Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Poster for The Deadly Mantis (1957)The Deadly Mantis (1957) by #NathanJuran
w/ #CraigStevens #WilliamHopper #AlixTalton

When a melting iceberg releases a prehistoric giant praying mantis, a palaeontologist works with the military to kill it after it attacks scientific outposts on its way to Washington and New York.

“The most dangerous monster that ever lived!”
“A Thousand Tons of Horror! From A Million Years Ago…”

#Horror #SciFi #Giant #Monster

At the risk of repeating myself…

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a TV show that I discovered when I was young. It aired late on Saturday nights and was called Not Quite Classic Theatre. As I said back then, “perhaps ‘show’ isn’t the right word for it. It was a time slot during which the TV station would air old B-movies.” I wrote that “watching those old monster movies inspired and excited me in a way that no other movies had. I loved them, and I loved that they gave me ideas and made me want to write.” Basically, watching movies on Not Quite Classic Theatre helped to make me into the person that I am today (for better or for worse).

I had already grown up watching back and white classics like Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931) – and I loved them. But the movies on Not Quite Classic Theatre were different. They were black and white, and they were (mostly) monster movies, but they tended to be less famous and respected. Many of them were from the late fifties and early sixties (so a whole other era of horror and sci-fi movies). These included the giant bug movies – some of which I’d heard of, but never seen (like Tarantula (1955) – as well as some lesser known sequels involving classic monsters like the Wolfman (don’t ask me which ones, because it’s all a bit of a blur now).

The Deadly Mantis (1957) is one of the movies that I have a strong memory of watching on Not Quite Classic Theatre. As such, watching it again now elicits powerful feelings of nostalgia in me. Objectively, it’s not as good a movie as Tarantula (1955), but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

I’m not sure if I appreciated it at the time, but The Deadly Mantis sort of begins in Canada, at the DEW Line – or Distant Early Warning Line. This was a system of radar stations in the arctic that would be able to detect nuclear missiles (or any other attack) coming from the U.S.S.R. and heading for the U.S.A.. In The Deadly Mantis, the DEW Line seems to be manned by U.S. military people. In reality, I think it was a mix of U.S. and Canadian personnel, but I don’t really know a lot about it.

It’s at the DEW Line that the unidentified flying creature (The Deadly Mantis) is first detected – and first wreaks havoc. From there it gradually heads south and winds up in the USA, where it continues kicking butt and taking names.

Those with a taste for giant bugs running amok will find much to enjoy in The Deadly Mantis. It’s got pretty much everything that one might hope for in such a movie. On the other hand, those who hate bugs (giant or otherwise), or black and white monster movies in general, will probably not be won over by this one. But I think that anyone who chooses to watch a movie called The Deadly Mantis made in 1957 – with a poster like the one it has (see above) – should probably know what they’re getting into.

The Deadly Mantis (1957) is one of the very movies that made me a fan of #NotQuiteClassicCinema all those years ago. It will always have a special place in my heart, and an open invitation to screen on any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.