Deadly Mantis (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (25th August 2015).
The Film

"With every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." It is these words that begin the film as we witness an explosion or eruption in the Weddell Sea which forms part of the Southern Ocean. From there we are then transported North, past Greenland, until we arrive at the North Pole. Here, in a reaction to the events in the Weddell Sea, icebergs tip over and great cliffs of ice fall into the sea revealing a giant praying mantis frozen in ice. From here the viewer is Ďtreatedí to some exposition regarding the layers of radar systems throughout North America. It is at one of these radar stations, just south of the North Pole that our story really starts when a remote base is attacked and destroyed. The two men that man the station disappear. A short while later a military aircraft is downed and destroyed. Colonel Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens) investigates and finds a large, mysterious object. The object is handed over to some of the finest scientists in the United States of America but they are baffled by the object. One of the scientists suggests that noted palaeontologist Doctor Ned Jackson (William Hopper) should take a look. Jackson travels to the Pentagon in Washington DC and concludes the object is a body part of an insect. Jackson, along with Marge Blaine (Alix Talton) who is a journalist and editor for the magazine that is produced by the museum where Jackson works, travel to the radar station to look at the crash site of the aeroplane and at the ruined base. Later, the base they are stationed at, is attacked by the giant preying mantis. Soldiers from the base managed to fight it off with flamethrowers and rifles and the mantis flees. Jackson, Parkman and Marge track the mantis via the radar and follow itís course south. Several attacks on mainland America later, including one on a train and another on a bus, the mantis is spotted attacking The Washington Monument. Fighter jets are scrabbled and manage to force the mantis to flee North towards New York. Just outside the city the jets strike the mantis with rockets and the mantis lands and takes shelter in the Manhattan Tunnel. With the beast cornered it is down to Parkman to rally the troops in one final assault against the giant insect.

Any serious critique of ĎThe Deadly Mantisí would be almost as pointless an exercise as the film itself. This is a B movie, folks, and should be treated as one. Although the script and the actors take the drama seriously no one else should. Itís just a simple monster movie, nothing more and nothing less, and when viewed as such itís quite good fun. Whilst ĎThe Deadly Mantisí never reaches the heights of other, good, B movies such as ĎThemí, or ĎThe Incredible Shrinking Maní itís still a fun ride. This is not to say that the film does not have itís faults. It has them in abundance. The script is often clunky. The noted palaeontologist Jackson at one point produces a piece of amber which has a large beetle encased within. He then states itís a giant ant! Jackson also has a fairly long diatribe about frozen mammoths still being alive whilst encased and would have come out of their frozen state if they had not been carved up for scientific reasons before they had thawed. The whole film is played as if itís a mystery, which is also pointless, as if the title was not a dead giveaway then the first sight of the frozen mantis in the filmís first five minutes certainly is. There is also quite a lot of stock footage used during the film which detracts from the production. The size of the giant mantis also seems to change depending on what is required by the script. One moment itís three times larger than a huge aircraft, the next it can fit comfortably into the Manhattan tunnel, with room to spare. Having said all that, these are churlish complaints. This is a film that was never meant to be taken seriously. This is a film designed to bypass eighty minutes in a fun way whilst the viewer crams down as much popcorn as possible, and in that regard it succeeds. The model work on the mantis is decent, and the attacks are good fun too. The acting is rather wooden but I donít suppose anyone picking up this DVD is going to be expecting the type of quality of Laurence Olivier in Hamlet. This is not the best of the 1950ís monster movies but itís certainly not the worst either. Good, wholesome fun for those that like that sort of thing.

Video

Presented in itís original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, there has been no restoration to the video quality at all. The stock footage used in the film, and there is much of it here, is scratched to pieces. Some of the shots actually shot for the film are in decent condition, if a little soft in places, whilst at other times it is also scratched with many marks. In general this is a decent presentation of a minor B movie that was released nearly sixty years ago.

Audio

The English Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono soundtrack is pretty good. No pops or crackles. The dialogue is perfectly clear and the score comes across loud and clear. The music can sometimes be a little on the tinny side but there are no real complaints. There are no subtitles available.

Extras

Trailer (2.07) - The trailer is in worse condition than the feature presentation. Itís quite dark and very soft but nice to have.

Lobby Card Gallery (0.24) - A selection of colourised lobby cards are presented here as a slideshow

Stills Gallery (1.21) - A selection of black and white stills from the film.

Poster Gallery (0.18) - A selection of six old posters advertising the film presented as a slideshow.

Overall

If black and white monster movies from the 1950ís are your thing then you canít go too far wrong with ĎThe Deadly Mantisí. Sure, the acting is wooden, the script ridiculous, and some of the effects more prehistoric than the titular character but what are you expecting? Despite a rather sluggish start the film gets into itís stride with some fun man versus insect battles. ĎThe Deadly Mantisí pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin.




The Film: B- Video: C- Audio: B- Extras: D Overall: C

 


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