The Deadly Mantis
1957, Universal-International, Dir. Nathan Juran
79 min. / B&W / 1.85:1
BD: Scream! Factory $27.99
A giant flying prehistoric praying mantis thaws out of the polar ice and heads southward, eating everybody in its path. Eventually, it nests in the Lincoln Tunnel.
Seemingly, half of the film's 79-min. running time is military stock footage; various jets and rockets get more screen time than the titular nasty bug, which is generally seen coming out at its victims out of thick fog, just like Jack the Ripper (only way bigger, probably). So much military footage the whole thing reminded me of a Disney True-Life "Man in Space" episode, in fact. William Hopper and Craig Stevens are the military and science guys trying to stop the mantis, and Alix Talton is the babe.
Dr. Hopper: "In all the kingdom of the living, there is no more deadly or voracious creature than the praying mantis."
Not a good movie, and certainly not the jewel in the William Alland Production Crown. Congrats to the Scream! Factory employee who was actually able to dig out a rave review somewhere on the Internet to plaster on the back of the box. More accurate would've been the Psychotronic Video Guide ("a dumb film with lots of stock footage") or Halliwell ("absurd and poorly crafted") but they could also go with mine ("as giant bug films go, cheesy enough to be passably entertaining").
One question, though: why do all these giant bugs like to peek at ladies through their window?
So how's the Blu-ray?
Beautiful! Gorgeous widescreen picture and the mono sound is as good as you'd hope. In fact, The Deadly Mantis Blu-ray is everything a Monster Kid could want. Includes a great still gallery (if it's a still or poster from the film, it's in here) and commentary from Tom Weaver and for the second time (after The Mole People) I wasn't able to get through the dull commentary: if Mr. Weaver doesn't like a film, his effort shows. Also includes the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version of the film.
Scream! Factory has Tarantula and The Land Unknown coming, with a Universal Horror Collection with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. I feel as though I need to stay alive just to see these favorite films in such superlative packages.