Mantis in Lace (1968)


aka Lila

USA. 1968.


Director – William Rotsler, Screenplay – Sanford White, Producers – Sanford White, Harry H. Novak & Peter Perry, Photography – Leslie Kovacs, Music – Frank Coe. Production Company – Box Office International Pictures


Susan Stewart (Lila), Steve Vincent (Detective Tom Collins), M.K. Evans (Detective Ryan), Vic Lance (Tiger), Stuart Lancaster (Frank Ackerman), Pat Barrington (Cathy), Bethel G. Buckalew (Bartender), Janu Wine (Angel), Lyn Armondo (Realtor)


The stripper Lila meets the hippie Tiger at work and takes him back to the disused warehouse where she lives. He gives her some LSD as she strips for him. As the LSD starts to have effect on her, she stabs him with a screwdriver and later hacks his body up with a meat cleaver. Police investigate the murder as Lila starts to pick up and kill other men, all the while under the influence of LSD.

Mantis in Lace sounds a fascinatingly torrid film in description – and indeed has been ‘rediscovered’ in recent years by psychotronic audiences. Its themes sound like a checklist of favourite psychotronic elements – lots of women taking their clothes off, psychedelic LSD sequences and the central premise of a female psychopath who strips for her victims and kills them with a butcher’s knife while tripping on LSD.

Despite such promising potential, Mantis in Lace is a much duller film to watch than it sounds in description. It very much wants to bill itself as a psycho-LSD film – tapping into the 1960s fads of both Psycho (1960)-inspired psycho-thrillers and the mini-fad for LSD trip films following the success of Roger Corman’s The Trip (1967). In the end, it is never much more than a 1960s nudie film. Most of the time it consists of little more than scenes of girls taking their clothes off – indeed, it rarely consists of anything else. Strip scenes go on for sometimes ten minutes at a time and the very first strip scene not long after the film begins consists of about fifteen minutes of Susan Stewart gyrating in her underwear and clawing at her victim’s back, during which the camera coyly hides behind various objects in the warehouse.

There is no particular plot any of it – there is a scene with a girl who undresses and has sex with the manager of the bar that goes on for another 5-7 minutes yet has nothing to do with anything else in the film. Occasionally the film cuts back to the two investigating detectives but nothing ever goes on there either. There are one or two interesting psychedelic trip scenes but these are few. It is a fascinatingly lurid but hardly an interesting film.

Director William Rotsler is better known in science-fiction fandom as a cartoonist and writer of various film and tv novelisations. During this era, he sometimes had a secondary career as a director of nudie films.

Full film available online here:-

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