Mantis in Lace
|Mantis in Lace|
|Directed by||William Rotsler|
|Produced by||Harry Novak|
|Written by||Sanford White|
|Cinematography||Laszlo Kovacs (credited as Leslie Kovaks)|
|Distributed by||Boxoffice International Pictures (BIP)|
Mantis in Lace is a 1968 sexploitation film directed by William Rotsler and produced by Harry Novak. At least two differently-edited versions have been released, one of which has more emphasis on the sexual aspect of the film and one of which emphasizes its violent storyline. The movie may have also been released under the name of the main character, "Lila".
Lila (played by Susan Stewart) is a good-natured go-go dancer who strips at a seedy topless bar on the Sunset Strip. After ingesting LSD, Lila becomes a psychopathic serial killer. She continues to pick up men at the bar where she is employed, but after her sanity is lost she routinely is interrupted mid-coitus by psychedelic bad trips in which she visualizes a balding, half-naked old man clutching wads of cash in one hand and a bunch of bananas in the other. These psychotic episodes cause her to murder her partners by stabbing them with a screwdriver and dismembering them with a rusty meat cleaver (or in one case, a garden hoe) while imagining that she is cutting up cantaloupes and watermelons.
As pieces of the victims' bodies are discovered in cardboard boxes, she is pursued by a pair of Los Angeles Police Department detectives played by Steven Vincent and M.K. Evans. The narrative is interrupted by long sequences of topless dancing, softcore pornography, and recreational drug use.
Other credited cast members include Pat Barrington, Stuart Lancaster, Janu Wine, John Caroll, John LaSalle, Hinton Pope, Bethel Buckalew, Lyn Armondo, Norton Halper and (as dancers) Judith Crane and Cheryl Trepton.
One tagline for the film was "Let her show you the heat of desire — the face of sin!" The movie poster includes two additional taglines. The first, in large typeface, says "SHE LOVED THEM..and loved them and loved them TO DEATH." The second tagline refers to the sexually cannibalistic tendencies of mantises and warns "Like a female MANTIS...to love her was to DIE!"
The acting is either terrible or nonexistent. The same can be said for the direction and editing. The music score, relying chiefly on an electric guitarist who seems to be making up stuff as he goes along — none of it worthy of the term "improvisation", mind you — lurches from quirky kitsch to agonizing irritant very quickly. The drippy "Lila" theme song, used a gazillion times, should require a warning label on the DVD to prevent mental injury.
Another reviewer warns that after watching this "less than riveting tale" the viewer's "biggest question will be whether you should categorize what you've just seen as a bad trip or merely a bummer"