Wednesday, April 28, 2010

“Didn't you see? His head... it was torn off!”

I’m going to try out the occasional dose of awfulness, schlock and bad cinematic decisions. I’d like to keep these things shorter than usual though, so without further hullabaloo, here’s 1958’s The Trollenberg Terror AKA The Crawling Eye.

Some scientist guy is traveling to a resort town in Switzerland at the foot of the Trollenberg mountain. He meets two women on the train ride there, including one who is apparently psychic and senses something very wrong about the place. Turns out climbers have been dying and their bodies being found without heads. Guess what? A radioactive cloud of unknown origin is the cause of this. Somehow. I’m not sure. Aliens or something. Eventually, there are giant eye-like monsters crawling around that get killed with fire.

Alan Brooks: Forrest Tucker (AKA that guy from F Troop) plays some scientist guy with vague ties to the government and United Nations. He’s on vacation, yet somehow ends up at this location that features a strange stationary cloud clinging to a mountain that is suspiciously similar to one he encountered in South America some years before. Hmmmm… He’s technically our hero, but doesn’t really do a whole lot.

Sarah Pilgrim: Jennifer Jayne plays the elder Pilgrim sister, who happens to be the not psychic one. She’s supportive of her sis, rather hot and that’s about it, really.

Anne Pilgrim: Janet Munro (who was also in Darby O’Gill And The Little People) plays the hot psychic girl. She’s actually rather interesting here as the only one who gets a vibe that SOMETHING HORRIBLE IS GOING ON. Sure, she tends to fall into a swoon after her visions, but let’s face it, for having psychic powers that the filmmakers don’t even TRY to explain, she’s the cute little badass of the film.

Philip Truscott: Laurence Payne is a reporter at the resort when all this stuff happens. By the end, he and Anne become an item because… Well, I guess because that’s just how these things go.

Professor Crevet: Warren Mitchell is the heavily accented scientist working at an observatory on the mountain. He’s very much aware of the cloud and…that’s about it.

Brett: Andrew Faulds is a mountaineer and guide who falls victim to the cloud. After murdering a geologist and some guys sent up to look for him, he comes back to the resort, visibly messed up, then tries to kill Anne when he sees her, then falls over, doesn’t bleed when cut, tries again to kill her later and is shot. When the others examine the body, it dissolves, leaving a skeleton. I’m not making this up.

Directed by Quentin Lawrence (who apparently held a degree in physics) the movie is fairly standard fare in most scenes, with a couple good moments here and there. The beginning, with one climber killed (off camera) and his two buddies powerless to help him is actually rather good at setting the mood. Sadly the movie really drags after a while, but then we get CRAWLING EYES!! Which are laughably horrible. Their bodies are giant orbs but the actual “eye” itself is about the size of a baseball. No real idea why they have tentacles but whatever. The special effects guys get a B for effort but an F for failure. One thing though, the climax is definitely memorable.

Story by Peter Key and script by Jimmy Sangster. The writing really falls into the standard B movie pitfall of not a whole lot of stuff making sense. Why is Anne psychic? What do the creatures want? I mean, sure, there are some decent ideas in there, but the writing is just clunky schlock.

The score by Stanley Black is fine. Nothing really amazing or anything, but its not BAD or anything.

Whether you call it The Trollenberg Terror or The Crawling Eye, this is not a good movie. While there are decent elements, the actors aren’t trying to hard with the pretty lame material they’ve been given and the effects by the end are pretty damn awful. Still, you can’t look at those stupid eyeball monsters with hate in your heart…

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