The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/19/15
Cast: Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Alix Talton

An enjoyable giant monster romp that suffers only from overbearing Cold War sensibilities and offensively lascivious military personnel. A volcanic eruption in the Antarctic somehow unthaws a gigantic frozen praying mantis in the Arctic Circle. Searching for food and warmth, the mantis heads South, feeding on whatever people it runs across. Colonel Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens) and paleontologist Ned Jackson (William Hopper) investigate a series of mysterious events caused by the creature and finally deduce what it is. Once identified, the military turns its attention towards the creature as it makes its way to Washington DC, and an aerial battle forces the mortally wounded mantis to retreat into the Manhattan Tunnel.

Like many sci-fi horror films from the 1950's, this one utilizes a lot of documentary military footage, and it's arguably the most interesting aspect of the film. The opening narration also gives a fascinating overview of the early warning radar outposts north of the US border that protect the country from sneak attacks coming over the North Pole. The Communist paranoia is very real and tangible. The mantis effects and miniature photography are decent, and smoke and fog are used to great effect for creating depth and tension. The acting is good and magazine reporter Alix Talton is quite charming. The only disappointment is that men completely lose their minds when she's around, which is very uncomfortable to watch.