Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

THE CRAWLING EYE/THE TROLLENBERG TERROR

Peekaboo!













THE CRAWLING EYE (aka The Trollenberg Terror/1958). Director: Quentin Lawrence. Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster.

In 1956 British TV presented a six-part sci-fi thriller entitled The Trollenberg Terror, directed by Quentin Lawrence but with a different cast [apparently this TV production is lost]. Two years later a feature-length film of the same title was released, renamed the juicier Crawling Eye for American distribution. Two young ladies who do a mind-reading act, Sarah (Jennifer Jayne) and Anne (Janet Munro) Pilgrim, are heading for Geneva by train, but get off at the small village of Trollenberg due to Anne's compulsion to do so. Another passenger named Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker) also disembarks and they all go to the hotel, where they learn that there have been a series of terrible mountain-climbing tragedies. High on the Trollenberg mountain there is an observatory that is researching cosmic rays, and has observed a radioactive cloud that moves about as if it were being directed ...  Alan remembers similar incidents in the Andes, and that certain people with psychic abilities, like Anne, could be manipulated by whatever beings there are in the cloud. Speaking of which, said cloud starts moving down towards the hotel, blocking off escape, and the creatures inside reveal themselves ... The Crawling Eye is a suspenseful, creepy movie with some interesting notions (such as corpses being reanimated and going after victims with cleavers), headless bodies, and surprisingly convincing monsters that figure in the climax. The actors are all good, with Laurence Payne particularly effective as the reporter Prescott, and Tucker managing to summon up some energy in his portrayal of the hero; Jayne and especially Munro are also convincing, although Warren Mitchell is perhaps a little too weird as Professor Crevett. The movie has its share of illogical and silly moments, but it's still a superior "creature feature."

Verdict: If it blinks, watch out! ***.

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