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Image Entertainment presents
Mantis In Lace (Lila) (1968)

Lila: What's that?
Tiger: Acid, baby, the stuff dreams are made of.

- Susan Stewart, Vic Lance

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 20, 2001

Stars: Susan Stewart, Steve Vincent, M.K. Evans
Other Stars: Vic Lance, Pat Barrington, Janu Wine, Stuart Lancaster, John Caroll, John LaSalle, Hinton Pope, Bethel G. Buckalew, Lyn Armondo, Norton Halper, Judith Crane, Cheryl Trepton
Director: William Rotsler

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexual situations, violence, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:27m:08s
Release Date: March 06, 2001
UPC: 014381974324
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C B-A-A- B

DVD Review

Ah, the 1960s and early 1970s, a time of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. It was also the time when producer Harry Novak, the "King of Camp " and "Sultan of Sexploitation," made his mark producing sleazy exploitation films including several collaborations with director William Rotsler (aka Shannon Carse*) including The Agony Of Love, The Girl With The Hungry Eyes, Suburban Pagans* and our feature for today, Mantis In Lace (aka Lila), which is presented here in its most complete, uncut form. You know you're in for a treat when the chapter stops have titles such as Mammalian Protuberances (someone at Image is a Zappa fan) and Lotsa Blood and a Meat Cleaver. If you're looking for mindless camp with lots of gratuitous nudity and violence, you found the right disc.

"Groovy pad you got here, a little kinky, but it's out of sight." - Tiger

Lila has a job as a topless dancer, and enjoys taking men back to an abandoned warehouse where she sets up her after hours entertainment. She likes things to happen her way, and on her terms, otherwise she kind of freaks out. When she takes the hippy and trippy Tiger (Vic Lance) home, he suggests they take a little something to make it special, and they drop acid together, her first time. Little does he expect that in the middle of their sexcapade, that she'll trip out and begin hacking at him with a screwdriver, then finish him off with a meat cleaver for good measure! (Note to self: If you find her with a cleaver, it's best to up and leave her). After finding all the bits abandoned in a cardboard box, we then meet Sergeant Collins (Steve Vincent) and Lieutenant Ryan (M.K. Evans), whose job it is to, literally, put the pieces back together and find the killer. The next night, she meets Frank Ackerman (Stuart Lancaster), a psychologist doing field research. Once again she invites him back to her pad, does more acid, and after doing her striptease foreplay routine, shivs the guy while he's trying to make it with her. A little chopping spree, and the cops have another case on their hands, but at least they have some leads. Will they catch her before she stuffs another box full of body parts?

Well, if you haven't been dissuaded by the award winning plot, then you'll hardly be bothered by the bad acting or cheesy dialogue either, which is of course the whole point! I mean, you have the essential ingredients for a great film here. First, is a topless dancer, which means at least 20 minutes of footage of girls dancing topless. Then, you have a murderer, and to spice that up and get away from too much groovy talking, we'll make her freak out on acid, and get the whole psychedelic thing happening, with slide projections on the actors and the old in and out of focus effect. Styling! Then, right when you think you know what's going to happen, we'll cut in a sex scene with two characters we haven't met yet, and instead of the funky rock soundtrack we'll use an orchestra, well, most of the time anyway. I guess we should have some semblance of a plot, so we'll get a couple of dicks working the case to tie it all together. Throw in a guest appearance by Stuart Lancaster, who has credits on just about every Russ Meyer flick produced, and you have a great showcase for low buck, sexploitation at its finest (or whateverest). Did I mention this was filmed by Leslie Kovacs, of Easy Rider, Shampoo and Ghostbusters fame?

But the show's not over yet!

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It always amazes me that films from major studios can be in such bad condition when I see a print like this one. Filmed in Eastmancolor, this has that familiar color tint to it, but otherwise looks way better than a film like this should. There are two instances of print damage that I could count, otherwise this is a pristine print with nothing mentionable in the way of dust or dirt. The colors can be vibrant or washed out a bit, but considering the age and film stock this looks really good. The image is a bit soft, grain is present, though well rendered, and things are a bit on the dark side, however that looks more like a production issue than a problem in the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2-channel mono soundtrack is well preserved, with little hiss or distortion. Frequency range is limited as expected. Suits the film quite well.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Curious Dr. Humpp, The Mad Butcher, Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks
150 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Alternate version of psychedelic murder scene
  2. Harry Novak propaganda art
  3. Short films: LSD Trip Or Trap, Alice Goes To Acid Land, Girl In A Cage
Extras Review: I find it quite interesting that some major motion pictures can come to DVD without as much as a trailer, yet some sleaze trash like Mantis In Lace is loaded with extras, over two hours worth!

The disc opens with a skippable Something Weird promo clip with excerpts from other releases. First in the extras, we get Lila's theatrical trailer, followed by an alternate version of the film's first psychedelic murder scene, which, while I don't think it would have fit in with the style of the rest of the movie, is definately more interesting visually, along with containing substantially more nudity.

Then we get never-before-seen deleted scenes, in fact 01h:46m worth - for those not paying attention, that's longer than the feature! These are mostly alternate takes of pretty much the whole film, with yet more nudity, more freaky murder shots, even more girls not used in the final cut. There are also a couple of cameos by (I'm assuming) the production staff. The scenes are broken into 7 chapters, and are accompanied by a mix of theme music, non-screen specific dialogue, or sound effects. Oh, and guys, don't call the phone number on the warehouse door, okay?

But wait, there's more! We also get three shorts— all drug related. LSD: Trip Or Trap! is Sid Davis' 18m:43s anti-LSD propaganda film. Chuck and Bob are best friends, until the world of LSD tears them apart. Chuck gets seduced into using LSD, while Bob does library research on the drug instead. This short contains photographs of deformed infants and plenty of background on the origins and effects of LSD. Of course the consequences are dire for poor old Chuck. Typical classroom scare tactics, though the message is honorable. Next up is Alice Goes To Acid Land, another 12m:06s short, though I'm not sure what the purpose of this one is, other than to suggest that taking LSD will turn you into a catatonic lesbian. A good excuse for overlays of naked girls I guess. Finally, we get 05m:53s Girl In A Cage , which is exactly what the film is: a girl, a cage, and a cockatoo, in widescreen no less. She of course does a striptease to frantic 1960s bongo music, with the hypodermic finale as a warning to all.

In the next extra, we get a gallery of Harry Novak exploitation art, which is comprised of a 03m:20s still slide show featuring poster art from his collection of films, set to radio promo spots for a soundtrack. Check out posters for classics like The Pigkeeper's Daughter, Please Don't Eat My Mother, The Midnight Plowboy, and Venus In Furs.

The Something Weird Trailer Park houses trailers for other DVD releases including The Curious Dr. Humpp (which has the SWV slug present), The Mad Butcher, Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks, more high art for your viewing pleasure.

Talk about bang for your buck.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Don't try to get her high, or you can kiss your life goodbye, cause man, when she's peaking, she's really freaking! Image and Something Weird have once again delivered an outstanding package for a not so outstanding film. Mantis In Lace is sexploitation on drugs, which it does with a reasonable amount of style, if little else. While perhaps not as fun as some of their drive-in double features, the disc is packed with goodies, and the three shorts alone are worth the price for their historical value and interest - the fact that you get over an hour and a quarter of deleted scenes is a bonus. Anyone who expects taste or artistic merit will be disappointed, but if you want trash with lots of cleaverage, you got it. Immensly groovy in a freaky kind of way. Dig?


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