Movie Review: The Deadly Mantis (1957)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1957 monster movie starring William Hopper and Craig Stevens.

Synopsis: A giant prehistoric ancestor of the praying mantis is released from an ice berg in the Arctic. After attacking a military team manning an early warning radar system, the creature begins flying south and ultimately attacks Washington, D.C. and New York City. Can it be stopped before it causes more damage?


My oldest daughter had a rough day at school on Friday so, in an effort to cheer her up, I decided to have a father/daughter movie night. We had a few films on our list. But, after some consideration, I decided to watch this one.

We've actually watched this movie once before, a couple years ago. But, I didn't remember a whole lot about it. After we watched it again on Friday, I ended up having a mixed opinion about it.

When it came to special effects, this movie was what you would expect from the time period. The overall problem with films about giant bugs is they usually end up looking fake and this film really was no exception to that. However, that being said, the bug did, at times at least, appear to be somewhat realistic.

I did find I liked the overall plot of this film. Usually, in movies like this, the bug grows to an abnormal size because of a nuclear test or some other experiment. The fact this was a prehistoric bug that escaped from an iceberg at least was somewhat different.

I also liked the idea of a killer giant insect that was able to fly. This made it much harder to stop it because there was no way to know where it was going to be next, especially since it could fly almost as fast as a jet.

My biggest complaint about this movie is there's just not enough destruction. The mantis attacks the arctic research station, disappears for a while, attacks a ship, disappears again, attacks Washington then goes into hiding in New York. As a result of that, the movie is more about chasing the bug than the bug itself.

I'm also not a huge fan of the first few minutes of this movie, which seems more like a documentary about our early warning systems than a horror movie. The first time I saw that, I almost turned the film off. And, I must confess, that thought crossed my mind this time too.

The Deadly Mantis

It’s man versus insect in The Deadly Mantis, a thrilling classic from the golden age of sci-fi cinema! When a giant, thousand-ton, carnivorous praying mantis is released from it...

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Final Opinion

The movie has some good things going for it. However, because the mantis, itself, really doesn't get to do as much damage as it has the potential to do, it's not as good of a film as it could be.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 09/11/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 04/04/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system does not have The Deadly Mantis among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So I don't expect to be seeing it any time soon.

What would you think, with more action scenes, of a colorized reboot or remake?

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