Monday, 24 November 2008

The Deadly Mantis (1957)

One of the saddest things about our present age is the disappearance of the giant bug movie. The golden age of giant bugs was of course the 50s, but they survived in small numbers until the 70s (Empire of the Ants being one of the last).

In most cases giant bugs were the result of nuclear radiation, but The Deadly Mantis presents an interesting variation. This praying mantis the size of a medium-sized airliner isn’t a mutation, it’s a naturally occurring species. Or at least it was a naturally occurring species millions of years ago, and this particular example as frozen in the ice in the polar wastes of northern Canada until it was awakened by a volcanic eruption.

Having been revived, the gigantic insect starts heading south, toward the tropics, leaving a trail of destruction behind it. Both the US Navy and the Air Force send up jet fighters to deal with this insectoid menace, but unfortunately their gunnery is so bad they can’t hit an insect the size of a medium-sized airliner even at close range.

Luckily there’s a scientist who eventually figures out what they’re dealing with. Naturally he has a glamorous female assistant. And naturally she falls for one of the brave military types battling the ravenous and murderous bug.

After assorted aircraft, buses, trains, buildings and national monuments have been demolished the mammoth insect is wounded and takes shelter in the Manhattan Tunnel.

If you like 50s giant bug movies you’ll like this one. It’s the sort of thing you have to be in the mod for, but if you are in that mood you’ll have fun with this one.

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