Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Review: The Trollenberg Terror (aka The Crawling Eye) 1958

We watch a lot of films here ... some of them come in for review, others are just for pleasure ... and with this one, I found it lurking on a new-ish TV Channel called Talking Pictures ... and I had to see it.

The last time I saw it was a long time ago - so long in fact that I couldn't really remember any of the details ... but gosh it's a good film. It's actually quite a surprise that this has never been remade ... one wonders what modern effects could manage which might surpass what is presented here.

Made in black and white in 1958, it stars Forrest Tucker as a UN Troubleshooter-type who is heading to Trollenberg to check up on a scientific viewing station there, led by Warren Mitchell with a great Germanic accent!  On the train are a couple of sisters, one of whom is psychic and who collapses, insisting that they get off at the stop.

They're all soon embroiled in a mystery on the mountain, where a strange mist or fog seems to move about of its own volition. It's radioactive too, and people who find themselves caught in the mists are then found with their heads torn off.

The film, from a screenplay by Jimmy Sangster (who has more superb credits to his name than I have had hot dinners: just check out his credits on Wiki here), mixes together a lot of things which seem familiar. It's a little like a classic Doctor Who adventure in a way, and even has a gruesome prologue where a hapless climber is killed. The moving fog, and whole 'something in the fog' trope has been used of course in films like The Fog, The Mist and Silent Hill ... and the idea of radioactive aliens being behind it all is just classic 50's sci fi.

But boy are these aliens good. The film was called The Crawling Eye in America and for good reason, as that's just what these creatures look like. They are amazing. Their bodies are lit from within, and they have waving, seeking tentacles. A single eye is mounted on the front, and it moves about, seeking the victims out. It looks like a real human eye, and I suspect that the creatures were built around a human head, incorporating the eye into their design. They are amazing, original and very creepy.  They also make a sort of screeching and wailing sound as they approach which is also quite terrifying.  I wonder if anyone has any behind the scenes pictures of them?

The first time we see one of them is when a small child is cornered by one in the hotel. This is a very daft scene in many ways as previously no children were seen or even mentioned ... and suddenly there is one in danger! But the whole thing is so well done, that you can forgive a lapse like this and just go with the flow!

Overall it's quite a superb piece of filmmaking, with some brilliant effects to cap it all. Well worth a watch.

There's a trailer for the film here:

And the full film seems to be here:

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