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|Index||65 reviews in total|
This is an above-par gigantic monster thriller from the golden age, well-presented. A thawed, flesh-eating prehistoric preying mantis from the Arctic circle makes way for New York. Director Nathan Juran handles scenes well, including nostalgic map graphics detailing radar sites in the introduction, and using eerie nighttime photography covered in fog-shrouded atmosphere. Musical score is forceful and suspenseful, Clifford Stine special effects are fine for its era. Stock footage abounds but is not uninteresting, leads Craig Stevens and William Hopper are stalwart and wooden, but Alix Talton, a husky voiced former Miss Georgia and resembling Jane Wyman, is fun and natural. Last sequence still thrills, when we start to feel a little sympathy for this wounded animal, roaring and wailing as he meets inevitable doom.
The Deadly Mantis is a fine example of the best of the 1950's vintage science fiction movies. A good story line with enjoyable character interaction. The movies use of documentary footage to introduce scientific or geographic fact into the setting of the fiction was classic 50's. I actual learned something about the multi-million dollar "DEW" Line. Today's modern viewer may complain about the special effects, but remember that the movie was made in 1957 not 1997. With that in mind, rent the movie, pretend you're at the drive-in, and have an enjoyable evening.
I'd gladly watch this one without the benefit of MST3K, as it wasn't half
bad, considering the genre and era in which it was made. But then I'm a
sucker for movies which open with giant maps, and story lines that offer
military responses to life's problems.
To those of you who think this movie sucked, I suggest you view "Beginning of the End," another '50s era bug spectacular, this one featuring Peter Graves vs. a giant mutant grasshopper. I think after that you'd agree that the Mantis wasn't so bad.
A giant praying mantis is awakened from its sleep in the artic region and
heads south causing havoc. Boats, planes and trains meet their match with
the flying creature. Before unleashing its full wrath on NYC, the mantis
meets its doom at the hands of the armed forces in a New York tunnel. The
special effects are of course crude by todays standards, but for a ten
old boy in 1957 this was very memorable.
Starring are William Hopper, Craig Stevens, Alix Talton and Pat Conway.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know why everyone thinks they're a great movie critic. If you get a kick out of old sci-fi flicks, this one was a lot of fun. Where else can you find a giant bug making war on the American military! My favorite scene is when the mantis is hiding in a ditch and cocks it's head to watch it's enemy fly overhead. And I didn't think a mantis was a strategist. I wish they would have forgotten the romance part, because the leading man really sucked. Through the whole movie, I was waiting for his demise, which unfortunately did not come! And then he ended up in bed with the girl. (not really, but you get the idea). I thought it was a very watchable movie if you've got an imagination.
Say you like this movie if you thought it wasn't a complete waste of your
time. Seriously, folks, movies are largely just an assemblage of lies
(including documentaries and biographies) strung together by some type of
formulaic narrative strategy.
As Giant Monster Movies usually go, I've only two personal favorites: Japan's "War of the Gargantuas" and this one served up in the late '50s by America's Universal Studios.
This lie (In real life, even prehistoric dragonflies didn't get half as large as this cinematic 'creation') is told effectively enough; for its time, it must have seemed infinitely impressive.
So if you felt you had to say anything about DM, say enough good things about it as well...
Serviceable special effects, especially when we get close-ups of the titular Praying Mantis, peeping in windows and a roar to match its size and density. The monster has a special aversion to planes, trains and automobiles (all the miniature vehicles and sets met with my own personal 'satisfaction' standards).
The overall production is marred slightly by the film's initial 'public service message,' warning us that atomic energy is bad (Duh!), and its piddling knowledge about North American ground control (yadda, yadda, so what!), the story's most interesting moments are repeatedly slowed down by long stretches of non-activity (through the use of time filling dialog and scenes that take you 'nowhere' in particular).
In short, this would have made a fascinating half-hour production, with non-stop original thrills (Case in Point: the filmmakers in this one resisted showing a hyper-destructive opportunity when, as the flying monster alights on the Washington Monument, it doesn't destroy it; my guess is, it needed to rest its wings).
I must point out one error in DM: Although Mantis is supposed to be migrating due south, why is he heading north, from Washington, D.C. to New York City?
I found the ending satisfactory (Watch for the modest, yet interesting false alarm!).
The Deadly Mantis was made towards the end of Universal's 1950's cycle of
monster/sci-fi movies. This one is one of the best.
A giant prehistoric mantis is awoken from a long sleep by atomic bomb testing in the North Pole. After going on the rampage in the frozen wastes and killing several people in the process, it heads first for Washington and then New York, where it is eventually gassed in Manhattan Tunnel.
The giant mantis in this movie looks quite impressive despite the low budget. The movie's cast is led by William Hopper (20 Million Miles to Earth). He and the others play good parts.
I found this movie quite enjoyable and is worth watching if you get the chance.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Although the intricacies of the plot are forever unbelievable, this film works very well both as a suspense film and also as a creditable "Giant Bug" film, so typical during the 50's Golden Age of Science Fiction. A giant Praying Mantis is preserved in the ice of the Artic Ocean, only to be dislodged by man's environmental meddling. The bug flies over various places in the Artic eating human beings as it makes its way toward the Equator. The task of destroying the giant insect befalls to three protagonists: Craig Stevens the military man(and romancer), William Hopper as the dedicated paleontologist, and Alix Talton as the hungry reporter/photographer/necessary female character so that main character can fall in love. The three manage to find the mantis and well....let's just say the poor creature didn't say his prayers TOO often. The film is tight, has lots of action, and is a great entertaining diversion.
Well I can tell you this scared the bejeesus out of me when I was kid.
Watching it today, there are three things of note.
The first is the military footage. The virtual budget of this was millions of dollars because of the military supplied footage. It was defense policy to let the Soviets know of our massive three-tiered air defense and there was an office to so publicize. The idea was to convince the Russians that an attack couldn't possibly work, that the thing really existed. That's why the Pentagon subsidized these things. The scripts were therefore friendly to military success at the end, too.
A solid third of this is from the department of defense, no model planes here.
Perry Mason, the detecting lawyer was a literary phenomenon when this was made, the books about him being outsold only by the Bible. And there was a very popular TeeVee show based on him. Perry's own detective was a guy played by the detective here. And his sidekick is a Della Street (the third member of the gang) lookalike. It was like having Indiana Jones appear. The effect is lost today but was quite something in the day.
The third remarkable thing is what scares us. What we fear in our imagination is largely defined by movies. And what movies use to frighten us is tightly constrained by what they can show. In the fifties, that was often disappearing or morphing things, guys in rubber suits and small things made big by trick photography. "Them" was probably the first giant bug movie, but it used real bugs. This is already a second generation, using stop motion.
The footage of Aleutians borrowed from an older film is great, really great.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
I saw this on MST3K, and it's one of my great favourites. The endless map sequence at the beginning is quite hilarious, but my weakness for this movie stems from the fact that almost the first third of it takes place in Canada's arctic, and my dad actually worked on the DEW Line while I was a kid. The stock footage of the building of the radar lines up in the Arctic was fun (stirring music and all), but I think that someone connected with making the movie must have either been on the DEW Line, or knew someone who had. There were so many odd little details I've never seen in another movie, even though 'The Deadly Mantis' is not original in its use of the military to fight off a giant invader. The giant "Check Your Antifreeze" sign prominently displayed at headquarters was one - who would think of a detail like that, unless they'd actually seen it somewhere? And the most bizarre thing was the guys dancing together at the little party on the base; when you think about it, it makes sense - no women up there, so if you want to dance, you'd have to have men dancing together, but it's just not something a writer would just dream up while writing a movie. Alas, my dad died before I saw this movie, so I couldn't ask him how authentic it was in its portrayal of life on the DEW Line, but I think of him every time I watch it, and I'm sure he would have laughed uproariously.
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