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Friday, November 30, 2018

The Crawling Eye aka. The Trollenberg Terror (1958)




It is time for another fifties movie review and I’ve decided to drop another of my favorites on you. The Crawling Eye is one movie from the decade that I continually go back to and there are a lot that I love, but this is the best. It is the perfect blend of goofy monster movie with some unusually gruesome deaths mixed in. While starring an American actor, Forrest Tucker, this British production has a totally different vibe from what I expected. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Things kick off on a mountain with some men climbing. One of them is ahead and complains about the cold and a fog rolling in. Then he utters the line, “someone is coming” and screams before falling. The others pull him up only to find he has no head! Okay something is up. Then we move to the train where we are introduced to our main characters Alan Brooks and the Pilgrim sisters. After some backstory and shenanigans involving the youngest of the sisters Anne having a vision and insisting they get off the train at Trollenberg. After checking in at the local hotel they introduce themselves to the locals and soon it gets weird. Things happen where more people are killed on the mountain with some of them still walking around afterwards! Could it be aliens? Yeah, its aliens, but very cool looking ones that love the cold and burn nicely when set on fire.

If you are looking for a movie that has great pacing, then the Crawling Eye is a perfect. We start with the first death on screen to set the table and then immediately see that one of the sisters is having weird visions and telepathic messages. So from there the mystery builds until a dead man comes down off of the mountain to kill her! It is clear that Tucker’s character, Alan, has some knowledge of what is happening. But the movie takes its time telling the whole story. When we finally get it then things shift into high gear and goes full on alien attack. There isn’t a wasted scene or even line in the entire movie. Everything is building and fleshing out the plot for the big showdown. I’ve watched this movie dozens of times and it never fails to entertain.

Cool creature!
The Crawling Eye also has an incredible atmosphere from the very first scene. Between the isolated setting and the constant fog, it is just creepy. This is enhanced by the way that the movie keeps the monsters hidden until towards the end of the movie. We only get to see the characters looks of terror before they are killed. Additionally, the fact that all the heads are missing makes you wonder what the hell is going on and what is out there in the cold. When we do finally get to see the creatures, they are satisfyingly weird looking. Brought to the screen with model work and old school rear projection techniques that always make me smile

I’m recommending this movie with a very big caveat. I didn’t actually watch the Crawling Eye for this review, but the original British version called The Trollenberg Terror. I was shocked when I picked up the budget DVD from Image Entertainment years ago to find that the movie was a beautiful copy of the uncut film. It is much nicer than the US version that I remember watching on the late-night movie shows while I was growing up. I think that people caught on because the DVD I own is going for more than fifty bucks on Amazon right now. There are a lot of budget DVDs with the US print, I’d avoid these if possible.


© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer



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