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Crawling Eye

The Crawling Eye

5.0 2
Director: Quentin Lawrence

Cast: Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Janet Munro

After enduring decades of cut-up television showings of The Crawling Eye and a laserdisc version in the 1980s on which the source print was out of focus on one side and the sound was lousy, this DVD makes up for all of it. Transferred off of original British source elements (and, thus, using the original U.K. title The Trollenberg Terror) and masked to


After enduring decades of cut-up television showings of The Crawling Eye and a laserdisc version in the 1980s on which the source print was out of focus on one side and the sound was lousy, this DVD makes up for all of it. Transferred off of original British source elements (and, thus, using the original U.K. title The Trollenberg Terror) and masked to the proper theatrical aspect ratio, the movie looks as sharp as this reviewer has ever seen it, and the contrasts are very rich. All of this may seem superfluous in what seems to most onlookers like a shocker of a film -- the subtleties don't seem important, until you realize that this movie is as much a mystery as it is a horror film, and is very much a character-driven piece. The movie is usually thought of as a poor relation to The Creeping Unknown, which had appeared two years earlier out of England, but The Crawling Eye actually has a good deal more character development, and several layers of clues that spread out across the length of the story. It's a pleasure to watch on several levels, for the acting, the direction, and the rather cleverly told story of an attempted invasion of Earth. After watching this disc, one actually longs to see the original six-part ITV television broadcast on which this movie was based -- one gets a sense that the movie packs a huge amount of information into 85 minutes, but the film adaptation will have to do. Image Entertainment has done a great job of transferring the movie to DVD and packaging it, with 16 chapters and a simple (but clever and creepy) menu that opens automatically on start-up. The annotation is nicely thorough, although not as deep as it might have gotten on the subject of England's mid-'50s science fiction revival, but it has some interesting observations about the movie's American star Forrest Tucker.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
In 1953, the BBC presented a serial (what we would define as a miniseries) called The Quatermass Experiment, authored by Nigel Kneale, a science-fiction thriller with a strong horror and mystery component that took England by storm; it was transformed into a feature film called The Quatermass Xperiment (the spelling emphasizing its British X rating, indicating it was not to be seen by children), produced by Hammer FIlms and directed by Val Guest, with American Brian Donlevy playing Professor Quatermass, which was even more successful. Even more remarkably, retitled The Creeping Unknown for its U.S. release by United Artists, it became a huge hit in the United States. In 1956, the fledgling British ITV television network tried its hand at presenting something along the same lines as part of its Saturday Serials, a six-part science fiction thriller with mystery and horror elements called The Trollenberg Terror, authored by Peter Key and directed by Quentin Lawrence, with Laurence Payne as the hero, Philip Truscott. It was similarly successful for the new rival to the BBC, keeping audiences glued to their sets for six weeks across December of 1956 and January of 1957. The series' production company, Tempean, looking at what Hammer had done with Kneale's Quatermass series, saw the cinematic possibilities and prepared a feature film version, scripted by Jimmy Sangster and with American actor Forrest Tucker in the lead -- at the time, it was believed that casting a recognizable American name in a British picture would boost a movie's box-office potential at home and also help when it came to getting it distributed in America. The resulting film, also directed by Quentin Lawrence and with Laurence Payne cast in the now co-starring role of Philip Truscott, was retitled The Crawling Eye for its American release, its distributors hoping to draw the same audiences that had made The Creeping Unknown a hit in the United States. The film is still remembered, 50 years after it was released, as one of the creepier science fiction thrillers of its time, even if some of the creepiest shock moments in it are sort of illogical. Lawrence, whose approach to the six-part television story was far more deliberate, keeps the action moving here at such a good clip, however, that viewers tend to leap right over the illogical aspects (helped, of course, by the sheer creepiness of severed heads, etc.). Sangster's script balances the horrific and mysterious elements, carrying the viewer back and forth between a search across a mountain that results in three (or is it four?) horrible murders, and the wanderings of the young clairvoyant Ann Pilgrim (Janet Munro) as she is taken over for a time by the thought transmissions from the mountain. And for all of the illogically creepy moments, there are others -- such as Brett's attack on Ann -- that are so logical in their structure that they're a marvel of horror storytelling. The script and the director get a lot of help from a generally excellent cast -- Forrest Tucker makes a rugged hero while still being convincingly intellectual, and Laurence Payne, in his somewhat reduced role, adds some extra energy to the proceedings; Warren Mitchell carries a lot of the script and the storytelling as Professor Crevett; and Jennifer Jayne and Janet Munro, as the two sisters who are in jeopardy from the horror on the mountain, make a convincing pair of siblings, with Munro giving one of the best performances of her tragically short career. The production is also helped by the unusually good photography, courtesy of Monty Berman (with future director Desmond Davis operating the camera), which deliberately alternates styles -- flat and realistic in the exterior and establishing shots, as though one is watching a travelogue; and richer in contrast and detail as the dramatic scenes proceed, the one style enhancing the impact of the other. Stanley Black, best remembered as a conductor, also provides a surprisingly good score. The only moments where the movie does lapse are a couple of very bad special effects shots involving the alien invaders attacking the heroes, and one terrible use of a model plane in the climactic aerial attack on the alien invaders, which looks completely amateurish in one shot.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Image Entertainment
[B&W, Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital, monaural]

Special Features

Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Forrest Tucker Alan Brooks
Laurence Payne Philip Truscott
Janet Munro Anne Pilgrim
Jennifer Jayne Sarah Pilgrim
Warren Mitchell Prof. Crevett
Andrew Faulds Brett
Frederick Schiller Klein
Stuart Saunders Dewhurst
Colin Douglas Hans
Derek Sydney Wilde
Richard Golding Villager
George Herbert Second Villager
Anne Sharp German Woman
Garard Green Pilot
Theodore Wilhelm Actor
Jeremy Longhurst First Student Climber
Jack Taylor Actor

Technical Credits
Quentin Lawrence Director
Robert S. Baker Producer
Monty Berman Cinematographer,Producer
Stanley Black Score Composer
Desmond Davis Camera Operator
Norman Harrison Asst. Director
Eleanor Jones Makeup
Henry Richardson Editor
Jimmy Sangster Screenwriter
Duncan Sutherland Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selection
1. Terror on the Trollenberg; Main Title [3:51]
2. Traveling Companions [4:26]
3. Hotel Europa [7:59]
4. The Observatory [7:41]
5. Anne's Gift [9:41]
6. "That Cloud Has Started Moving" [2:40]
7. The Search Party [4:10]
8. Anne's Ascent [6:07]
9. Finding Brett [2:11]
10. Invasion Theories [3:17]
11. Brett Returns [6:40]
12. The Walking Dead [3:58]
13. Evacuation [6:29]
14. Hans' Threat [4:20]
15. Alan's Answer [4:52]
16. Bombing the Cloud [5:22]


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The Crawling Eye 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
antimater More than 1 year ago
good ols fiftys sci fi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago