut over to the Museum, where Marge Blaine is entering Dr. Jackson’s office. She works for a magazine (presumably some publication produced monthly by the museum) and wants to go over some things with Jackson. That will have to wait, for long about now, the phone rings. It’s General Ford, asking Ned to come to the pentagon to examine what they have found. Ned leaves immediately.

At the Pentagon, Ned determines that the hook is not made of bone, but rather cartilage. This rules out any animal, as everyone known species of animal has a bony skeleton. Through a long discussion of various things, Ned narrows down the list of suspect organisms to the insect kingdom. Professor Gunther will run another test on the blood with this in mind to determine if that may be the case. Meanwhile, Ned returns to the museum where Marge is using a camera the size of a small suitcase to snap photos of bones on display (isn’t she worried about her flash reflecting off the glass?).

Marge follows Jackson into his office and takes a look at the newspaper he discards. The headline reads, Polar Tragedies Revealed – Air Force Discloses Mysterious Crashes and Disappearances. Being a journalist (even if she runs a museum magazine) she can out put two and two together and figure out that this is why the Pentagon wanted to see him. She begs and pleads with him until he spills the beans and explains the situation to her. He makes a quick drawing of the object and she notes that it looks like a spur off the leg of a grasshopper or cricket. Since neither of those are meat eaters and five men in total have vanished, he discounts those. He begins to describe the long skid marks in the snow, as if something large had come in for a landing, but the phone rings before he can get any further. Professor Gunther has completed the blood tests and has confirmed that the object is from an insect.

“Showing me how cheesy your lines are in the script doesn’t make your delivery any better.”Ned’s hastily drawn plans for his Mantisman cosplay costume.The next thing we see is Professor Gunther himself at the museum, talking to Ned and Marge. Ned is explaining how insects in prehistoric times were quite large and maybe this is what they are dealing with in the present day. Marge asks how such an ancient creature could still be alive and Gunther even cites how the Siberian mammoths found perfectly preserved were still quite dead before being carved up for steaks. Ned espouses his theory that the mammoths may have been alive and were inadvertently killed by the eskimos before they could thaw out properly. While Gunther agrees that in theory it is possible to freeze a living organism so quickly that it can be preserved alive, he doesn’t believe Ned’s idea and is looking more and more like he is considering Ned to be off his proverbial rocker.

Ned pushes his idea, again citing how five men have vanished. Since there are no bodies or any remains to recover, it suggests complete destruction. He thinks they were consumed by a flesh eating creature. He brings up the strange hook-like object and explains that rather than trying to find an existing creature that it fits, to think of it in terms of known insects. He says to imagine it much smaller and then asks what flesh-eating insect of normal size has such a hook. He has already narrowed the field down to one. He opens a book and shows an illustration to the others. “This cute little bug?” Marge asks. After Ned describes the creature in question, we finally get to see what everyone is looking at. “In all the kingdom of the living,” he says, “there is no more deadly or voracious creature than the praying mantis.”

Quick! It’s time for some stock footage! We return to the arctic, where we are subjected to lots and lots of footage of Eskimos. The loud buzzing sound that we’ve heard twice before fills the air and the locals all exit their huts and stare into the sky, slack jawed in horror and shock. They point at whatever they see and then someone gives the word to quietly evacuate the premises and suddenly it’s a free for all as they all run like hell to get in their kayaks and start rowing away like mad. Never once do I see a woman with a child paddling away, so it must be only the men that are bailing. Even the hundreds of dogs they have are being left behind. Now, I figure that this footage was taken from some other film or documentary and just squeezed into this movie with the buzzing sound added in, but it sure does make it look like all the Eskimo men are colossal assholes that leave their women, children and dogs behind to be devoured by a giant monster.

What giant monster you ask? That’s right, until now we haven’t seen any monster, giant or otherwise. But that is about to change. As two guys grab their kayaks (in footage that was obviously filmed for this movie as it does not match any other shot of Eskimos that we’ve seen so far) from the primitive rack used to store them, they turn and they (and we) see the giant mantis in question. It topples the rack over on the two. One manages to get to his feet and scramble away, but the other guy does the usual thing that so many people in these old monster movies do…he stands there, mouth agape in horror and just stares at the monster and screams as it closes in to gobble him up. Fade out. I want to know if the mantis only ate that one guy. Did it chase down and eat the guy that ran away? What about all the women, children and dogs that got left behind? Did it eat any of them? I suppose plenty of people and canines met grisly ends in the jaws of the beast, but the horror of all that would be too intense for a movie from this period to show on screen.

In Washington, the press is swarming the office of General Ford, who has been meeting with Ned Jackson. One reporter can be seen reading a newspaper with the headline Greenland Eskimos Terrorized. When Ford and Ned emerge from the former’s office, the reporters ask questions, wanting any information that they can get, even wondering why Jackson, as a paleontologist, is being called in. Of course, the general refuses to answer their questions and as Jackson departs, wishes him luck.

It seems Ned is heading north to help the Air Force in their investigations. We see him next at the museum, packing a couple suitcases. Marge drops by to see him off. As they leave his office, he notices more bags piled up outside. It seems Marge phoned General Ford and got permission for Ned to take his photographer along. And guess who that would be? Yup, she’s wormed her way into Ned’s trip to the arctic. I know these two are not married and are just work acquaintances, and I know that this is a serious trip and not a leisurely excursion, but I know more than one man out there will testify on how a woman will just not let him go anywhere alone if she can help it.

Stock footage shows us that Marge and Ned arrive at Red Eagle 1 base. Corporal Dork (not his real name, naturally, but the credits never provide one for him, thus my own assigned appellation) informs Colonel Parkman that Ned has arrived and is all flustered at the fact that Marge came along. “He’s with a woman,” Corporal Dork says, “A female woman. I thought they’d stopped making them.” I suppose he and all the other guys up here have not seen a woman in quite some time. With a big grin, Corporal Dork shows Ned and Marge in to see Parkman. Ned introduces himself, but Parkman cannot seem to take his eyes off of Marge, so he introduces Parkman to Marge. A sizable group of men have gathered to drool over Marge, but the Colonel shoos them all away.

Without wasting any time, Parkman flies Ned and Marge to the site of the C-47 crash. Unknown to them, the mantis watches the plane from a hiding place deep in a rocky ravine. At the wreckage, Parkman shows them the strange skid marks and notes that they found the same marks at the weather shack and the Eskimo village.

“Geez, Marge…did you have to use the 10,000 watt flash bulb? I can’t see shit now.”That last bit is really telling. It implies that not a single Eskimo survived. Surely, if any of them had managed to escape, they would have conveyed to someone that a giant monster had wandered into their village and begun dining on the locals. The fact that the Air Force still has no visual confirmation of the mantis nor any idea of exactly how big it may be would imply that no one survived the attack on the Eskimo village to make such a report. Then again, maybe nobody speaks their language and any survivors were just babbling on and on in a language no one understood.

Anyway, Ned measures the distance between the two skid marks and comes up with eight and a half feet. Not ones to loiter, they get back in their plane and head back to base. We see the spot whee' the mantis was hiding, but it is no longer there.

That night at the base must be 'act like a damn fool' night, as the boys have a record playing and are dancing around the rec hall like drunken fools. Then again, they very well could be drunken fools. With no ladies around, they are forced to dance with each other. I don’t even want to know what else they may be doing together because of all the Y chromosomes in the place. As the boys whoop it up, Parkman and Marge enter. Instantly all the men turn their attention to her. It’s like watching a pack of dogs staring at a package of steaks. They seem utterly transfixed. Corporal Dork manages in a clumsy, stuttering mess, to ask Marge to dance. He leads her to the dance floor.

As the frivolity continues inside, outside the giant mantis is slowly closing in on the base…well, closing in on the miniature set meant to represent the base. In an office, Ned is going over notes, trying to determine the size of the beast, oblivious to the fact that it is cozying up by the building right outside. The door opens and Marge and Parkman enter to see why he hasn’t joined them in the rec room. As he talks about the potential size of the creature Marge walks over to examine some things on a shelf, a large window right next to her. Outside the window we can clearly see the mantis as it gets closer and closer.

Marge asks why no one has seen the creature if it is truly as large as Ned thinks it to be. He replies by saying that all who have seen are dead. This would seemingly confirm the death of that entire Eskimo village. Imagine all those guys paddling their kayaks like mad, trying to get away and the giant mantis leisurely flying out over the water to snatch them up in its jaws, like they were easily accessible snacks laid out on a platter for it.

As Ned talks about the mantis being frozen in ice for millions of years and being released by some sort of vibration (like a volcanic eruption in the south Atlantic ocean), Marge finally turns and notices the giant mantis right outside the window, which has now gotten so close, all you can see are just parts of its enormous head and compound eyes. Naturally, her response is to let out a scream that could wake the dead in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps annoyed with this screaming mimi as much as I am, the mantis now attacks the building, trying to get to the tasty morsels inside. Ned, Marge and Parkman haul ass out the door and down the hall.

The alert is sounded and everyone on base scrambles to get to their assigned positions. Two guys rush outside to confront the mantis, one armed with a heavy assault rifle and the other with a flame thrower. Neither does much good. The two run and dive for cover behind some barrels as the mantis takes flight- the loud droning sound filling the air – and buzzes by them. Stock footage jets take to the skies to combat the beast, but the creature has seemingly disappeared.

Nine hours later and there is still no sign of the mantis. Colonel Dork passes out cups of coffee to the tired personnel, his interest in Marge forgotten. The patrol planes want to return to base, but Parkman denies their request and has them keep at their patrols.

We see the mantis flying over the ocean and then spy a small fishing boat. Two guys on the aft deck hear the creature’s droning and look up to see the monster closing in on them. Inside the wheelhouse, the captain , hears the other two screaming and then rushes out on deck after securing the wheel. He arrives to find a big mess, ropes and nets torn and thrown about, equipment strewn all over, but no sign of his two crewmen. Nope, those two just got eaten alive. He looks in horror as the mantis flies away (horror because now he is going to have to pull in those heavy-ass fishing nets all by himself).

Back at the Red Eagle 1 base, a report has come in from the Mid-Canada radar fence. They had something on their scopes that seemed to come and go. Thinking it might be the mantis, they reported it. The funny thing is, the Canadian officer almost has an English accent! Considering how far away they are and the time they spotted the mantis, they calculate how fast it is moving. Factoring in the locations of all the known attacks and sightings, and it is obvious that the mantis is heading due south in search of warmer climates. Another radar sighting comes in from the Pine Tree radar line. The creature is definitely heading south. Ned, Marge and Parkman prepare to head to Washington.

Sadly sequel plans, entitled Mantis vs Mothra: Giant Bug Wars, failed to reach fruition.We see the mantis flying over the ocean again and a montage of newspaper headlines assaults us. Mantis Reported Over Bangor claims the Maine Herald. Curfew Ordered In New Orleans screams the New Orleans Globe. Congressman Calls Mantis “Hoax” says the Washington Observer. Rally Against Apathy Draws Small Crowd proclaims the Boston Bell Ringer. Okay, I made that last one up.

Now we see a television announcer, sitting at a desk and surrounded by microphones. He introduces General Ford who assures people that the mantis is not a hoax. Ford in turn introduces Colonel Parkman, who relates his own encounter with the mantis and then assures that the Civilian Ground Observer Corps will spot the creature next time it appears. Parkman now introduces Ned Jackson who shows off the mantis spur recovered from the C-47 wreckage. He uses it to illustrate how big the creature is. Parkman takes over again and shows an enlarged photo of a mantis. He compares this to a model of a C-47 so that everyone on the ground will know what to look for and how big it is. I really don’t think using that model was necessary. Given the creature’s size, no one is going to overlook it or mistake it for something else. Parkman reminds everyone to listen for the loud droning sound that the mantis produces.

We now get shots of people in various places – on beaches, in watchtowers and on ships at sea – all staring into the sky, watching for the mantis. Either that or the return of vegetable men from outer space that Ned Scott warned us about back in 1951. At long last the creature is spotted and a squadron of jets launch from an aircraft carrier to intercept the monster. This of course means even more stock footage. They shoot missiles at the mantis, but the mantis vanishes below the cloud layer after being hit. A kill cannot be confirmed.

At the pentagon, Ned and Marge plot on a map the locations of any strange events happening around the nation, like a granary fire in Minneapolis, power lines down near Richmond, an earth slide in Fresno (how can you have an earth slide in a city that is surrounded by hundreds of miles of farm land?) and a balanced city budget in Stockton. Okay, again I made up that last one, but it sure would be a strange thing in today’s world. Marge is tired and cannot locate Fresno. Parkman and Ford walk in and the Colonel tells her it is in California. She lights right up when she sees him. Uh oh. Romantic subplot on standby. Seeing how it is after midnight, General Ford orders them all home for rest. Parkman decides he will take Marge home.

Marge must be pooped, because she falls asleep on Parkman’s shoulder as he drives her home through the fog. She perks right up when a report over the radio on a nearby train crash is heard. Seeing as how the location is just a few miles away, she and Parkman decide to have a look. They arrive at the scene, but it appears to just be a normal, mundane accident, with no giant insects involved. They get back in the car and drive away, oblivious to huge claw mark in the dirt nearby.

When stopped at a traffic light, the colonel puts the car in park and then turns to Marge, ready to put a few moves on her (don’t ask what he wants to put in her, we all know the answer to that one). She tells him that the light has turned green, but he says it is too dangerous to drive in such thick fog. Then he moves in for a kiss. “This is more dangerous,” she says when they come up for air. “We’d better get going.” With that, off they go.

The typical reaction when you innocently ask a woman her age.The typical reaction when you innocently ask a man to do some chores.“Pardon me, is this the bus to downtown?”Somewhere else in the fog that night, a bus pulls to a stop and the lone passenger disembarks. The driver helps her with a package and tells her to be careful out in that fog. The bus pulls away into the fog as she walks slowly in the direction of home, her gaze darting about for any signs of trouble. Alas, trouble comes in all sizes, including gargantuan. The giant mantis appears out of the fog and attacks the bus, turning it over on its side. The driver lets out a scream and gets a look on his face like he just soiled his underwear. Not far away, the woman who just disembarked lets out a scream and looks like she may have crapped her undies as well.

We return to Parkman driving Marge home. On the radio is a report about the bus attack, which according to the reporter, happened only five minutes ago and is unexplained, as there were no other vehicles involved. If it’s only been five minutes, then how do they know what did and did not happen? Seeing as how the only one who witnessed the accident was that sole woman, I’m surprised that anyone even knows about it at all after only five minutes. She would have had to run somehwere to use the phone and then rush back to the accident scene. The radio announcer goes on to report that including the earlier train accident, this makes seven accidents in the area within the last 24 hours. Coincidence? I think not.

Parkman turns the car around and heads to the scene of the bus accident, where about a million people are milling around. The cops are trying to comfort the woman who witnessed the attack. Parkman asks one cop what happened and he says that he doesn’t know, but it looks like something lifted the bus and smashed it. Is this guy an idiot? Has he even been watching the news over the last couple of days? What else could have lifted a bus and then smashed it other than the giant mantis that has the entire nation afraid of their shadows? It certainly wasn’t the Jolly Green Giant…who by the way always freaked me out as a kid with that leafy tunic of his and those colossal pixie boots with pointed toes…but I digress.

Anyway, the cop turns away the guys from the coroner’s office, as there are no bodies to collect. Yeah, because that poor bus driver was pulled from the bus like a he was a piece of crackerjack and gobbled up whole by the mantis…all seen by that poor woman, who will no doubt require extensive therapy for who knows how long to help her cope with the memory of the poor bastard screaming in fear as he was plucked from the vehicle and devoured. She is led away, sobbing the entire time. Long about now, Parkman overhears a report coming in via the police radio, stating that the mantis has been sighted over Washington. He and Marge quickly leave. Poor Marge, she was so tired earlier and all she’s managed to do is get a cat nap while in the Colonel’s car.

Stock footage of soldiers rushing to man anti-aircraft guns is now rolled out. I really had not realized until now just how many stock shots were used in this film. Quite high for a movie from a “big” studio. We see the mantis fly over the Capitol building and then it lands on the side of the Washington monument, scaring the crap out of the two guys posted inside, who hug and hold on to each other with a fervor not seen outside of a David DeCoteau film. The beast slowly climbs to the top of the monument, an effect apparently accomplished by having a real mantis climb on a model. Simple, but effective.

Elsewhere, stock footage pilots are scrambling to get into their stock footage planes. It’s funny because the shots of the mantis climbing on the Washington Monument are at night, but all the shots of the pilots and planes are in full delay. Even worse, a sign shows the name of an air force base near Washington D.C., but the scenes of the planes lifting off were obviously shot in the desert…at high noon! And who should be leading this squadron of jets, but Colonel Parkman himself. This guy just cannot let anyone else do anything. He has to do it all himself. What a control freak. In a control room somewhere, General Ford, Ned and Marge watch as the mantis is tracked toward Baltimore, which would mean it is moving north rather than further south as Ned originally believed.

The order is given for any ground-based artillery to shoot at anything in the sky not identified as friendly. As the mantis nears Baltimore, the army starts firing everything they have at it. Yes, this means lots of stock footage. After shooting at the mantis, the bug drops too low for radar to pick it up. Ford notes that one of the ground observers will pick it up. That’s the cue to show the stock shots of the ground observers again and then show the mantis flying through the clouds and fog.

And you thought being hit by pigeon poop was bad.These ground observers relay the information, which allows Colonel Parkman and his squadron to continue to track the mantis. They soon spot the beast and begin firing at it. Parkman then collides with the monster, forcing him to eject. It’s a good thing this was not a giant buzzard as big as a battleship, otherwise he might be in danger of being gobbled up while floating to earth in his parachute, but instead the mantis just vanishes into the urban jungle of New York City. It seems the big bug has taken refuge in the Manhattan Tunnel. Hell, there goes the commute!

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Soon we see that the entrance to the tunnel has been portioned off with large tarps. Smoke is being pumped into the tunnel to provide a means of cover if the troops need to be sent inside. The press is again nearby in large numbers and one reporter gets a little bold in asking questions about the mantis and the rumor that the flyer who shot it down will be going into the tunnel after it. I guess that means Colonel Parkman survived. The reporter gets pushed back with the others.

Parkman arrives, dressed in a containment suit. He reports to General Ford that everything is okay at the Jersey end of the tunnel, with tarps holding in all the smoke there as well. Parkman reports that the mantis is about a quarter mile from this end of the tunnel. Ned and Marge arrive about now and Ned says that the mantis mortally wounded. If they can keep it inside the tunnel long enough, it will die. Worried that the monster may break through the tunnel walls and cause a flood, Ford gives Parkman the greenlight to go inside and confront the beast.

The colonel briefs the small group of soldiers who are about to go inside the tunnel. There about ten of them in all. Some have chemical grenades that will used against the mantis. The group ventures inside and sees a bunch of wrecked and overturned vehicles. I sure hope the drivers of those cars managed to get outside. Chances are they were gobbled up. The commute is bad enough each day without having to worry about being eaten alive by a giant insect. The mantis can be seen thrashing about some, pushing more vehicles around like Tonka trucks. Wait! Maybe those are Tonka trucks.

The group presses on and after what seems like an hour, they spot the mantis through the smoke. They begin shooting at it as it crawls over cars and trucks to get to them. When it is in the right spot, Parkman throws his chemical grenade, which only seems to stun the monster. Everyone runs and regroups. Another chemical grenade is thrown, but the mantis keeps coming. Time to run and regroup again! However, this time the collective chemical exposure seems to have finally done its work, With a few gasping moans, the mantis collapses, dead.

Later, when the tunnel has been cleared of smoke, Parkman leads the others inside, including Ned, Marge and General Ford. Looking at the dead monster, Ned tells Marge that there is the cover for next month’s magazine. She steps closer to snap a few photos. Ford asks Parkman where he collided with the mantis while piloting his jet. Parkman leads Ford and Ned to the spot to show them.

As the men walk in one direction, Marge snaps her photos, unaware that the giant foreleg of the mantis is rising up behind her. Parkman looks back in her direction and sees the movement. He runs and pushes Marge out of the way as the giant leg drops back to the ground. Of course, Marge lets out another scream to wake the dead. Plus, for some reason, Parkman feels it is necessary to lift her up and carry her away from the mantis.

No, that’s the front of the bug.Ned explains that the movement was just an auto-reflex mechanism and the bug is dead alright. Marge wants Parkman to put her down since she has pictures to take and now is no time for romance. Like so many men of his era, Parkman does not realize that no means no and pushes it, tossing the camera to Ned so he can snap the photos. This is enough to melt the ice queen’s heart as she gives in to Parkman and the two start snogging. There is a click and we see that Ned took a photo all right…a photo of the two of them engaged in a kiss.

Laughing, Ned turns back to photograph the deceased mantis. We get one last shot of it as it lies there dead.

The End.

 

Review.

Giant monster movies are the quintessential science fiction/horror film experience from 1950’s America, none more so than one featuring a gigantic bug. Nothing else seems to better represent the decade with its booming economy, fear of communism and newly acquired fear and fascination with the dangers of runaway science than a colossal insect on the rampage, destroying cities and devouring the populace. While the idea may seem much sillier these days, and certainly the execution of such films bear the markings of much simpler times and filmmaking processes, they are still an endearing part of Americana…at least for now. With the passage of time comes the realization that fewer and fewer people watch, let alone appreciate, these golden oldies. The Deadly Mantis will probably stand the test of time and be remembered as being one of only a few films that stood at the pinnacle of the giant bug genre.

The Storyline
This movie adheres to one of the basic unfolding plot formulas of the day. First, there is a mystery involving missing people. The mystery deepens as more people vanish and strange clues are found. Specialists are called in to determine the nature of the threat. The monster is revealed and goes on a rampage. Finally, after repeated attempts at stopping it, the monster is killed. For the most part, that general outline is followed by numerous films from the time period, whether they deal with giant monsters or not. There are some deviations, of course, but most of the time that is the basic plot. Each film will differ in the details, such as the characters, the monster itself and several other factors. If there is one thing that may seem truly silly in today’s world, is the idea that there ever could have existed a mantis (or any other organism, insect or not) of such staggering proportions. Sure, insects were comparatively huge in earlier times in Earth’s history, but they were never Godzilla-sized, that’s for sure. The ecosystem would never have supported a single organism of such size, let alone an entire species. They just would not have survived long enough to evolve into such massive sizes. Additionally, it is just physically impossible for an insect to be that large and not collapse in on itself from its sheer mass. But does that really matter in the long run? Of course not. We’re here to see a giant bug on screen and as goofy as that idea is at its core, we will gladly suspend our disbelief for an hour or two while we are being entertained.

The Characters
Coming from the late 50’s as this film did, there was the very real possibility that the filmmakers would appeal to the younger market and feature a group of teens as the main characters. Goodness knows that it happened plenty of times in other films. Perhaps because this was a production from a big studio – Universal – and not a smaller outfit like AIP, the filmmakers opted to go for professional adults as their characters. You can’t get any more serious or professional than an Air force Colonel, which we have in Joe Parkman. He is shown as a very hands on type of commanding officer, leading by example and not willing to avoid any risks that he might order others to deal with. As exemplary as that is, it’s about all we know about him. We get no details as to his past or what makes him tick. So while the movie paints him as heroic, he comes off as somewhat drab. Almost like a cardboard cutout of a hero, dropped into place in order to fill the slot. The only thing we learn about him is that he is single. Well, let’s hope so, because if he is married, then he has no business pursuing Marge the way he does.

Next up we have Dr. Ned Jackson, our scientist character. It wasn’t enough to have the military just start firing everything they had at the monster in these old films. Producers had to balance such martial attitudes with more intellectual individuals, if only to remind us that it is through our minds and intellect that we can defeat our enemies and not just with brute force. Thus, many of these old films had scientists that advised the leaders on how to counteract the threat. In this film, that is Dr. Jackson, though he plays more of a part in discovering what the threat may be rather than actually engaging in any way of stopping it. For that we have Colonel Parkman and the might of the United States armed forces. Like Parkman, we really don’t get to know a lot about Jackson. Is he married? I don’t think so. He and Marge maintained a professional, platonic relationship, so maybe he was. Who knows? He seems committed to his work and readily helps out when his country came calling. While not the classic example of a hero, he certainly was brave enough and didn’t balk at anything.

Finally, we have Marge Blaine, the editor for the monthly magazine put out by the museum where she and Ned Jackson both work. Marge is a classic example of how 50’s genre films tried very hard to show women as strong, self-sufficient professionals, yet still needing a male to save them and make their lives complete. It’s like proclaiming someone a vegan but still showing them needing to snack on some beef jerky. Marge can handle herself well enough when faced with a room full of horny men that have not seen a woman in months, yet still can scream for all she’s worth and fly into a near panic when the monster puts in an appearance. As is often the case in these films, a male takes a liking to her. In this case that male would be Colonel Parkman, who as a typical 50’s male, seems willing to push himself onto the object of his desire, despite what protests she makes. Because when women say no, they really mean yes, right? OF COURSE NOT!! Again, a 50’s movie puts forth the assertion that despite her intellect and accomplishments, a woman will always need a man to decide what is best for her. How ridiculous! I don’t know what people (men) were afraid of more in the 1950’s: communists, giant radioactive monsters, UFO aliens or strong women. Sheesh.

The Music and FX
Sadly, much of the music used in this film is easily recognizable as coming from the Universal vaults, as I have heard much of it elsewhere, such as in the earlier films Tarantula and The Mole People; and the subsequent releases The Monolith Monsters and Monster on the Campus to name but a few (funny how I have reviewed all those films). While said music is good and fits with the overall theme and tone of the movie, it is hard for me personally to not recognize it and see it as something recycled. Sadly, I have seen these old films so many times, that I can picture in my mind’s eye the exact scene from each film when specific musical cues are utilized. Now that is truly pathetic.

Next up is the titular monster. In most instances, the monster is portrayed by what looks like a puppet or marionette. Despite how cheap and inadequate that may sound, the monster actually looks quite good in the vast majority of shots. Sure, in a few its movements are a little stiff due to its nature, but that can be easily overlooked. Where the monster begins to lose credibility in my book is when it flies. The shots of it buzzing through the air are not convincing at all and it just winds up looking like a big rubber bug on a string…which is probably what it was. As for its roar…well, I’m not sure that a real mantis makes any kind of sound, but I’d like to think that if there was an insect that damn big, it would have to make some sort of sound when it expelled air from its mouth, I just don’t think that sound is going to be an animal-like roar. However, that is another factor that is easily overlooked in the long run. As for the film’s visual FX, remember that his was the 1950’s, so they are very crude by modern standards. Given how utterly crappy some other films from the same time period can be, this film actually begins to look good in comparison.

One track.Two tracks...plus, the mountains look different!The Technique
Normally I would have been aghast at the amount of stock footage used in this movie, but two things have calmed my ire on the subject. First, having just come off the review for King Dinosaur and its staggering amount of stock shots, it seems the ones in this film are rather minimal in comparison; and second, I thought the producers got inventive in finding ways to make the stock shots work for them
and fit more cohesively into the movie. For example, in many shots of Air Force personnel talking, the filmmakers have dubbed in a new voice – probably because the original sound elements to the stock footage were lost – but made sure that they synchronized with the lip movements. Then, this dialog was repeated by actors in the movie, giving the impression that all those disparate shots were meant to go together.

As is often the case in movies like this, no one behind the camera seems overly concerned with continuity. While numerous films from this era were positively terrible at it, with people changing positions within a single scene or entering a room in a different order than when they left the previous room, this movie is better at it in most cases. That’s not to say that things don’t slip through the cracks on occasion. Take a look at the pair of images to the left. The first shows the wreckage of the crashed C-47 when Colonel Parkman first investigates it. We see one of the mantis tracks in the snow. Later in the second image, when Parkman takes Ned and Marge back to the site, we now see two tracks in the snow. Did the mantis return and leave the second track, knowing that Ned would want to measure the distance between the two?

The Summation
It’s strange because on one hand, The Deadly Mantis seems like a better film than it is. The quintessential big bug movie, I think it is a case where it has transcended the sum of its parts to become something of a classic. When viewed by its component parts, it winds up seeming rather lacking. An abundance of stock footage, characters that seem real but don’t have much back story, a monster that is cool enough but never gets a decent rampage segment and a few other odds and ends are all lacking by themselves, but when added together make for a movie that is more watchable than one might think. The music is stuff we’ve heard before and the movie hits all the standard beats as the story unfolds, but much of the time that is why we love these old films. They offer something familiar and comfortable that we can enjoy. The Deadly Mantis may not be the very best monster film of the 1950’s, but it certainly ranks up near the top of the heap.


Was anyone ever fooled into thinking these old movies were in color?

 

Expect To See:
Giant Bugs – This icon actually features the monster from this film! We have one gargantuan praying mantis which gets loose after being frozen for millions of years. What is the first thing it wants after such a long nap? Snacks! Good thing there are lots of tasty humans around.
Ocean Hijinks – Not much of this, but there is one scene where the giant mantis attacks a small fishing boat and dines on the crew. Deadliest catch indeed! Whoever said working a fishing boat was dangerous wasn’t shitting!
Romance – Ugh. Things are just fine for a long portion of the film, with Ned and Marge enjoying a professional, platonic relationship. Then she meets Colonel Parkman and the goo-goo eyes begin. Marge and Parkman no doubt get it on after the events if this film.
Snow Hijinks – For most of the film’s first half, much of the action takes place in the arctic. So there is plenty of running around in the snow…or at least, whatever crap the producers half buried the cast in, to make it look like snow. My guess…spray painted corn flakes.
Stock Footage – Sheesh. There is plenty of this in several instances. Certainly any time the military is involved, it is stock footage. Hell, the first few minutes are loaded with it as the CLOWN sets up the basis for the story through the liberal use of stock footage.
Violence – There is some gunfire and a few missiles being bandied about, but most of the violence takes place off screen when people are eaten alive by the giant mantis. We only hear screams in one case, in all others it is strictly left up to the imagination.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: Dozens
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 0
Cups of coffee consumed: 12
Smokes: 6
Total gunshots fired: 50+
Total missiles fired: 18
Newspaper headlines: 5
Photos snapped by Marge: 3
Number of bags Ned takes for trip: 3
Number of bags Marge takes for same trip: 4
Times Marge screams: 2
Times mantis screams: 18
Total words spoken by CLOWN: 324
Percentage of movie comprised of stock footage: 17.43%
Number of times I watched this film for this review: 5

03 Min – Stock footage alert!
07 Min – Sounds like they’re being attacked by a swarm of bees.
11 Min – Camera rig shadow seen as we zoom in on the snow.
16 Min – Duck!
29 Min – Did he just insult the other guy’s field of study?
33 Min – No, don’t eat the doggies!
36 Min – It has been a very long time since any of those guys have seen a woman.
38 Min – That second track was not there earlier.
42 Min – There are two doors adjacent to one another that lead to the same place.
45 Min – The fresh catch of the day…man.
50 Min – These guys are taking Ned Scott’s final warning quite seriously.
59 Min – Stock footage alert!
65 Min – Plastic model airplane destroyed.
66 Min – You mean it didn’t even pay the toll?
77 Min – Orkin wins again. The End.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Everytime you hear the loud droning sound of the mantis, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

See? Greenland IS bigger
than South America.


The seldom seen weapons of
the drug war: the cocaine guns.


“Sir, it looks like the supply plane
forgot your blow-up doll again.”


 
“Yuck, Glen Miller.”

Looks like Santa stopped by for a visit.

“I don’t think there is much demand
for Godzilla’s nail clippings on Ebay.”


 
“Yes, Mr. President, that crank call
asking for Hugh Jass was just as
funny as the first five times you did it.”


 
“This will teach my neighbor a
lesson about letting his cat
crap on my lawn!”

Guys, insert your own X-rated joke
here. I can think of at least three.

“Will you quit drawing pictures
of your dick!”

“Hand it over gramps. I’m tired of
you stealing the bugs in amber
for your paperweights.”

“Hold everything! I’m checking the
SAG bylaws to ensure we’re getting
the required break periods.”


“Give that man a cookie.”

“Who disturbs my slumber?”

“Aw crap, if these calculations are
correct, I’ve only got thirteen
years left to live.”


“This Trump guy on the TV is
a real asshole.”

Looks like the world’s biggest
Emu came through here.

“Viewers may find portions of this
program offensive…particularly
the commercials.”


We all knew there were giant
pests in Washington.

“Boy, is the wife gonna bite my
head off when I get home.”

On the set of Space Invaders: The Movie.

A giant bug calls for a giant smoke bomb.

“This job is okay but the commute sucks!”

“The roofies kicked in. I’m taking her
back to my place.”

 

Immortal Dialog

Dr. Ned Jackson discusses the strange hook found in the arctic.

Ned: “It’s part of something alive. Something that must be incredibly, unbelievably huge.”

Shadow’s Comment: Mariah Carey?


Dr. Ned Jackson describes the predator with which they may be dealing.

Ned: “I doubt that anything that ever lived could be as deadly. It’s strong besides anything its size suggests….Its appetite is insatiable.”

Shadow’s Comment: Definitely Mariah Carey.


Colonel Parkman dispenses some advice.

Parkman: “You spotters should listen for a loud droning sound, much like that of a squadron of heavy bombers flying in formation.”

Shadow’s Comment: Or much like the sound of your nagging wife when the weekend rolls around and you haven’t done one thing on her mile-long honey-do list. Not that I have any experience with such a situation. Bitter? Who me?

 

Keep In Mind
  • Air Force Colonels do not know how to delegate tasks.
  • Skilled pilots can land a plane atop a narrow mountaintop ridge.
  • Air Force pilots routinely nap in the cockpit.
  • Military installations are often housed in castles.
  • Even editors for museum magazines have a nose for news.
  • Dating options are extremely limited at the North Pole.
  • A slide rule is a vital tool for every scientist, no matter their field.
  • Canadians have English accents.
  • When a general tells you to go home, you go home.
  • People suffering from shock and trauma are best cared for by coroners.
  • Washington D.C. is located in a desert.
  • Giant monsters love to visit New York City.

 

This Film & Me

By the time I was in my early twenties, I had seen nearly all of the major science fiction and horror movies from the 1950’s. Sure there were plenty of more obscure, low budget films that eluded me for years, but the so called “classics” were already notches on my viewing belt. Well, most of them. For some reason or another, The Deadly Mantis was a film that I had never seen. I knew of it, had read about it and had even seen clips from it over the years, but for some reason, I had never been able to actually watch it. It had become my own personal holy grail of 50’s genre cinema: the big studio film that I had never seen. Then one day I was perusing the VHS tapes at a local chain store outlet (a chain which is now long gone, methinks) when I found the movie – along with numerous other titles from Universal – on display. It was like finding the mother lode while mining for gold or locating some lost pirate treasure. I quickly scooped up all the films that I did not already own (which was about ten tapes overall), including The Deadly Mantis. Naturally, this was the first film I watched once I got my booty home. With great pomp and circumstance…okay, more like subdued lighting and lots of popcorn and soda, I watched the film. I loved it. I think that was the last time that I had the chance to view a previously unseen film from the 50’s and wound up loving it. Most films in later years that fit that category would be the more craptacular samplings from the decade in question. Alas, twenty plus years have elapsed since then and I have watched The Deadly Mantis numerous times in the interim, leading me to realize that despite its high points, the film has plenty of cheap aspects to it as well, which is why I cannot rate it as high as my other favorites from the same era.

Shadow's rating: Seven Tombstones



The Good

  • Decent giant bug effects in some shots
  • Likable, if thinly realized characters
  • Good pace

The Bad

  • Crappy giant bug effects in some shots
  • Lack of a good monster rampage
  • Film's climax devoid of any thrills

The Ugly

  • Over use of stock footage
  • Universal stock music
  • Yet another movie featuring a CLOWN

 

 

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