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The Deadly Mantis (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory is digging into the atomic age Universal monster horror movies, continuing with 1957’s The Deadly Mantis. This comes on the heels of the February release of The Mole People. Like that atomic Blu-ray, they are also including the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the film. Its a very nice added touch to these release that I hope continue on with the more releases we see. This one doesn’t have quite the bonus features that one did beside that (Mole People had a very fun retrospective documentary), but we are seeing a new 2K scan of the film for the presentation. This one will be releasing to you on March 19th, but you can go ahead and put your pre-orders in now by using the Amazon link below!

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Film 

This menacing insect kills everything in its path while scientists and military men work feverishly to stop it. Craig Stevens (Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde) stars as the commander in charge of putting an end to this beastly insect with William Hopper (20 Million Miles To Earth) as the paleontologist and Alix Talton (The Man Who Knew Too Much) as his beautiful assistant, a photojournalist, assigned to help in this epic battle between man and mantis!

On the previous Scream Factory atomic age monster movie release, The Mole People, a retrospective documentary warned of the productions following it to get much cheaper and less passionate. While they were off or wrong at all, I have to say I enjoyed The Deadly Mantis far more than The Mole People. Its still not a good film, but there are some admirable spots from time to time between boredom and stock footage that I can appreciate.

While this is an elder creature feature from the 1950s, I was pretty impressed with many of the sequences of the Mantis. Yes, its still the 1950s and quite obvious its a rubber monster in a model set. However, they really do feel like they are trying to bring this thing to life and make it believable. There are great lighting, camera angles/movements and atmospheric effects to try and make this thing buyable to an audience. It works just enough to earn my respect.

The new restoration of the film is pretty impressive, but I don’t think it saves the film or would have me now preferring this over the standard definition Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode (Where the film has also been cropped from its proper aspect ratio). This is the perfect film to lend to that show and it only makes it more enjoyable. The film is overloaded with some pedestrian characters in repetitive scenes and scenarios that are both pedestrian on the page and in performance which is chalked full of stock footage. If you’re not MST3K’ing it with this one, make sure to have a friend with you when watching (Or a bowl or a brew or both).

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory lists that this has been brought to Blu-ray with a new 2K scan from the original film elements. And it has turned out quite terrific. The film is quite sharp with a really impressive attention to detail and great clarity in the image. Some of the rear projection effects are more apparent here, but there’s a clarity to them with razor sharp focus on both that is both fascinating and obvious at the same time (Normally one or the other is blurrier or more dated looking).

Depth: Solid depth of field with the image. The pushback feeling isn’t incredibly strong, but can impress from time to time. Motion is cinematic and smooth in nature and no distortions reared their head.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and manage to have some solid saturation and retain much detail and shading throughout. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a nice white/gray to them and are consistent start to finish. Facial features and texture appear quite clear an crisp in close ups and also impress in medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: N/A

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The mono track provided on the release is pretty clear and impressive at times. It does carry a nice analog hissing sound throughout. The film does manage to get deep and consumes the room more than you’d image. The mix is pretty well balanced and feels plenty loose for a film of this age.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. There is an old analog hiss present in the source.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Tom Weaver and David Schecter

MST3K Episode: “The Deadly Mantis” (SD, 1:32:16)

Still Gallery (HD, )

Trailer (SD, 2:09)

Summary 

The Deadly Mantis is a fun bit of late 50s atomic era junk food. I prefer the MST3K take, but I’m not gonna fault someone for enjoying the regular version. Scream Factory provides a pretty admirable and impressive presentation in its new 2K video transfer and lossless mono audio track. The bonus Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode is ALWAYS a great gesture as a special feature and the commentary makes up for no interviews/documentary (Plus, I’m not sure there’s anyone still around to genuinely talk to about this that was involved). A solid pick up for fans!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “The Deadly Mantis (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Eric Larson

    First off let me say that I read many of the reviews here and I love the site.. Not sure why it took The Deadly Mantis for me to finally post something.. Anyways great review. Loved this film as a child and look forward to having it on Blu. Keep up the great work 🙂

  2. Brian White

    Thank you for your comment! We appreciate it!