Monday, April 21, 2014

The Crawling Eye – It’s looking for you!

By Steve D. Stones

Guilty pleasures don’t get much better than The Crawling Eye (1958). The film was originally entitled The Trollenberg Terror, and is based on a popular six part television series.  The success of the film owes a great deal to the popularity of the Quatermass series in the U.K.  Some film critics suggest The Crawling Eye emulates the Quatermass films of the 1950s.

Two young women – Sarah and Ann Pilgrim - are traveling to Geneva, Switzerland aboard a train when Ann suddenly gets the urge to stop at the town of Trollenberg near the Swiss Alps. Ann is a psychic who is immediately drawn to the mountains. She is able to see into the past by mentioning the death of a climber who was found decapitated on the mountain.

Sarah and Ann check into a local hotel and are accompanied by Alan Brooks - an American United Nations science investigator – played by veteran actor Forrest Tucker. The Hotel Europa is normally booked full this time of year, but the guests cleared out after the death of the climber. His death has made many of the local villagers nervous and superstitious.

Two villagers decide to make a climb up the mountain, despite the recent accident. One of the climbers is attacked inside a mountain shack by an unknown, unseen presence. The other climber is thought to be lost on the mountain. He later shows up at the hotel and tries to attack Ann. Brooks kills him with a gun.

A search crew heads up the mountain to find the two missing climbers – led by Brooks.  When they arrive at the shack, they find the decapitated body of one of the climbers lying on the floor under a bed. The entire shack is frozen. The men are puzzled to see that the door and windows were barred from the inside.

Brooks later meets a science research team working at the top of the Swiss Alps in a giant observatory. The research team has been monitoring a radioactive cloud on the mountain that occasionally moves, but mostly remains static. One scientist suggests that the cloud is controlled by some alien force from outer space.

The cloud eventually moves up the mountain to the observatory. It first moves to the hotel and unleashes giant eye creatures with tentacles. The hotel guests take a cable car up to the observatory to be protected from the eye creatures.  Brooks orders military planes to bomb the creatures, which destroys them.

The special effects of The Crawling Eye are outdated and laughable, but this just adds to the enjoyable charm of the film. The giant, slimy eye creatures with long tentacles are high camp at its very best.  Actor Forrest Tucker once mentioned that The Crawling Eye and another British feature he starred in – The Cosmic Monsters (1958) were both made for peanuts.  The two films make a great double-feature to see together. Happy viewing!

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