Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Trollenberg Terror!


The Crawling Eye, which is the name under which I first encountered this above-average sci-fi monster flick has some merit, despite its infamy as one of the victims of  Mystery Science Theater 3000. First and foremost it has Forrest Tucker, a tough as nails leading man with a booming voice and commanding presence who doesn't allow any movie to disappear him. That said, Tucker has his hands full in the finale of this memorable mountaineering spectacle.

Originally titled The Trollenberg Terror (much more intriguing title I think), this tale began as a British television serial, much like the very evocative Quatermass yarns. That said, the Brits have a neat trick of infusing what is actually a supernatural story with a smidge of science fiction and the blend samples very nicely. That works here also, to a degree.


Mild spoilers beginneth. 

The story begins at the top of the Trollenberg, a mountain in somewhere-Switzerland in which we find three climbers dealing with the tragic death of one of their number which not loses him his life but also his head. Cut to the train and our hero Alan Brooks (Tucker) and two beautiful sisters Sarah and Anne Pilgrim, played by Jennifer Jane and Janet Munro respectively. The latter is a telepath and it comes clear quickly she's connected to whatever is the matter at the top of the Trollenberg.  They stop in the village at the bottom and soon we find ourselves at an observatory tucked partway up the mountain which is tracking cosmic rays and a mysterious unmoving cloud on the Trollenberg slope. Quickly we meet Professor Crevett who knows Brooks from another mystery mountain, that one in the Andes. They are coy about what happened but eventually we learn they were dealing with possible alien invaders. They suspect the same here, but before they can investigate more hideous murders begin and frosty reanmimated murderers lurk around many a corner. Eventually we get a glimpse of the aliens, but they're pretty unimpressive, giant bulbous heads with single eyes and singularly puny tentacles. There's some thrashing about but eventually mankind once again staves off the threat...for now.

Spoilers endeth.



What have here is a pretty handy mystery with some proper dastardly and vicious murderers and some top-notch suspense before the final ten minutes gives us something else again. Tucker does the best he can with the part he's given which descends into some real stupidity by the finale, though he does okay before then.

Whatever the Brits bring to sci-fi is present here, a style which I really react to, but truth told the revelation of the neatly anticipated threat is somewhat of a letdown. But getting there was a whole lot of fun.

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4 comments:

  1. There's just something about giant eyeballs with tentacles from other dimensions that just put some folks on edge.
    I blame Shuma-Gorath.

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    1. I'd never thought of that connection. Now that you mention it, the movie does have a vaguely Lovecraftian quality to it.

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  2. Yeah, Rip, he was originally a creation of Lovecraft (I think, I'm often mistaken) but I was actually referring to the Marvel Comics version, who preyed on pre-humans until Crom buried him under a mountain.
    He went on to become a major foe of Doc Strange and basically scare the hell out everybody. You could tell he was a major demon in the comics, because he spoke in bold type with no punctuation.

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    1. Oh I know of his Doc Strange appearances. He's part of the C'Thulhu mythos though, created by Robert E. Howard I think, though that stuff gets muddied.

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