The Trollenberg Terror

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The Trollenberg Terror
Crawling Eye film poster.jpg
Directed by Quentin Lawrence
Produced by Robert S. Baker
Monty Berman
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Story by Peter Key
Based on 1956 TV series
Starring Forrest Tucker
Laurence Payne
Jennifer Jayne
Music by Stanley Black
Cinematography Monty Berman
Edited by Henry Richardson
Production
company
Distributed by Eros Films Ltd. (UK)
Distributors Corporation of America (US)
Release dates
  • 7 October 1958 (1958-10-07) (UK)
Running time
84 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Trollenberg Terror (aka The Crawling Eye, Creature from Another World, The Creeping Eye and The Flying Eye) is both a 1956 "Saturday Serial" ITV UK television programme[1] and a 1958 independently made black-and-white British science fiction film. Both versions were directed by Quentin Lawrence. The film version was produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman and stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne and Janet Munro. The film was distributed in the UK by Eros Films Ltd. and in the US by Distributors Corporation of America.

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 odd cloud formation believed by locals to be inhabited.

Plot[edit]

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), who was in the same compartment onboard the train as the sisters, goes to an observatory on the Trollenberg, where Professor Crevett (Warren Mitchell) has asked for his help. The professor explains that, despite many climbing accidents, no bodies are ever found, and 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. Rumors circulated among the locals that something was living amid the cloud, shrouded by the mist.

That evening, 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), seemingly under some kind of mental compulsion, walks outside. The cloud, meanwhile, has moved down to envelop the hut. Before she can discern any further events, Anne suddenly faints again. Brooks then phones the hut, but no one answers.

A hastily convened rescue party ventures out 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 inside 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 they notice a man off in the distance. Upon being directed to his location, the first rescuer finds a rucksack with a severed head inside. He is quickly set upon and killed by Brett, who also attacks and kills a second rescuer when he arrives.

Making his way to the hotel, Brett storms in and launches a focused attack on Anne. Despite his unnatural strength, the men manage to subdue him. During the struggle, Brett sustains a severe gash to his head, and everyone present is shocked when no blood flows from the wound. Brett is heavily sedated and locked away. While discussing this disturbing turn of events, Brooks recalls that the incident in the Andes three years previously followed a similar pattern: a man murdered an elderly woman who allegedly possessed psychic abilities akin to those displayed by Anne. Upon later examination, the killer's body was discovered to have been deceased for at least 24 hours prior to his murder of the old women. As the group struggle to understand the nature of the phenomena confronting them, Brett escapes his improvised cell and resumes his hunt for Anne, this time armed with a small hand axe. Before he can cause any further grief, however, he is quickly shot and killed by Brooks.

News arrives that the cloud has begun to move down the mountainside, towards the hotel, so the group decide to retreat to the relative safety of the heavily fortified observatory. As the guests begin loading 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 missing child from the lobby, with both of them narrowly escaping the cycloptic horror's grasp. They make it back 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 single cloud has now split and become four while converging on the observatory.

Hans (Colin Douglas), who tried to leave the hotel by car, suddenly turns up at the observatory. Once inside, he begins exhibiting the same obsession with finding Anne. Hans tries to strangle her, but the group can only stop him by killing him. As the tentacled monsters near the observatory, everyone makes Molotov cocktails to combat them. In the meantime, 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 creatures with a Molotov cocktail, setting it ablaze. He is caught from above by one of the tentacled monsters on the observatory's roof. With another Molotov cocktail, Brooks sets that one ablaze, forcing the burning creature to release Truscott. Later, Truscott does the same as another one-eyed monster manages to breach a thick wall, trying to get at Anne. The aerial firebombing assault begins and is successful at torching the remaining creatures.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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

Actor Warren Mitchell's role was originally meant to be played by Anton Diffring, but Diffring pulled out of the part at the last minute.[2]

Reception[edit]

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 "The Trollenberg Terror" about cloud-hiding alien invaders on a Swiss mountaintop. Maltin noted that the film was "hampered by low-grade special effects".[3]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[4][5]

The film was mentioned in Stephen King's 1986 horror novel It as having been watched by one of its protagonists, and The Crawling Eye itself later appears as a manifestation of the novel's title monster.[6]

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 final episode of the show.[7]

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 victims being turned into clowns instead of being killed).[8][9]

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.[10]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "'The Trollenberg Terror'." IMDb. Retrieved: 20 January 2015.
  2. ^ Hamilton 2013, pp. 48–51.
  3. ^ Maltin, Leonard. "Leonard Maltin Movie review." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  4. ^ Norman, Neil. "Greatest Science Fiction Hits IV Soundtrack Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra." Amazon. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  5. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Neil-Norman-And-His-Cosmic-Orchestra-Greatest-Science-Fiction-Hits/release/2127287
  6. ^ King 1986, p. 12.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Lenburg 1999, pp. 637–638.
  9. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0582654/
  10. ^ Blush 2001, pp. 201–202.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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, UK: 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 ed.). 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 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: 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External links[edit]

Mystery Science Theater 3000