"Mantis in Lace" (1968) is, in four fairly equal quarters, a soft-core skin flick, a psychedelic drug movie, a slasher horror film AND a police procedural. In it, we meet Lila (Susan Stewart), a young and gorgeous topless dancer who takes LSD one night with a guy she's picked up. After hallucinating pretty severely for a while, Lila kills the young dude with a screwdriver and chops him to bits with a meat cleaver. This scenario is repeated three or four times while a pair of (surprisingly UNdorky) L.A. cops tries to track the maniac down. Yup, that's pretty much all this film has to offer. One of Lila's victims, I might add, is Stuart Lancaster, who might be a familiar face to all the Russ Meyer fans out there; another, a macho rapist, most certainly deserves to be diced at Lila's hands. The picture feels very padded with numerous topless dance numbers (the opulently cantilevered legend Pat Barrington looks pretty impressive, actually, doing a frenzied belly dance; come to think of it, she would do a bit of "tripping out" herself that same year in the film "The Acid Eaters"), long makeout scenes, a lovemaking bout between the topless club's manager and a job applicant that adds nothing to the plot whatsoever, and loads of colorful hallucinations. It has been lensed by Laszlo Kovacs, who would depict an even more harrowing lysergic experience in the following year's "Easy Rider." (Actually, I found the aural component of Lila's trips much more freaky than the visuals.) Sadly, the viewer never learns anything concrete about Lila's background, or why the drug sets her off the way it does; indeed, the only thing we can discover about her comes from the film's admittedly hypnotic theme song. Concluding with an ironic albeit extremely telegraphed ending, "Mantis in Lace" is ultimately a real mixed bag; a psychedelic psycho curiosity that should have been better. Oh...this Something Weird DVD features over 100 minutes' worth of alternate film footage. Far out, man!
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