The Trollenberg Terror

The Trollenberg Terror (a.k.a. The Crawling Eye in the United States) is a 1958 independently made British black-and-white science fiction monster film drama, produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, directed by Quentin Lawrence, that stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, and Janet Munro. The special effects were handled by Les Bowie.[2] The story was based on a 1956 British ITV "Saturday Serial" television programme[3] written by George F. Kerr, Jack Cross and Giles Cooper, under the collective pseudonym of "Peter Key." The film was distributed in the U.K. by Eros Films Ltd. in October, 1958[4] as The Trollenberg Terror, and in the U.S. by Distributors Corporation of America as The Crawling Eye. It was released in the U.S. on July 7, 1958[5] as a double feature with the British science fiction film The Strange World of Planet X (a.k.a. Cosmic Monsters in the United States).

The Trollenberg Terror
Crawling Eye film poster.jpg
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed byQuentin Lawrence
Produced byRobert S. Baker
Monty Berman
Written byJimmy Sangster
Story byPeter Key
Based on1956 TV series
StarringForrest Tucker
Laurence Payne
Jennifer Jayne
Music byStanley Black
CinematographyMonty Berman
Edited byHenry Richardson
Production
company
Distributed byEros Films Ltd. (U.K.)
Distributors Corporation of America (U.S.)
Release date
7 October 1958 (U.K.)
July 7, 1958 (U.S.)[1]
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Trollenberg Terror's storyline concerns United Nations troubleshooter Alan Brooks, later joined by journalist Philip Truscott, investigating unusual accidents occurring in the area of a resort hotel on (the fictional) Mount Trollenberg in Switzerland. Brooks suspects these deaths are related to a series of similar incidents that occurred three years earlier in the Andes Mountains, which involved an unexplained radioactive mist and an odd cloud formation believed by locals to be inhabited.

PlotEdit

On the Swiss mountain Trollenberg, one of three student climbers is suddenly killed, his head ripped from his body. Two sisters, Anne (Munro) and Sarah Pilgrim (Jayne), a London mind-reading act, are travelling by train to Geneva when Anne faints as the train passes the mountain. Upon waking, Anne insists that they must get off at the next stop.

UN troubleshooter Alan Brooks (Tucker), in the same train compartment as the sisters, goes to Trollenberg's observatory, where Professor Crevett (Warren Mitchell) explains that, despite many climbing accidents, no bodies are ever found; an always-stationary radioactive cloud is regularly observed on the mountain's south face. Brooks learns that similar incidents took place in the Andes three years earlier, before a similar radioactive cloud vanished without a trace. Local rumours circulated that something was living in the mist.

Anne is giving a mind-reading demonstration at the hotel when she "sees" two men in a base camp hut on the mountain: Dewhurst (Stuart Saunders) is asleep when the other man, Brett (Andrew Faulds), under some kind of mental compulsion, walks outside. Meanwhile, the cloud has enveloped the hut. Anne suddenly faints again, and Brooks phones the hut but no one answers.

A rescue party ventures to the hut looking for both men. Anne, in a trance-like state, urges the rescuers to stay away. Inside the hut, the group discover that everything is frozen solid, despite the hut being locked from the inside. Dewhurst's body is found under the bed, its head missing. A spotter plane arrives and circles overhead, and a man is seen off in the distance. At his location, the first rescuer there finds a rucksack with a severed head inside. He is suddenly set upon and killed by Brett, who quickly dispatches the second rescuer.

At the hotel, Brett wanders in, claiming he has was lost. Thereafter, he launches a knife attack on Anne, but the men manage to subdue him. During the struggle, Brett sustains a severe head gash, but no blood flows from the wound. Brett is heavily sedated and locked away. Brooks recalls a similar incident in the Andes that followed a similar pattern: a man murdered an elderly woman who allegedly possessed psychic abilities just like those displayed by Anne. The killer's body was discovered to have been dead for at least 24 hours prior to his murder of the old women. Brett escapes his improvised cell and resumes his hunt for Anne, this time armed with a hand axe. Before he can reach her, Brooks quickly dispatches Brett with a pistol.

The cloud has begun to move down the mountainside towards the hotel, so the group retreats to the heavily fortified observatory. As they enter the cable car, a mother realises that her young daughter is missing. In a thickening mist a giant, multi-tentacled creature with a single huge eye appears at the hotel, smashing down the front door. Brooks manages to rescue the child from the lobby, both of them narrowly escaping its tentacles. They return to the cable car, but the delay has given the thickening mist a chance to reach the car platform. The transport motor begins to freeze, starting and stopping, the cable slipping, but the cable car arrives safely. The sole cloud has now split and become five while converging on the observatory.

Hans (Colin Douglas), who left the hotel, suddenly turns up at the observatory. Once inside, he begins exhibiting the same obsession with Anne. Hans tries to strangle her, but Brooks stops him by stabbing him. As the large tentacled monsters near the observatory, everyone makes Molotov cocktails to combat them. By radio, Alan orders an aerial firebombing raid against the observatory, which has a reinforced concrete roof and walls that can withstand the assault.

Journalist Philip Truscott (Payne) strikes one of the huge one-eyed creatures with a Molotov cocktail, setting it ablaze. He is caught by a tentacle from another monster now atop the observatory's roof. With another Molotov cocktail, Brooks sets that one ablaze, forcing it to drop Truscott. Later, Truscott does the same to another creature that has managed to breech a thick wall in order to get at Anne. The aerial firebombing assault begins and is successful at torching all the remaining monsters.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

The Trollenberg Terror was the final film produced by Southall Studios, one of the earliest pioneer film studios in the U.K., and was one of the last films released by Distributors Corporation of America.[citation needed]

Mitchell's role was originally meant to be played by Anton Diffring, but Diffring pulled out of the part at the last minute.[6]

ReceptionEdit

In the January 1, 1959 issue of The New York Times, film critic Richard W. Nason reviewed the double feature starring Forrest Tucker and opined that "..."The Crawling Eye" and "The Cosmic Monster" do nothing to enhance or advance the copious genre of science fiction".[7]

Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin considered The Trollenberg Terror as "ok, if predictable", a feature that showed its humble origins, being adapted by Jimmy Sangster from the British TV series (also called "The Trollenberg Terror") about cloud-hiding alien invaders on a Swiss mountaintop. Maltin noted that the film was "hampered by low-grade special effects".[8]

The Trollenberg Terror was (partly) the inspiration for writer/director John Carpenter's 1980 horror film The Fog.[9]

In popular cultureEdit

The main title music from The Crawling Eye was featured on the album Greatest Science Fiction Hits V by Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra, released in 1979 on GNP Crescendo Records.[10][11]

The film is mentioned in Stephen King's 1986 horror novel It as having been watched by one of the book's protagonists; a crawling eye creature later appears as a manifestation of It, the novel's title monster.[12]

Under the title The Crawling Eye, the film was the first of many productions to be mocked on the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, after the series moved from KTMA to Comedy Central; the episode aired on 11 November 1989. The Crawling Eye was also briefly mentioned at the end of the season 10 finale covering Danger: Diabolik.[13]

The Freakazoid episode "The Cloud", airing 16 December 1995, spoofed the opening credits of the film, as well as key elements of the plot (though with the victims being turned into clowns instead of being killed).[14][15]

A song called "Crawling Eye" was featured on American horror punk band the Misfits' 1999 album Famous Monsters; the song's lyrics directly referenced the plot of the film.[16]

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Warren, Bill (1986). Keep Watching The Skies Volume 2. McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 737
  2. ^ Warren, Bill (1986). Keep Watching The Skies Volume 2. McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 737
  3. ^ "'The Trollenberg Terror'." IMDb Retrieved: 20 January 2015.
  4. ^ Warren, Bill (1986). Keep Watching The Skies Volume 2. McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 737
  5. ^ Warren, Bill (1986). Keep Watching The Skies Volume 2. McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 737
  6. ^ Hamilton 2013, pp. 48–51.
  7. ^ Nason, Richard W. (1 January 1959). "Screen: Science-Fiction Bill at Local Theatres". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard. "Leonard Maltin Movie review." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  9. ^ Coming Soon. The Beginning of the End: John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned (2015)
  10. ^ Norman, Neil. "Greatest Science Fiction Hits IV Soundtrack Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra." Amazon. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  11. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Neil-Norman-And-His-Cosmic-Orchestra-Greatest-Science-Fiction-Hits/release/2127287
  12. ^ King 1986, p. 12.
  13. ^ Thomas, Kaitlin. "Previously Unavailable Episodes of _Mystery Science Theater 3000_ Will Soon Be Streamable on Vimeo." TV Guide, 17 September 2014. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  14. ^ Lenburg 1999, pp. 637–638.
  15. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0582654/
  16. ^ Blush 2001, pp. 201–202.

BibliographyEdit

  • Blush, Steven. American Hardcore: A Tribal History. New York: Feral House, 2001. ISBN 0-922915-71-7.
  • Hamilton, John. The British Independent Horror Film 1951–70. Hailsham, U.K.: Hemlock Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-903254-33-2.
  • King, Stephen. It. New York: Viking, 1986. ISBN 0-670-81302-8.
  • Lenburg, Jeff. "Steven Spielberg Presents Freakazoid!". The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (third edition). New York, New York: Checkmark Books, 1999. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7.
  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then as Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide), first edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.
  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties: 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009 (first edition: Volume 1 (1982), Volume 2 (1986)). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External linksEdit