The Crawling Eye (1958)
Directed by Quentin Lawrence
Starring Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro, Warren Mitchell, Frederick Schiller, Andrew Faulds, Stuart Saunders, Colin Douglas
The Trollenberg Terror originally was a TV serial from 1956, with writer Peter Key trying its best to replicate what Nigel Kneale had been doing. Unfortunately, none of this original series exists so it’s hard to judge it, but damn wouldn’t it be cool to see now? In 1958, a film version was made, this time written by Hammer’s own Jimmy Sangster. It was released in the UK under the same title, but here in the states, it got re-titled to a much more appropriate moniker…The Crawling Eye! I mean, let’s face it, what sci-fi/monster kid wouldn’t be lined up to see that film back then?
The film starts off with a bang with a trio of climbers on the Trollenberg mountain, when one of them starts talking about a fog of some sorts coming in, where he thinks he sees someone. Then we hear a scream and he falls. His two companions pull him up to realize his head has been torn off! Forrest Tucker arrives on the mountain to see an old scientist friend who called for him to visit. It seems that a cloud has settled on one part of the mountain, a radioactive cloud, that doesn’t move. The same thing had happened a few years ago and Tucker took the heat after alerting the authorities and nothing was discovered. But when more deaths occur, they try to figure out just what is going on. It gets even stranger when a climber comes down from the mountain but seems to be different, almost like he’s being controlled! A young psychic girl who is drawn to the mountain area, seems to understand what is going on.
Being a huge fan of these kind of monster flicks from the ’50s, the cooler and crazier the monster was, the better. And when you have a giant creature with one big eyeball looking at you, with tentacles trying to rip your head off…sign me up! Yes, today’s movie fans might laugh and poke fun at these kind of films, and it doesn’t help that this title was one of the early films to be poked at by the MST crew. But for me, I have a special place in my heart for titles like this. They are just simply fun and damn entertaining.
All kidding aside, and how silly the monster might look to the younger audiences, the film does do a pretty good job building up the suspense and terror before we get to see the title terrors. Tucker is playing on the good side this time, unlike his recent British film The Abominable Snowman (1957) and always seem to be able to carry the lead quite well. Laurence Payne, who we would see years later in Hammer’s Vampire Circus, and the rest of the cast keep you interested with what is going on. Once the creatures show, for me, it’s just a blast.
Les Bowie, one of the fore-fathers in the British special effects industry, and probably most known for creating the monster from Hammer’s The Quatermass Xperiment, as well as designing the look of Hammer’s first Frankenstein creature. Here, he creates our title monster and once again, not to beat a dead alien, but I think it is just awesome. I think the real key is to give the audience something they’ve never seen or even thought of before. This is no guy-in-a-rubber-suit, but really does deliver what the title says.
So if you’re looking for a good old-fashion ’50s sci-fi horror flick, you might be surprised how entertaining this one is going to be. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like this before!