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The Crawling Eye, 1958

From the DVD case: A science fiction terror thriller about a weird creature from outer space that survives in the rarefied atmosphere of the Swiss Alps and terrorizes scientists in a remote high altitude research station. This hideous monster hides in the fog-shrouded cloud of mist and kills its victims by decapitation.

As the mysterious cloud descends on the Swiss village of Trollenberg, United Nations science investigator Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker), Professor Crevett (Warren Mitchell) and a young woman with psychic powers (Janet Munro) must find a way to stop the monster’s murderous rampage before it’s too late. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: How can you not love a movie called The Crawling Eye?

This film has a lot going for it: space aliens, decapitations, psychics, a pretty lead actress, a screenplay by Hammer Horror writer Jimmy Sangster, and even a zombie or two. Of course, it’s strongest asset is Forrest Tucker (The Abominable Snowman, The Cosmic Monster) in the role of Alan Brooks. Tucker plays his part solemnly, even while the most ridiculous events are going on around him. His somber portrayal gives at least some legitimacy to the plot.

Jennifer Jayne (Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors) and Janet Munro (The Day the Earth Caught Fire) play Sarah and Anne Pilgrim, respectively. They’re a traveling mind reading act that happen onto the scene. Apparently, Anne’s telepathic abilities are a threat to the aliens and she is in constant danger from zombie killers sent by the radioactive cloud.

For a low budget movie, the acting is surprisingly strong. There are a few cheeseballs thrown into the mix, Colin Douglas (Night Creatures) as Hans the bartender, for example, and Andrew Faulds (The Flesh and the Fiends) as the zombified Brett may cause a few giggles. However, the biggest encumbrance is Warren Mitchell’s (Night Caller from Outer Space, The Curse of the Werewolf) portrayal of Professor Crevett.

Mitchell’s depiction of Prof. Crevett is so cheesy that it taints the entire movie. Luckily, Forrest Tucker’s strong but subtle acting sort of evens everything out. Still, you can’t help but note the contrast between the two actors.

I sometimes wonder what this film would have been like if someone like Peter Cushing played the part of Prof. Crevett. Of course, Peter Cushing can’t be in every film. Plus, Warren Mitchell’s portrayal adds an amusing element, which is something I’m not all together against in a B picture.

One admirable aspect of The Crawling Eye is that we don’t get a glimpse of the creatures (there are more than one, despite what the title suggests) until deep into the second act.

I, for one, find the initial encounter with the creatures to be quite gruesome. Especially that first close-up where the eyeball is darting back and forth as it attempts to apprehend the little girl. Perhaps it is nothing by today’s standards, but I found the beast appropriately repulsive. Unfortunately, when we see the uglies gathered atop the research station, they lose a lot of their monster mojo.

I truly enjoy The Crawling Eye. It satisfies a lot of what I look for in a B movie, including more than a hint of camp value. To sell this picture more, my wife says this movie is one she “doesn’t mind so much,” though she does note it has an absolutely ridiculous title.

I think we can all agree on that.

The Crawling Eye is directed by Quentin Lawrence.

Scene to watch for: Dewhurst loses his head in a tight situation.

Line to listen for: “We’ve just been fighting a dead man?”

This movie is also known as: The Trollenberg Terror, Creature from Another World, The Creeping Eye, and The Flying Eye.

Notes of interest: John Carpenter states this film was the inspiration for his 1980 film, The Fog. Also, though I don’t know this for fact, it strikes me that the aliens Kang and Kodos, from the tv series The Simpsons, bear a striking resemblance to the creatures in this movie.

Bonus: Another review of The Crawling Eye with images from the film.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

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4 Comments

  1. This is a stunning work of artistic genius and one of the finest “Englische neo-Realismus” films of the Fifties. Director Quentin Lawrance plumbs the depths of eldritch horror with his groundbreaking, never-bettered use of stock footage and back projection. Star-for-hire Forrest (sic) Tucker excels in his portrayal of Mensch on the brink of interplanetary miscegenation. Your mother won’t like this, dear.

  2. Edna: I couldn’t agree more.

  3. The scene when the door opens and there is just that eye behind it? Gorgeous!
    And the miniature effects are awesome too. Great review!

  4. Thanks, Lance. This is definitely a favorite of mine. Great fun all the way around


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