804. The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Bagging mostly poor notices The Deadly Mantis (1957) opened sharing screens with the spy pic The Girl in the Kremlin (1957). TV Guide pegged it as “A lame rip-off of the sci-fi classic Them!” The title creature at its largest is a papier mache model of a mantis fabricated for filming and operating on a hydraulic system. 200 feet long, 40 feet high, and having a wingspan of 150 feet, it dwarfed over the two smaller models. One six feet long and the other one feet long. These were applied in the walking and flying bits. Upclose footage of a real Praying Mantis is shown as it climbs The Washington Monument. Dress Codes, Mutant H-Bombs, Nanites, The Widowmaker, Space Radio, Blobloaf. “The world is closed due to massive amounts of snow”, “The map you’re about to see is true”, “Hi folks, don’t worry I’ll be in the picture from here on in.” “Hose down another tarp” or “Should we narrow it further?”

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@Satoris720. Open For Business.

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The Blob.

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Mutant H-Bomb Detonation.

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Space Radio.

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Is it just me, or does this movie have the same plot as The Giant Claw? I seem to recall getting a strong sense of deja vu when I watched that not too long ago. I think the weird vulture thing is a bit goofier than the mantis, though.

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The scene that makes me laugh so hard is the one where they’re all talking and the mantis is just hanging out outside the window for like five minutes before anyone notices and then it starts attacking.

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Clearly the creature is feeling humbled because it ate Crow.

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Giant bug/animal movies make for such good experiments. And what’s funny is, this one wasn’t created by radiation! This was the very first episode of Mst3K I ever saw, so it holds a special place in my heart. It’s still one of my favorites even though I’ve seen it so many times I practically have it memorized. Crow’s voice as the mantis cracks me up every time. He sounds conspicuously like Brain Guy!

Favorite riff,

I’ve got a Mantis in my pantis!

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Ahhh Deadly Mantis, the movie which taught all us younger-than-boomers about the Dew Line…

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It’s amazing. :slight_smile:

I’ve actually never seen the MST3K version of the movie, but I have seen it unriffed a few times via Svengoolie and it’s a good, goofy 50s monster movie even on its own.

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oh ditto! I daresay it’s probably the third best giant bug movie after THEM! and Tarantula.

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Anything involving the old gentleman was comic gold, but there was one riff in particular that was god-tier:

Servo: “Get back in your little boat, Grandpa.”

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Another gold sequence, when the unlikable colonel starts copping an attitude, and really, just like our riffers, it’s impossible to NOT root for the old guy and egg him on against that jerk here:

Servo: “HERE WE GO!”
Crow: “Hit him!”
Mike: “Punch him!”
Servo: “Kick his ass!”
Mike: “Take him now!”
Servo: “C’mon!”
Crow: “Punch him in the throat!”

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@optiMSTie You covered the Greatest Hits. Is this show as a whole worthy?

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Oh, no doubt. I’d easily put that well within my top 100.

It feels like MST3K gets its best mileage (har) out of giant critter/kaiju films, and The Deadly Mantis certainly applies.

What helps is that it has such an earnest and self-serious tone about itself, especially at the beginning, that the gang can turn on its head really easy. All that stuff at the beginning with the radar system and such? Again, kinda like the Gesture Professor in The Mole People, that functions almost like an MST3K short, and the gang is able to capitalize on that beautifully. I mean, hell, it gives us one of the classic Menards riffs: “It’s a magma flow of savings at MENARDS!!!”

I have to admire the movie taking its sweet time to SHOWING us the deadly mantis, but when they riff on it, it’s grand, like comparing him to the Grinch as he creeps up on a building. The scene of the Inuits fleeing from the mantis lends itself well to some solid riffs, too: “Last one to the Gulf of Mexico buys lunch!”

If there’s a star in the riffing targets, it’s the old guy:

Old guy: “All of us are agreed to accept one thing…”
Mike as the old guy: “… Angela Lansbury’s hot!”

And while the aerial hunt for the mantis is a hoot (“The June Taylor Fighter Planes!”), I’m partial to the underground hunt for the wounded bug: “Uh, Colonel, if we frag you, don’t take it personally.”

It feels impossible to discuss this episode without bringing up the “But there’s a mantis in my pantis!” riff, but I have to say that I love how that scene inspires another golden but less celebrated observation from Crow: “What’s he’s doing with his jaw? That, that’s chilling! Yuck!”

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Another mostly-not-bad episode dragged down for me by a last-minute barrage of unneeded nastiness dialed up to 11:

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