The Crawling Eye

Year 1958

Forrest Tucker as  Alan Brooks
Janet Munro as Anne Pilgrim
Jennifer Jayne as Sarah Pilgrim
Warren Mitchell   as Professor Crevett
Director - Quentin Lawrence  
Screenwriter - Jimmy Sangster

This one, believe it or not, is borderline "Special Interest" or "Not too Shabby". That's not because there's something special about it or it's remotely a fine movie. It's because this one is a heck of a lot better than some of the others in this category, provided the time frame for its release is taken into account.

I've heard that Mystery Science Theater 3000 did a riff on this one. That can sometimes be a back-handed compliment. The trick to having a successful MST roast was that the movie being lambasted had to be at least partially watchable. Oh, there are the train wreck varieties of movies, but even with the banter they can get old after more than a few minutes.

The Crawling Eye has an old plot along with the associated holes of an evidently low "special effects" budget, but I got the feeling that every actor wanted the film to be on their resume. No one spoke in a monotone or got filmed having a case of the giggles, so you've got to give this mess some credit.

The plot? Space aliens land and start killing people. Because this wasn't a U.S. film, the U.N. has to save the day. Film ends. Yay! When I was a child, as far back as last week or so, the arrival of the military was an important plot advancer in every topical science fiction movie ever made. To a six year old, nothing kicked alien butt like bombs and tanks.

This black and white film was originally released as The Trollenberg Terror. Trollenberg, based on the paintings used as background scenery, is a tall, thin projection of mountain like the Eiger. People come from all around to climb it. It's the pride of rural Germany.

Until people start dying. Some corpses show up with their heads missing. (Digression there's no such thing as a torso with a head. By definition, a torso is sans head. Therefore the expression "headless torso" is redundant. Kind of like "fatally killed".)

Back to the mindless, uh, headless ones. No reason is ever given for this except that it gives actors the opportunity to cover their faces with their hands. Forrest Tucker makes great use of this hand shielding acting technique. Does the creeping, uh, crawling eye eat the heads and toss the rest? (Probably. Do you know why? I don't since brains are for zombies, not crawling eyes, you big silly!) But sometimes, the eye merely possesses a dead person. Saving that person for later, perhaps?

And then there's the psychic. One of the Pilgrim sisters, I don't know which, has unsuspected psychic powers that she's honing to a fine edge for stage shows. (I'm not making this up. It's in the script.) For some reason, the eye wants her...dead. Her family...dead. Her friends and protectors...dead. Why? Who knows, Bluto? Apparently psychics are a threat to a crawling eye, much like physics are a threat to constipation.

And don't forget that a psychic was targetted by the eye in the Andes some months ago. At least one was according to a spoken flashback.

Why does the eye stay in the mountain? It likes the high altitude and thin air. The air's so thin that people can breathe without masks. Well, maybe they pant a bit, but it's not like they're sucking wind.

Oh, and there are four of them, not just one. The title should have been "The Crawling Eyes". But, in an enlightened marketing ploy, the decision was made to keep the actual number of eyes a deep secret. What a surprise I had, I'll tell you, when I found out that there were more than just a single crawling eye!

Why are they here? Through his own bit of psychic ability, a scientist explains that they're immigrants from a dead or dying world. You've got to have a scientists explain this to add credibility to the theory. Otherwise, the other possibilities, like, for instance, they're some sort of evolved fog formation, would cloud the issue. (Get it? Fog? Cloud? Nevermind.)

What do they want? Apparently, their only need is to kill people and have a burning hatred of psychics.

What do they look like? Jellyfish? Sort of. Creeping vines? Sort of. Cyclopean turtles? Mostly. Yep, they look like giant, one-eyed, box turtles if the turtles had vines instead of legs. I'm not giving anything away here, in another marketing gaffe, the monster is shown in the trailer.

But it's not like there's an eye, or four, crawling around and getting gook on the carpet. No, it's more like there are four Thanksgiving balloons floating around ripping the heads off of people.

The eye part of the beast is well done though. It doesn't look glassy and hollow. Well, at least not glassy.

The accents of the different characters are amusing. Since the movie takes place in Germany, you'd think that there might be some people speaking with a German accent. For example, you might think that the innkeeper when he tries to speak English might have a hint of an accent, right? We'll he does, but he it's an Irish accent!

In the end, four creatures attack the planet Earth. Earth doesn't notice too much and in short order, the invaders are dispatched. The strategy was doomed from the start and didn't even make the front cover of the Trollenberg Times.

Chick flick potential? If she's six and you're babysitting, she might watch. There's no cursing or blasphemy and only one grisly scene. Lots of miniatures complete with oversized flames to simulate burning. Where's Agarn?

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