Movie Review: The Deadly Mantis

(1957)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Alix Talton, Donald Randolph, Pat Conway,
Florenz Ames, Paul Smith, Phil Harvey

“One of the worst SF films made by Universal.”

The above quote is from writer/film critic/historian Bill Warren. Granted, he makes a lot of valid points in criticism, but as much as I respect him and his work, I have to completely disagree with him on this one. Out of all the ’50s giant monster flicks, The Deadly Mantis remains one of my favorites. Maybe it comes down to the simple fact that I think this is one of the best looking creatures in these films. Or that I fondly remember this one as a kid and it has always stuck in my head. And I will say, that while Warren, and a lot of others, refer to this as a science fiction picture, let us get one thing perfectly clear. When you have a giant monster attacking cities and killing people, that right there, my friends, is horror, plain and simple. Continue reading

Friday Favorites: BUGS!

In honor of heading out to the Skyline Drive-In this weekend for their Super Monster Movie Fest, featuring an array of movies dealing with bugs, we thought that this Friday we’d go with one of the tried and true themes back in the ’50s were ordinary insects or spiders that were somehow cause to grow to enormous sizes. That’s right, let’s celebrate the tiny beasts that we all know someday will take over the planet! Now we’re looking for your favorite bug movie, so it doesn’t have to be a giant one, like Them! (1954) or Deadly Mantis (1957), but could be just intelligent cockroaches like in William Castle’s Bug (1975), or maybe killer bees, like in The Swarm (1978).

As a kid, I loved all of these kind of movies. Even remembering being terrified watching The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) as he battled the normal size spider that had become a giant monster to him! But from giant tarantulas, to praying mantis, to even grasshoppers, they were always so much fun.

So? What about you? What is your favorite BUG movie!

BUGS at the Skyline Drive-In!

SMMF 2020 - BUGS Banner

This year’s Super Monster Movie Fest at the Skyline Drive-In, in Shelbyville, IN, is having an all bugs themed movie marathon! Taking place on August 28th and 29th, you’ll get to see older classics along with some more modern day ones, all dealing with giant bugs! Here’s the complete lineup: Continue reading

Horror History: Reynold Brown

reynoldbrownReynold Brown
Born Oct. 18th, 1917 – Died Aug. 24th, 1991

You probably have never heard of the name Reynold Brown, which is a tragedy. This man’s work is recognized by millions of film fans, but sadly they don’t even realize who Brown was. In the years before the internet, if there is one job in the movie business that is probably responsible for getting to people to come to the movies, it was the artists creating the movie poster. This was what the future audience was going to look at and decide that they had to come back next week to see that movie, so the image had to jump out at them and draw them in immediately. And one of these guys responsible for that in the ’50s through the ’60s, was Reynold Brown.

Between 1951 and 1970, he created somewhere between 250 and 275 movie posters.  And a LOT of them, I guarantee that you’ve seen before. Titles like Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, This Island Earth, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or even The Deadly Mantis. Each one of these pieces truly is a work of incredible art. Not only just recreating a giant monster on the poster, but creating a story right there in one lookBeing left-handed, at a time when that wasn’t ‘normal’, his grammar school teachers forced him to write “properly” with his right hand. Of course, he still used his left hand to doodle and draw. And that he did. He continued to draw all through high school, even getting a scholarship for an art school, but couldn’t go because of the death of his father. But he still continued to work on his talent, eventually working on a comic strip called Tailspin Tommy. After the advice of one of his heroes, Norman Rockwell, he got a job as an illustrator at North American Aviation, doing technical illustrations for service manuals. He eventually worked as a freelance illustrated for years, eventually getting a teaching job as Art Center College, which he did for 26 years.

In 1951, he did his first movie poster, for the film The World in His Arms. Some of his posters are iconic and ones that we’ve been seeing for years. So Reynold Brown is a name that needs to be remembered for his work in this field, and for creating such incredible works of art, making us want to see those movies over and over again. The sad part is that there were times that Brown, and a lot of other movie poster artists, were not allowed to sign their names on the artwork. That is a real tragedy.

Check out the official website by clicking HERE. There was also a documentary on him made in 1994 called The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters, which is available to watch on YouTube. Below is part one, then you should be able to see the links for the other three parts. It definitely is worth a watch.