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The Deadly Mantis (1957) | We’re gonna need more bug spray!


Out of a million years ago … a thousand tons of horror!
This 1957 creature feature was one of a slew of giant bug movies that followed in the wake of Them!. The premise has a giant praying mantis released from its slumber in the frozen Arctic following a volcanic eruption, then making its way to Washington DC where it smashes into a jet and gets gased in an underground tunnel.

It’s all deadly dull with lots of stock footage (including Eskimos escaping in caneos in fast-motion) and talky scenes (mainly military types trying to woo the film’s solitary female, played by Alix Talton). But the mantis effects are effective and fun. It’s just a shame the creature is as wooden as the acting by the human cast.

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Director Nathan Juran won an Oscar in 1941 for How Green Was My Valley, then helmed such genre classics like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. But I will always associate him with Irwin Allen’s sci-fi TV shows Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. Actor William Hopper, who plays a palaeontologist, was the real-life son of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (wonder what she felt of her nephew’s wooden performance).

The Deadly Mantis is out on DVD in the UK from Fabulous Films


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