The Deadly Mantis
is a 1956 American film concerning the then-popular mutation and animation of a giant beast, usually prehistoric. In this case, the beast is the eponymous mantis, loosed in the opening sequence of the movie, where it proceeds to destroy many things, progressively eating more people, until an ace pilot accidentally rams the mantis with his jet, forcing it to the ground and kills it. Interwoven into this tale is a romantic sub plot involving the photographer Miss Blake and Colonel Joe Parkman, the Ace.
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
version, please go to the episode recap page
The Deadly Mantis contains the following tropes:
- The Ace: Colonel Joe. He does screw up when he loses sight of the mantis and then collides with it, but it does force the mantis to the ground.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Prehistoric this time, rather than atomic.
- Butterfly of Doom: Mentioned in the opening spiel as the cause for the Deadly Mantis' parole on ice. To be fair, of course, the cause is shown to be a volcano.
- Decoy Protagonist: Zig-zagged; the beginning of the film follows Col. Joe as he investigates a couple of "incidents" caused by the Deadly Mantis; then the focus shifts to museum curator (and Insect Expert) Nedrick Jackson, who appears to take over the lead role... right up until he, Miss Blake and Col. Joe return from the Arctic to track the big bug in New York City, at which time Col. Joe hops back into the driver's seat.
- Developing Doomed Characters: Played with the twist that the monster does appear at the very beginning of the film, but there's a lot of scenes in offices later.
- Dirty Coward: One of the tribesmen abandons another that's trapped when the mantis attacks.
- Info Dump: There are lengthy narrations about map locations and the early warning radar picket lines.
- Misplaced Accent: Why does a Canadian Air Force officer have a "Tally Ho!" British accent?
- Stock Footage: The assembly of North American early warning radar picket lines, which ultimately have nothing to do with the plot other than to establish the location.
- Stock Sound Effect: The roars of the mantis, especially the "MMMUROOOAAAARRROOOOOAAAAARRR" bellow, went on to be the roars of many giant beasts, including Bruce #4 in Jaws: The Revenge.