The Deadly Mantis (1957)

deadly mantis poster 1957 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Mantis is kind of an impressive construct

Dull plot and characters

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Deadly Mantis

Studio: Universal-International

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  May 1, 1957 (Premiere)/May 26, 1957 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

deadly mantis creature attacks alix talton

Hey, I’m a Deadly Mantis…can I come in?

From beneath the ice, a danger has arisen.  A prehistoric giant praying mantis has been unleashed on the Earth.  Attacking anything it can for food and traversing the planet, the mantis has become a threat to humanity.  Dr. Nedrick Jackson (William Hopper), magazine editor Marge Blaine (Alix Talton), and Colonel Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens) are leading the fight on the mantis…and if they do not succeed the world could fall!

Directed by Nathan H. Juran, The Deadly Mantis is a horror science-fiction B-Movie.  The film was released as a double-feature with The Girl in the Kremlin and received negative reviews.  The film was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in their ninth season (MST3K 9.4).

I loved the Crestwood House Monster books.  I would check them out at the library all the time and one of the titles was The Deadly Mantis.  Unlike movies like Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Deadly Mantis didn’t air very often.  This always made the movie a bit of a mystery, and as a result, it is a bit of a favorite (though it is pretty bad).

deadly mantis creature head

Hi, guys…can I eat you?

The movie is pretty much a cliché of every sci-fi ’50s horror film.  You have a giant monster attacking, scientists, a damsel that screams, and a really low-key (aka dull) romance.  The Deadly Mantis might possibly even be less than thrilling since the mantis attacks are few and far between.  They generally just involve people hearing/seeing the mantis and the mantis attacking…plus some jet battles.

The cast is also a cliché.  The characters don’t have much depth and the actors don’t seem to add any to them.  Craig Stevens and William Hopper both were known at the time and went on to other known roles.  Stevens had the lead on lead on Peter Gunn, and William Hopper was Paul Drake on Perry Mason…but he also starred in another big sci-fi movie of 1957 in 20 Million Miles to Earth.  Alix Talton isn’t a bad scream queen but that is kind of all she really does.

deadly mantis ending creature insect tunnel

Grrrr…Mantis doesn’t like cars!!!

You could argue that the mantis is actually pretty impressive.  It was a giant construct of papier-mâché and looks about as good as you can expect.  The film generally has it surprise attacking people at the beginning or flying around on a projected background.  The end of the film showcases it a bit more with the showdown in the tunnel, but it still isn’t shown much.

The Deadly Mantis is a great example of the ’50s sci-fi that has been parodied and played with over the years.  Movies like Mars Attacks! used clichés from films like this (and of course UFO films).  While The Deadly Mantis isn’t very inspired or original, but it is short and to the point.  The mantis flies and people die…science and weapons of war are good.  Nature fights back, but man triumphs…the end.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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