THE MANTIS was made just to do another short
movie after I left college. THE MANTIS was a scifi comedy again,
only much better than PIT STOP and in color. I shot Super 16 film using my own Auricon Pro 600 self-blimped studio camera
and Nagra III audio recorder.
Effects Artist Gene Reynolds played the nameless lead part, looking very much
like Stephen King onscreen. Gene had also built the 9 foot praying mantis marionette of the title that looked and worked fantastic.
We actually shot at Jonathan Green's factory where they make ferilizers, grass
seed and stuff and used one of their delivery trucks.
The story has a mad professor (played by Attorny George Koukus) breaking into
the office of an executive of the fertilizer company trying to force them to buy his super grow plant food. He is thrown out.
The mad scientist sneaks into the factory and puts a box of his secret formula
on a conveyor belt with all the reguler fertilizer that gets loaded into a truck and ends up on the shelf of a nursery and
purchased by the character Gene was playing. Gene's character was like the part Stephen King played in CREEPSHOW many years
later, a kinda dumb guy. We see Gene's character spreading the super grow plant food around his yard, wiping his
nose (coating it with the chemical out of stupidity). At nightfall he goes into his house and makes himself a sandwhich. He
stops eating when he sees a small praying mantis, catches it in a nakpin and throws it out of the window into the trash can.
We see the little mantis poking his head up covered in super grow plant food having fallen into that box within the trash
can. (I used a mantis puppet for this shot and he looks cute and funny, the little head looking up at the window that he was
just chucked from). As Gene sits and eats popcorn like a pig and watches TV, outside the Mantis grows to 9 feet tall because
of the super grow plant food. The mantis gets into the house, grabs Gene and heaves him out the door of the house. Gene gets
up and runs back to the door, now closed and locked, pounding on it to be let back in. We next see the giant mantis sitting
in Gene's spot in the livingroom, watch Tv, eating popcorn and laughing at his human enemy banging on the door. The short
Because Gene's character got the white super grow plant food powder on his nose,
there was talk about having his nose grow huge too, but I don't think we got around to making that makeup appliance.
The interiors/exteriors of what was suppose to be Gene's character's house was
actually my own house, as was the living room. Gene transported the huge praying mantis from his studio in East Orange to
my Neptune home. I think gene kept the Mantis after the shoot.
THE MANTIS was like a live action Warner Brother's 1940s cartoon and was harmless
and fun. Again, if I can find the master I'll see if I can do frame grabs to post here and at some point release it on
DVD with the other shorts.
Unlike most of my stuff this one is rated G and the kids should enjoy it.