Blu-ray Review: The Deadly Mantis (1957)

March 10, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

You want to know about the state of radar in late 1950’s america? Well The Deadly Mantis has your ass covered bro! The opening gives us this lesson as well as an excuse as to just what the hell our soldiers and boats would be doing the absolute middle of nowhere…not sure if the audience for a film about a giant insect needs this level of world building, but whateves.

After a mammoth “bone” is discovered at the North Pole, scientists do their science bag and determine a frickin’ giant (and if the title of this baby is to be believed…deadly) prehistoric mantis has woken up from centuries of slumber and is on the loose…and if our stock-footage (of which this film contains an inordinate amount) military might, along with Paleontologist Dr. Nedrick Jackson (William Hopper) and his photo-journalist gal pal Marge Blaine (Alix Talton), can’t punch him a new asshole, civilization could very well be doomed as the creature begins making it’s way south!

Full of dodgy science, ham-fisted performances, and suspenseful scenes of the eponymous monster on the rampage (most involving deft usage of foggy atmospherics), The Deadly Mantis is a prime example of 1950’s sci-fi awesomeness; the type of picture where science saved the day…well science and some jet planes, and every outlandish premise was presented with the utmost gravitas. Speaking of that monster, the mantis itself is realized via a truly fantastic, large scale practical effect that should please every lover of creature features of the era…especially those among them that dig on the flick Them! (which featured similar effects to bring to life a horde of giant ants)…and since a movie like this is only as good as the creature it presents, this element makes The Deadly Mantis a winner even with the excessive stock footage…and whatever the hell the Manhattan Tunnel is…

As for special features, Scream Factory has done a solid job with this Blu-ray release! First up is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that roasts the film (and I know that your mileage varies with that particular program boils n’ ghouls). Following that we get a still gallery and the film’s trailer. Bringing up the rear is an excellent audio commentary courtesy of Film Historian Tom Weaver (joined by David Schecter) which is chock full of info about the production, it’s stars, and even Weaver’s personal remembrances of seeing the film in his youth.

Bottom line; The Deadly Mantis is a supreme example of ’50’s era sci-fi creature feature awesomeness and is exactly the type of flick that should spring to mind when the heydays of the Drive-In theater is mentioned…and best of all, the star of the show is a great piece of special effects wizardry that surely satisfies!



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