"But I got a mantis in my pantis."
  — Crow

The movie

Main article: The Deadly Mantis (film)


The Deadly Mantis

In the South Seas, a volcano explodes, eventually causing North Pole icebergs to shift. Below the melting polar ice caps, a 200-foot-long praying mantis, trapped in the ice for millions of years, begins to stir. Soon after, the military personnel at Red Eagle One, a military station in northern Canada that monitors information gathered from the Distant Early Warning Line, realize that the men at one of their outposts are not responding to calls. Commanding officer Col. Joe Parkman flies there to investigate, and finds the post destroyed, its men disappeared and giant slashes left in the snow outside.

When a blip on the outpost's radar screen is soon sighted, Joe sends his pilots out, and one is attacked. Joe searches the wreckage, and this time, in addition to the huge slashes, finds a five-foot-long pointed object in the snow. He takes it to General Mark Ford at the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ford gathers top scientists, including Professor Anton Gunther, to examine the object, but after they fail to identify it, Gunther recommends calling in Dr. Nedrick Jackson, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History.

The Deadly Mantis

When Ned receives the call from Ford, he is helping museum magazine editor Marge Blaine plan her next issue, and later dodges her questions as she begs him for a big scoop. Later, after examining the object, Ned recognizes it as a torn-off spur from an insect's leg, and soon guesses, from evidence that the creature ate human flesh, that it must be a gigantic praying mantis. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, the people of an Eskimo village spot the mantis in the sky, and although they hurry to their boats to escape, it swoops down and kills several men.

Ned is sent to Red Eagle One to investigate further, and upon leaving, discovers that Marge has finagled permission to accompany him as his photographer. They reach the base, where all the men, including Joe, are smitten by Marge's beauty. That night, Marge and Joe join Ned in his office and discuss the creature, not realizing that it is drawing close to the office window. Marge suddenly catches sight of it and screams, and the bug attacks the building. Although the full unit opens fire on the mantis with automatic rifles and a flame-thrower, it is unscathed and moves away only after planes encircle it.

Hours later, the base remains on red alert, but they finally hear that the bug has attacked a boat off the Canadian coast, which means, Ned calculates, that it is flying at a speed of 200 miles an hour. Ford calls a press conference to announce the bug's existence, and asks the Ground Observer Corps to track its whereabouts. Over the next few days, Ned, Marge and Joe tirelessly track the bug's progress, with the help of military and civilian observers. Late one night, Joe drives Marge home, stopping briefly to ask for, and receive, a kiss. They are distracted by a report of a nearby train wreck, and although they assume it to be an ordinary accident, soon after, a woman leaving a bus sees the mantis, and all emergency personnel are put on alert. The mantis is then sighted in Washington, D.C., atop the Washington Monument.

The Deadly Mantis

Joe is one of the pilots who bravely attempt to drive the bug toward the sea, but a dense fog throws him off course, and he flies directly into the mantis. As the wounded mantis drops to the ground and crawls into the Manhattan Tunnel, Joe safely parachutes to the ground. Ford heads a team that seals off the tunnel, filling it with smoke to provide cover for Joe and his special unit of men, who enter the tunnel armed with rifles and three chemical bombs. They creep past wrecked cars until suddenly the bug appears in the fog only a few yards ahead of them. They shoot at it, but it lumbers on, forcing them backward. The mantis seems immune to the ammunition and the first chemical bombs until, only feet from the tunnel entrance, Joe throws a bomb in its face, and it collapses, dead. Later, Ford, Ned, Joe and Marge enter the tunnel to examine the bug. Marge photographs its face while the men walk around its side, but Joe suddenly sees the mantis' arm move, and runs to protect Marge. Although Ned explains that the bug's movement was merely an autonomic reflex, Joe takes the opportunity to pull Marge into an embrace. [1]


  • Some of the Arctic scenes in The Deadly Mantis were culled from the 1933 drama SOS Iceberg and a handful of Air Force training films. [2]
  • Alix Talton was reunited with William Hopper the following year 1958 on the Perry Mason TV series episode "The Case of the Long-Legged Models" in the role of Eva Elliot.
  • During the movie, the Air Force sends out a message to members of the Ground Observer Corps asking for help in spotting the mantis. This was a real group that existed in two incarnations. The first was during World War Two, and was comprised of civilians who received basic training in spotting and identifying aircraft. It ended in 1944. The GOC was revived in 1950 as part of the Cold War, and was discontinued in 1958 (primarily due to advances in RADAR).

The episode

Host Segments

  • Bobo and Dr. Peanut with the bomb

    Prologue It's business casual day on the Satellite of Love. Tom makes up useless dress codes and implies that Mike is breaking them. Mike counters that they're not a business so the entire exercise is foolish.
  • Earth blows up

    Segment 1 In Deep Ape Bobo and Dr. Peanut are helping theirs friends from the mutant H-Bomb cult (Beth "Beez" McKeever, Bill Corbett and Paul Chaplin) reactivate the nuclear warhead that they worship. Though the apes are struggling at first a helpful suggestion from Mike sets them on the right track and they repair the bomb quickly. Pearl sees this and tells Bobo to start Mike's movie while she flees. Mike begs the nanites to repair The Satellite of Love and only finds one on duty that day. The lone nanite refuses to do it without a work order. After some arguing Mike's work order is found. The nanite repairs the SOL so rapidly Mike doesn't notice the control panel that instantly sprung up on the table in front of him. He steers the satellite to a safe distance seconds before the bomb detonates.

    The SOL listens to space radio

  • Segment 2 Tom puts on a minister's vestments and performs a eulogy for Pearl and the other inhabitants of the planet Earth. Their solemn service is interrupted when Pearl turns out to be alive. She's in her van, The Widowmaker, with a revolver trying to shoot the Satellite of Love. Pearl discovers that Bobo has stowed away on her space van. She hands him a gun but Bobo only manages to shoot himself in the foot twice. Gypsy takes control of the ship and evades Pearl by hiding behind an asteroid.
  • Crow gets eaten

    Segment 3
    Mike dozes off at the wheel of the Satellite of Love. He and the bots (with the exception of Crow, who just mainly sleeps it off for most part of the segment) try to stay awake by listening to the space radio. All the channels they can pick up only play space country and western music, much to everyone's annoyance.

    Pearl survives

  • Segment 4 Tom tries his hand at steering the satellite. He accidentally hits a space creature, much to his despair. Crow goes to check on the blue, blob-like creature (Patrick Brantseg) and brings it inside. The creature proceeds to eat Crow. After several failed rescue attempts Mike gets the creature to regurgitate Crow, though he comes out partially digested.
  • Final Segment Crow serves Mike and Tom a mysterious meatloaf which turns out to be the creature that ate Crow in the last segment. Mike receives a letter from Dr. Peanut who was blasted back to the 22nd century somehow. Dr. Peanut is dating someone who may be Mike's future great granddaughter. Pearl calls to swear she will never give up her pursuit of Mike and the SOL.
  • Stinger Horny Soldier: "She's like a butterfly flying across the lily pond!"


Obscure references

  • Narrator: "For every action..." Mike: "There is a Jackson!":
Action Jackson is a 1988 police action movie starring Carl Weathers. It's considered one of the last of the classic style blaxploitation films ever made.
  • Crow: "In Paraguay, a woman shops. Connection?"
Said in the style of the narrator from The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • Mike: "Summon Queequeg, it's the great white one."
Queequeg is the master harpooner of the Pequod in the book Moby-Dick.
  • Mike: "Radio Free Mantis"
Sung to the tune of R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe".
  • [shot of an airplane] Tom: "John Sununu goes for a haircut."
John H. Sununu was George H.W. Bush's Chief of Staff. He was involved in a highly-publicized travel scandal in which he used military jets and government resources for personal trips. Sununu is also referenced in The Starfighters, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (with this exact same riff) and Monster A-Go Go.
  • Crow: "Oh no, they let Stan Laurel watch the hut."
Stan Laurel was the thin, simple-minded bumbler from the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.
  • Crow: "You know, maybe the army shouldn't have recruited Keith Moon."
Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who, a band notorious for causing major damage to hotel suites with their wild parties. There are several stories of Keith Moon throwing furniture off of hotel balconies and flushing cherry bombs down hotel toilets.
  • "What have you got?" "Rhythm!"
"I Got Rhythm" is an influential jazz standard composed by the Gershwin brothers.
  • "This isn't snow, it's Bon Ami!"
Bon Ami is a powdered household cleanser sold in America for the last 100+ years.
  • Crow: "Django Reinhardt was here!"
Django Reinhardt was a Gypsy jazz guitarist. Crow's reference here probably refers to an accident Reinhardt was in in which the third and fourth fingers of his left hand were badly burned, after which he played all his guitar solos with only two fingers.
  • Mike: "Men, commence tapping the Rockies."
"Tap The Rockies" is a former advertising slogan of Coors Light beer.
  • Mike [to Gypsy]:' "You're like the Shirley Muldowney of deep space."
Shirley Muldowney is a retired professional drag racing driver, who was famous in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Tom: "Herbie the misfit elf is wanted for questioning."
Herbie is a character from the stop-motion Christmas cartoon Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Tom: "I've got a callback for Carousel."
Carousel is a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. A callback is a request for an actor to return for another audition after a successful first audition or screen test.
  • Crow: "Charles De Gaulle - security guard."
Charles De Gaulle was a French colonel and freedom fighter in WWII. He became the French Prime Minister in the 60's.
  • Crow: "Damn, another 10,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."
Referring to the Beatles song "A Day in the Life". The original lyrics are "I read the news today oh boy | Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire | And though the holes were rather small | They had to count them all"
  • Crow: "It's the Mighty Quinn!"
The Mighty Quinn is a fictional Eskimo character from the Bob Dylan folk-rock song "Quinn the Eskimo".
  • Mike: "He's trading in his Chevy for a Kayak-ak-ak-ak-ak!"
Mike is parodying the Billy Joel song "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)". The original line is "He's trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac."
  • Tom: "Charles Whitman lends a hand."
Charles Whitman was the mass murderer who killed or wounded 45 people when he brought a case of long range hunting rifles and shotguns up to the top of the clock tower at the University of Texas and opened fire on the crowd below in 1966.
  • Mike: "Ahhh... Pismo Beach and all the clams I can eat!"
Mike is paraphrasing the Bugs Bunny cartoon Ali Baba Bunny.
  • Crow: "The USS Walter Payton."
Walter Payton was an all-star halfback in the 70's. His jersey number was 34.
  • Crow: "Quick! Poopie suits on!"
Crow is referencing the running gag from The Starfighters.
  • Tom: "She has a temp job as Baskerville castle." Mike: "She's a waitress at the International House of Usher."
The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Fall of the House of Usher are two suspense tales set in foggy moors of England. They were written by Arthur Conan Doyle (as part of his Sherlock Holmes series) and Edgar Allen Poe, respectively.
  • Tom: "What color is that parachute?"
What Color Is Your Parachute? is a self-help book about career choices and navigating the job market.
  • Mike (imitating Richard Nixon): "She was wearing a good Republican cloth coat..."
A line from the "Checkers speech" Richard Nixon gave on September 23, 1952, to defend himself against charges that he used campaign funds improperly. The "Republican cloth coat" line refers to his wife Pat, and the fact she did not own a fur coat (to show that they hadn't gotten rich from politics).
  • Mike: "Kelsey, throw us the keys."
Kelsey Grammer is a TV actor who got into a car accident while intoxicated the year before this episode aired.
  • Tom: "This is a bug hunt man, a bug hunt!"
A phrase uttered by Bill Paxton in the movie Aliens.

Memorable quotes

Narrator: For every action...
Mike [as Narrator]: There is a Jackson.
[The movie opens with a review of North American defense monitoring stations.]
Narrator: Another radar fence stretches across the long, unfortified border between the United States and Canada...
Servo [as Narrator]: Canada, our mortal enemy.
Narrator: ... the Pine Tree Radar Fence.
Mike [as Narrator]: The natural radar of pine trees protects our northern borders.
[The camera pans by Greenland on a map.]
Crow: You know what? Screw you Greenland!
[A volcano erupts.]
Servo [as the Menards Guy]: It's a magma flow of savings at Menards!
[A museum guard salutes Dr. Jackson]
Mike: Uh, you don't need to salute the paleontologist.
[A Corporal at the Arctic base acts like he's having a nervous breakdown after Marge Blaine appears.]
Crow: Yeah, I think this guy's familiar with dishonorable discharge.
[The rather effeminate-looking General Ford explains to the media that the mantis is real]
General Ford: I want to say at the outset that, contrary to rumor and certain newspaper headlines...
Crow [as Ford]: I'm not gay!
Crow [as Col. Parkman]: But I've got a mantis in my pantis.
Servo: Are we in the Southern portion of the Galaxy?

Behind the scenes

MST3K cast

Guest cast


  • This marks the first appearance of the bridge steering wheel, which seems to materialize and dematerialize as needed.
  • This marks the first appearance of The Widowmaker, Pearl’s VW astro-bus.
  • This episode was ranked #98 among backers of the Bring Back MST3K Kickstarter in the Top 100 Poll.

Video releases


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