Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Deadly Mantis


My dear BW has a weakness for Giant Thing movies. Godzilla, King Kong, etc. To be honest, I find them a hoot, also. One of our favorite things is to cuddle up on a rainy day with a super-sized tub of popcorn and the two dogs, and watch some cheesy giant monster movie. The most recent of these was the recently-released-on-DVD The Deadly Mantis. It is a classic of the genre, unintentionally hilarious.

The movie opens with what you assume will be brief map-and-narration exposition about the Arctic, the DEW line, and various defense department projects. This doesn’t end. It goes on for minutes and minutes, with more and more dotted lines drawn on the map. I opine to BW that they must have been hedging their bets, if the movie didn’t work out, they’d just sell the first half to schools for educational purposes. BW just munched her popcorn. At last it ended, and we were on to the meat of the film.

Apparently, millions and millions of years ago, the earth, in addition to the dinosaurs, the Earth was populated by giant praying mantises, who had the power to ignore the squared/cubed law. One of these mantises was caught hanging around the North Pole when an ice age unexpectedly struck, and got frozen solid. In cheesy movies, freezing never hurts anything (see Batman and Robin), so when the giant mantis thaws out, it wakes up, thinks “”holy shit, it's cold around here”, and heads for the equator, flying at high speeds, snacking on humans along the way. But not so fast, my exo-skeleton-wearing friend! The Distant Early Warning system, which kept all of us except me from having to learn Russian, detects the creature, and a crack team of military officers and scientists spring into action, saying insightful things like “The mantis is the deadliest of all predators”, and attacking the mantis with fighter planes, which are no match for the mantis, but finally wear it down, forcing it to land in the continental U.S. There we are treated to the film’s special effects set piece, a quick look at a praying mantis (possibly a grasshopper) walking on a photograph of a building. The creature is finally destroyed through the noble efforts of our brave heroes. But who knows what else is frozen up there?

Highly recommended. Although it can’t stack up against Them!, this is probably one of the top ten all-time giant bug movies.

3 comments:

John Hornor Jacobs said...

What does "BW" stand for?

KentAllard said...

"Beautiful Wife"

John Hornor Jacobs said...

Oh. Damn. Reading comprehension through context...I need to get some of it.