Written by / 9/01/2016 / No comments / , , , ,

PRODUCER WILLIAM ALLAND PRESENTS 'THE DEADLY MANTIS'

VHS Mantis Cover
THE DEADLY MANTIS: Various military compounds are attacked by an unseen yet formidable menace – an impenetrable force of some kind...

Alland in Kane
In that, only the title reveals the deck – the first half plays out like a mystery rather than a creature-feature, and these are the most effective scenes – TV's PERRY MASON towering gumshoe William Hopper is the only Scientist that may be able to learn the source of what's leftover from a wrecked plane – a piece of whatever had obviously caused it...

The interior shots are effective in sparse B&W, making terrific use of scientific knowledge spouted from Hopper with a confident yet somewhat plain ingenue at his side – how the mysterious cause of destruction is... through pages of exposition... narrowed down into an insect feels like a rare science class that won't put you to sleep. Usually a relaxed, likable actor, Hopper fits the part, not too brainy to be annoying or too manly to be unrealistic...

DEADLY MANTIS Score: ***
And yet the film, being what it is with built-in audience expectation from the title alone is – no matter how aptly the investigation's written – still extremely important when the creature reveals its gloriously bogus buggy form...

That is, with an exception of a KING KONG homage as a real mantis climbs a model of the Washington Tower. Basked in shadow, it's more eerie and creepy than a shortcut for special effects, which occur mostly as the creature's in flight, legs folded up and resembling a cricket-shaped airliner...

Making those few glorious moments during the shift from dialogue to action, when our monster looks immensely phony and fantastic, really matter. And the quick if rushed finale is both a pro and con: The latter since it ends too quick, and the first because, with the most intriguing scenes behind, this particular cinematic beast knows not to wear out its welcome.
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