Thursday, December 30, 2010
DEADLY MANTIS (1957). Director: Nathan Juran.
A gargantuan prehistoric preying mantis thaws out from its icy prison and makes it way down from the Arctic and toward Washington D.C. and then Manhattan, where it lodges inside a tunnel after popping quite a few people into its mouth. This is one of the few credible mechanical monsters to appear in a creature feature -- its skin is slick, it drips saliva, it's "altogether icky" and its utter lack of personality only makes it creepier. Craig Stevens is the stoic, nearly wooden Colonel Parkman, assigned to destroy the big bug; William Hopper is a helpful paleontologist; and Alix Talton is the nature mag photographer and nominal love interest. The best scenes, aside from the tunnel climax, have the insect climbing the Washington Memorial and flipping over a bus -- not to mention when it creeps up on an Army base and scares the bejeezus out of Talton.
Verdict: A fun creature feature. ***. NOTE: To read more about this film and others like it, see Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.