The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Here’s another helping of pure 1950s schlock…only this one comes with a propaganda-heavy ‘message’ that comes at you with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Russians…er….deadly giant mantis=BAD! USA=GOOD! It seems to me that the studio that created this overly patriotic drivel was handed a ton of stock military footage and told to build a Pro-USA monster flick around it. What emerges is gut-bustingly bad, possibly even at the time it came out. At least I hope so. Otherwise, 1950s people were dangerous cattle-like morons suffering from a serious case of paranoid xenophobia. Wait…now that I think about it…! So, a huge praying mantis is somehow thawed out of its iceberg prison and decides to destroy EVERYTHING it encounters as it heads toward warmer southern climates. A stoic scientist and his plucky assistant/photographer join forces with a group of frighteningly sex-starved pilots and soldiers to trace the monsters path of destruction. The movie starts out with an elementary school explanation of the superior workings of the US/Canada radar shield that protects the God-fearing citizens of the wonderful United States of America from The Red Threat that lurks just over the North Pole. It even has the typically dry masculine narration of the time…and diagrams!! I feel safer already. The acting and dialogue is atrocious; all robotic posturing and flat line deliveries that simply exist to explain things…in the simplest and most boring manner possible. Some of it is SO bad, you’d swear they actually practiced being dull ahead of time. I loved how the mantis roared and shrieked like a deranged elephant every time it turned up to destroy miniature buildings, or to leer into the camera; trying to look monstrous. Oh, and us Canadians speak with stiff upper-crust British accents…just like in real life!!! Throw in a portrayal of ‘Eskimos’ as a rag-tag collection of backwards mongoloids and you’ve got a Politically Correct Full Meal Deal on your hands. This movie is awful. It’s sad existence is only validated as a snap-shot into the paranoid American psyche at the time. But if that’s what you’re looking for…maybe bypass this one and reach for Red Dawn (1984) instead.


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