Nathan Juran’s “The Deadly Mantis” is the antithesis of every single monster movie ever made. It’s aggressively boring, tedious, and doesn’t even have any kind of camp to compensate for the obvious lack of the monster. Even worse, at almost eighty minutes in length, the monster never actually rears its face on camera until about twenty five minutes in. The rest is stock footage, stock footage, and even more stock footage!
Thanks to a massive explosion, a giant preying mantis is unleashed from its frozen glacial prison. Now with its ability to flee from its cold prison, Palaeontologist Nedrick Jackson and his comrades try to investigate where it’s gone and how to stop it after its left behind one of its appendages. With Nedrick falling in love with his assistant, Marge Blaine, Nedrick and the military pursue the monster that has begun preying on random bystanders in New York—while not… actually eating them or anything.
“The Deadly Mantis” is dull, almost sadistically boring. There’s always something redeeming with every monster movie, but director Juran never quite has anything to work with here, so he pads the entire movie with as much filler as humanly possible. Characters literally take minutes and minutes to theorize about animals and bugs, and then they openly debate about the evolution of animals, and whatnot. Every single time there’s the hint that we’re headed in to some giant monster rampaging, director Juran side steps it in favor of more over explaining, and more stock footage.
“The Deadly Mantis” (if you can stay awake) watches with the vicious monster like an absolute afterthought, as it takes a complete back seat to a lot of science mumbo jumbo, and a romance drama between our two heroes. Once the monster rears its head, it’s anti-climactic to say the least, as it garners zero personality, and never sticks like monsters like Godzilla or even the X from Outer Space have.
The new Shout! Factory release comes with a full Audio Commentary with Tom Weaver and David Schecter. There’s also the inclusion of the uncut season eight episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” from 1997 where Mike, Tom, and Crow take on “The Deadly Mantis,” one of their funnier riffs on a giant monster movie, even if they noticeably have a hard time with material since the movie is so lifeless most of the time. Finally, there’s a full Still Gallery, and the original trailer for “The Deadly Mantis.”