Blu-ray Review: THE DEADLY MANTIS

THE DEADLY MANTIS was directed by Nathan Juran from a screenplay by Martin Berkeley and stars Craig Stevens as the commander in charge of putting an end to this beastly insect with William Hopper as the paleontologist and Alix Talton as his beautiful assistant, a photojournalist, assigned to help in this epic battle between man and mantis.

What’s worse than a horde of locusts? A gigantic man-eating praying mantis, released from a million years of deep, frozen sleep and ready to claw its way to world domination! This menacing insect kills everything in its path while scientists and military men work feverishly to stop it.

When a volcano erupts in the South Seas, it somehow disturbs the arctic and causes a major shift in the polar ice caps. This massive disturbance is also where a prehistoric praying mantis has lain dormant in a frozen state for millions of years. What happens is, when its icy tomb melts, the giant bug thaws out and sets out on a path of destruction. Barely seen in the beginning, The Deadly Mantis wreaks havoc on a local tribe and then moves on to a remote military station.

This is how others discover that something isn’t right because no one is responding so a dispatch team heads out to investigate the area. There are signs that something has happened and whatever it is that caused the damage was massive in scale and this is where The Deadly Mantis is seen and chased down the east coast as it destroys everything in its path. The humans decide to try and drive the mantis toward the ocean but when one of the aircraft crashes into the flying menace, the collision injures the big bad bug so it has to make a crash landing and this is where the humans finally put an end to its path of destruction.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features a classic sales ad for the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some individual artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The Deadly Mantis has been give a new 2K scan from the original film elements. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition upgrade were really good. There’s a little grain in some of the darker scenes but that adds to the charm of this 1957 drive-in movie. I didn’t really have any major issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, The Deadly Mantis was another first time watch for me and I had a blast with it. This 1957 monster movie takes stock footage and makes the best out of a low budget sitution. There were all kinds of monster movies being released during this time and the studios didn’t want to take big risks with creature features like this so they skimped on the budgets. The end result here is a prime example because the creature is about as silly looking as any movie monster ever – the strings and lack of articulation are evident. Needless to say, not much money went to special effects. The movie had to spend more time on its cast so this cut down on camera time with the big bug. The movie is a slow burn that teases the bug just enough to keep your interest but it finally picks up the pace during the second half of the feature where the viewer gets a front row seat as The Deadly Mantis leaves its path of destruction. I’ll check this golden age creature feature cheesefest under the “so bad it’s good” category but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy because I did. As a matter of fact, I got a big kick out of it. The Deadly Mantis will make its Blu-ray debut on March 19th.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 79 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include some new audio commentary, the classic MST3K episode featuring The Deadly Mantis, theatrical trailer and a sill gallery.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with film historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter
  • Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode “The Deadly Mantis” (02/22/97) (92:00)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:09)
  • Still Gallery (07:56)
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3.5

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