Nathan Juran’s giant insect film is a monumentally foolish piece of work even compared to the low standards set by science fiction films of the 1950’s. Not only that, it’s a cheat. The entire first ten minutes of the picture is comprised of stock footage with a duly authoritative narrator informing the viewer about the military alert systems guarding the Western Hemisphere- none of which have anything to do with the film, especially when a good can of bug spray would have worked wonders -with later episodes of action, including an Eskimo village attack using extensive footage from Arnold Fanck’s 1933 “S.O.S. Eisberg”, willfully padded with the assistance of inappropriate and ill-matched file materials. The actual story is a desperate conglomeration of random ideas, concepts and outright thievery, showcasing the alarming poverty of imagination coursing through the Hollywood Dream Factory in regard to a film genre of uptapped limitless possibilities: there are so many plot points in “The Deadly Mantis” that are suspiciously similar to Eugene Lourie’s “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms”, that producer William Alland should have been paying Ray Bradbury for creative royalties. There is a volcanic eruption in the Southern Hemisphere which according to the immutable laws of Cheap B-Movie Physics will result in the releasing of a giant ice-encased praying mantis in the North Pole, which will naturally travel down to nest in New York City’s Manhattan Tunnel by way of Washington D.C. (Someone at the Universal story department is clearly in need of an atlas.), inevitably making a pass at the film’s resident ingenue, who in this case may be scarier than the eponymous macropterous beastie.
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