A catastrophic volcanic eruption in the South Pacific creates a chain reaction that causes icebergs to crumble at the North Pole, freeing a gigantic praying mantis that has been in deep freeze for millions of years.
It finds its way to a US military base in northern Canada and destroys it then makes its way to the States, pursued by Colonel Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens), Professor Anton Gunther (Florenz Ames), Dr Nedrick Jackson (William Hopper) and magazine editor Marge Blaine (Alix Talton).
After attacking an Eskimo village it becomes clear that the mantis preys on human flesh and is heading straight towards Washington DC to terrorise some well-known national landmarks.
Despite the obviously meagre budget (overuse of stock footage and cheap sets), the mantis itself is quite impressive (it’s sometimes played by a 200-foot-long, 40-foot-high papier-mâché model). There are also moments of unintentional humour, such as when our baffled heroes discuss their inability to locate the mantis while it passes silently past a window behind them.
The Mantis eventually makes it to New York, fighting off some jet fighters along the way. The climax comes in the Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River (called the Manhattan Tunnel in the film).
Col. Joe Parkman
Dr Nedrick Jackson
Maj. Gen. Mark Ford
Sgt. Pete Allen
Prof. Anton Gunther
Lt. Fred Pizar
Group Captain Hawkins
Capt. Frank Carver