258. The Trollenberg Terror (aka the Crawling Eye) (GB 1958)

Director: Quentin Lawrence

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Janet Munro, Warren Mitchell. Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne

Music: Stanley Black

Cinematography: Monty Berman

Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster

Story: Peter Key

Fact:: Yes, Forrest Tucker's real name WAS Torrest Fucker.

 In one line: disgusting aliens are found at the top of a Swiss mountain.

 

A group of mountaineers are attacked in the mists at the top of a Swiss mountain. One of them is decapitated. United Nations troubleshooter Alan Brooks (Tucker) investigates. A race of tentacled aliens are living and thriving in a radioactive cloud and are now moving south towards the village of Trollenberg for more victims. Brooks, Professor Crevett (Mitchell) and the beautiful psychic Ann Pilgrim join forces to defeat the alien invasion.

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A very silly film. The Trollenberg Terror started off as a weekly serial on the fledgeling ITV and was slightly beefed up by Hammer-lite film company Eros.

The settings are poor and very studio bound; there are numerous continuity errors; the actors' accents are all over the place and the monsters and model work are shit.

And yet.....

There's a certain nightmare quality about the film that has fired the imaginations of a number of horror 'luminaries' including John Carpenter (who said it inspired The Fog), Stephen King (who namechecks it and uses it as a nightmare apparition in his novel It) and every Halloween edition of The Simpsons features Kang and Kane, whose resemblance to the Crawling Eyes is more than a mere coincidence.

You'd think that eyes would be rubbish as monsters, but these alien bastards move mysteriously through the mists (one of the film's alternative titles is The Flying Eyes, although this was obviously the work of a foreign distributor who'd wisely not seen the film), killing their victims with their giant tentacles (no, too obvious) and using their psychic powers to turn ordinary men into violent zombies to do their bidding.

"Leave him alone, love!" Another rough night at The Lisbon, Victoria Street, Liverpool city centre.

The TT is from the 'top of your head/fuck-all research' school of writing. The science is beyond ludicrous and its main scientist Professor Crevett is played with such a lack of authenticity that Warren Mitchell must surely be as ashamed of his creation as he should be of Alf Garnett.

Janet Munro is ace, of course, and it must be pointed out that she 'got' 'them' 'out' in the far classier sci-fi/environmental flick The Day the Earth Caught Fire (coming soon - ooh-er!), only to have her brave and frankly noble scenes excised from the final cut by a terrified BBFC in 1961.

The decapitations in the film are a tiny bit shocking for 1958....

Quick! Get on Ebay! An original Head Bag!

...and there's a nice sense of dread about some of the desolate 'Alpine' scenes when the frozen mist starts to descend.

The best scene involves Torrest Fucker having to save a little girl who has been left behind in a remote chalet. The crawling eyes are descending about as fast as eyes can and only Fucker's stoic American fortitude can save the day.

It's the appearance of the 'eyes' that lets the film down and dissipates any tension so far established. The 'eyes' are almost literally bollocks; mind you, if my bollocks looked like this, I'd probably visit my local Genito-Urinary Medicine clinic:

"Doctor - it's me balls."

Some of the poorer actors become zombiefied, and that doesn't help matters (along with Forrest's, er, wooden acting, Mitchell's bad acting, and monsters that look like testes). There are also some very nasty haircuts to contend with:

Andrew Faulds: eight years later he became Labour MP for Smethwick. Here he played 'Man Having a Shit' (With bad haircut).

All in all, a pretty rubbish film, but enough to scare the 'Bejesus' (whatever that means) out of me when I was 'only young'.*

5/10 

(For J.Munro and some scary bits.)

*34