Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Trollenberg Terror (1958)

Dir: Quentin Lawrence
Image DVD

Even though the cover for this one calls it The Crawling Eye, the opening credits identify it as the longer Trollenberg Terror cut. The screenplay (written by Hammer Films prolific Jimmy Sangster) packs a lot of characters and multiple sci-fi elements nicely into it's 84 minute run time. It's about Ann & Sarah Pilgrim, two sisters that do a psychic stage show who are traveling to Zurich on holiday. On the train they meet Forrest Tucker (a U.N. scientist) and when they get to his stop at Trollenberg, the telepathic sister Ann (soon to be Disney star Janet Munro) gets some sort of psychic flash that draws her off the train. Tucker helps them to secure lodging and it's soon discovered that some decapitated bodies had been found. A local scientist tells them about a radioactive cloud that's been hovering around the mountain. Whatever lives in the cloud is calling to Ann as we find out that people with her abilities cause a threat to the monster. Not much info is force fed to us, just theories that may or may not be true, an intelligent choice. When the Eye is revealed toward the end of the film it's genuinely scary even though prolonged exposure gives the low budget away. The movie was an early episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" but don't let that make you think that it's only a camp fest as the film is never played for laughs.
It's certainly a must for sci-fi and horror fans from the "Silver Age" with quite a pedigree. A year before this was released, Forrest Tucker had just appeared in a very similar film for Hammer, The Abominable Snowman, and Jennifer Jayne, who plays sister Sarah, went on to write the screenplays for Tales That Witness Madness and Son of Dracula under the name Jay Fairbank.
The print is perfectly acceptable and presented anamorphically. There are no special features worth mentioning but there is a German DVD out with audio commentary by John Carpenter who sites the film as an inspiration for The Fog.


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