THE TROLLENBERG TERROR aka THE CRAWLING EYE (1958) Reviews and overview

 

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‘The nightmare terror of the slithering eye that unleashed agonizing horror on a screaming world!’

The Trollenberg Terror is a 1958 British science fiction horror film about a UN expert investigating strange deaths at a Swiss resort. In the USA it was released as The Crawling Eye.

Directed by Quentin Lawrence the screenplay was written by Jimmy Sangster (Fear in the Night; Dracula 1958; Curse of Frankenstein; et al) based upon a 1956 TV series of the same name written by Peter Key. Produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman (The Flesh and the Fiends; Jack the Ripper 1959; Blood of the Vampire).

The Tempean Films production stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro and Warren Mitchell.

The special effects were created by Les Bowie.

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Plot:

One of three student climbers is mysteriously killed on a mountain in Switzerland, his head ripped off. Two sisters are on a train to Geneva. Anne faints as they pass a mountain and on waking, she now knows all about the town and that there is something wrong. She decides they should get off at the next stop, Trollenberg. She was part of a mind-reading act in London.

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Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker), a United Nations special investigator is on the train with them. He is investigating unusual accidents occurring in the area of a resort hotel on the (fictional) Mount Trollenberg in Switzerland. He is joined by journalist Philip Truscott (Laurence Payne).

Brooks goes to an observatory a little way up the mountain, where Professor Crevett (Warren Mitchell) asks for his help. He is told that despite many accidents, dead bodies are never found on the mountain and a radioactive mist cloud is always on its south side.

Brooks suspects the 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…

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Reviews:

… we get a couple of decapitations and a surprising “head in a rucksack” shot that I wasn’t expecting. As well as playing out like a high-altitude reworking of The Thing, withholding the big reveal until the final act adds a layer of Lovecraftian paranoia…” Heropress

” … well-directed with Quentin Lawrence adding a tense psychological dimension that is enough to make it a good film.” Moria

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“For all the silly pseudo-science and cheesy sensationalism, The Trollenberg Terror makes the grade as an engaging, fast-paced thriller. It’s no worse than most fifties creature features and its merits elevate it above much of the genre.” James Oliver, Offbeat: British Cinema’s Curiosities, Obscurities and Forgotten Gems

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

“Efficient low-budget science-fiction thriller spoiled by unimpressive special effects, slack direction and hurried exposition.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982

“This film is badly hampered by an extremely low budget, and sluggish direction by Quentin Lawrence, which doesn’t wring anywhere near as much paranoia and atmosphere from the story as it should. Nonetheless, the story is fun and irresistible to fans of invading alien movies.” This Island Rod

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Cast and characters:

Forrest Tucker … Alan Brooks
Laurence Payne … Philip Truscott
Jennifer Jayne … Sarah Pilgrim
Janet Munro … Anne Pilgrim
Warren Mitchell … Crevett
Frederick Schiller … Klein
Andrew Faulds … Brett
Stuart Saunders … Dewhurst
Colin Douglas … Hans
Derek Sydney … Wilde
Richard Golding … First Villager
George Herbert … Second Villager
Anne Sharp … German Woman
Leslie Heritage … Carl
Jeremy Longhurst … First Student Climber
Anthony Parker … Second Student Climber
Theodore Wilhelm … Fritz
Garard Green … Pilot
Caroline Glaser … Little Girl
Jack Taylor … Jim

Filming locations:

The Trollenberg Terror was the final production filmed at Southall Studios in West London.

Release:

The film was distributed in the UK by Eros Films Ltd. and in the US by Distributors Corporation of America (DCA) as a double feature with Cosmic Monsters (aka The Strange World of Planet X).

Fun facts:

The film was apparently (partly) the inspiration for writer/director John Carpenter’s 1980 horror film The Fog.

The film is mentioned in Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It as having been watched by one of the book’s protagonists (Richie Tozier) and that the movie terrified him; a crawling eye creature later appears as a manifestation of It, the novel’s title monster.

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.

Trailer: