This week on Svengoolie- since summertime always seems to bring along some insect pests to ruin the fun, it seems like the perfect time to bring back the man-eating mantis menace that defrosts and creates a one-bug infestation-featuring an actor we know very well from a certain classic legal drama- it’s the chilling case of "The Deadly Mantis!"
Like so many of these 1950s films, this one starts out with a sort of documentary, utilizing plenty of stock footage, to set up the story (and maybe give it a feeling of scientific credibility?) We hear the narrator present the fact that “for every action, there is a reaction”-and, as proof, we first see a volcano erupting in the South Seas, followed by the reaction-which is the energy it releases heading across the globe, as far as the frigid far northern ice caps, where it cracks glaciers, and melts ice holding a long dormant prehistoric creature -frozen in the ice for centuries in a sort of suspended animation. Its long sleep is interrupted- and it wakes up cranky-and hungry!
Seeming a little like a high school science class film, denoting the establishment of military bases way up North, we are briefed on the Dew Line (Distant Early Warning) System. It seems a far northern Canadian Dew Line outpost has suddenly fallen silent and unresponsive. Col. Parkman, a dashing commanding officer, is sent to investigate- and is shocked to find the outpost totally destroyed-with no sign of the personnel- not even bodies-on the premises! Even more disturbing and confusing- a large oddly shaped imprint is spotted in the snow outside the shambles of the outpost.
Soon after this inexplicable discovery, DEW line radar indicates an unauthorized unidentified flying object in that exact same area. Jets are scrambled to check it out- resulting in one plane being destroyed by- who knows what?! Col. Parkman heads out again to inspect this latest wreckage- and, in searching the destroyed aircraft, finds some large pointed object - which appears to be organic in nature! With no knowledge of what it might be, the military decides to call in an expert - Ned Jackson, a paleontologist who they hope will be able to identify what the object is- and what it came from!
Ned examines it, and thinks he knows its source- though he can scarcely believe his own theory. This spur-like thing may actually be a body part of a familiar carnivorous insect- but one of such great size, that there have not been any such creatures that huge since prehistoric times! There are more reports of mysterious carnage in the frozen North- and Ned, wanting to check on the validity of the conclusion he’s drawn, decides to head towards the top of the globe to try to discover what's going on first-hand- accompanied by Marge, the magazine editor at his museum headquarters, who has decided she needs to go with him to chronicle whatever he finds.
They fly to the Canadian DEW line base where they meet with Col. Parkman, and his staff, who react in stunned appreciation of Marge - since a woman is a rarity in their world. Unfortunately, they're about to meet an even greater rarity- a 200-foot-long praying mantis that attacks their base!
After the incredible attack, the mantis takes off for parts unknown- and the military attempts to track where this gargantuan predator is going. The creature begins to instinctively head to the south where the climate is closer to its warm old prehistoric stomping grounds-while still searching for food to satiate its massive appetite! Its tour of international cuisine wends its way through various human taste treats- leading to it sampling the down-home flavor of American citizens- including a stop for a snack in Washington, D.C.- after which the big bug heads to New York to take a bite out of the Big Apple!
We are happy to be able to bring back this 1957 flick - featuring a cast that includes familiar TV faces like Craig Stevens (“Peter Gunn”) and William Hopper (yes! Paul Drake of “Perry Mason”!) plus the lone female lead Alix Talton. This is again a new HD print of the film, and we’ll add to the entertainment with a Sven song, explanation of where certain stock footage came from (NOT the source many originally thought) and include a chat with some talented friends of ours from the world of comics who are well known for their work on the further adventures of Harley Quinn- Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner!
“The Deadly Mantis” infests your screen on MeTV tonight at 8pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, and, if you’re not sure of what time or channel you can find us on in your area- you can check your local listings, or visit www.metv.com and click on “where to watch”. Our MeTV crew invites you to live -Tweet during the movie on Twitter- just use the hashtag #svengoolie – where you'll often find us trending nationally during the show! Our Chicago area viewers will get another look at another 1950s favorite “Attack of the Puppet People" this morning at 11 am on CW26.
We are hoping to be able to post information on our upcoming public appearances at both the Flashback Weekend horror convention and the C2E2 comics and entertainment convention- both in the same August weekend! Just keep checking the “appearances” tab here on our website-we should be providing the schedules soon. While you are there, make sure to click on the Svengoolie store to see the new merchandise available- with more on the way!
Join us on MeTV tonight- as the mantis leaves his air-conditioned environment to spread terror!