The Crawling Eye

“Sounds Crazy To Me–Bombing A Cloud…”

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The Crawling Eye, 1957 Sci-fi/Horror

This classic-era sci-fi movie has an interesting angle with the psychic Anne (Janet Munro). Her and her mind-reader-sister Sarah (Jennifer Jayne) happen to be drawn to the Trollenberg just as the mayhem begins with a climber’s gruesome death. And then the scientists converge (Forrest Tucker as Alan, William Mitchell as Prof. Crevett) for an ‘urgent’ meeting concerning disappearing and dead climbers and strange clouds “a radioactive freak of nature.” Then there’s superstitious villagers, including a rumored clairvoyant ‘witch’. A rare sci-fi/horror double theme–the isolated setting matches up well with both genres.

The practical effect of Anne’s premonitions is to help create suspense by foreshadowing. Although the monster isn’t completely visible until near the end, it’s gradually revealed, thanks to its cloudy, foggy ‘wrappings’. Plus it leaves its calling card, headless corpses. As seems to be part of the recipe for some films of this type, the monster recruits the victims into a sort of zombie posse. It seems that the redoubtable scientists quickly surmise that the phenomenon is extra-terrestrial; not only that, but also that it’s bent on world domination, due to its dying world, etc. Sometimes it takes the majority of a movie’s run time to reach these conclusions.These guys must’ve seen their fair share of sci-fi movies–it’s good that skepticism isn’t a major plot point, but here conjecture equals facts. Alan seems to anticipate everything–a bit too convenient.

The horror aspect is never far away, as a dutiful knife-wielding ex-climber-zombie stalks Anne, only to be shot in the nick of time. The cloud mist literally crawling under doorways is a memorable image. Also, the scene of the little girl chasing her ball while the finally-revealed eye tries to ensnare her. Come to think of it, the combination of the supernatural-like eye’s misty incarnation and it’s use of extreme cold are powerful tools. We could quibble with the zombie deal, however. Since those guys are dead, how can shooting and stabbing ‘kill’ them? Anyway, at long last, the eye(s), err, octopus, crawls up to the headquarters (observatory) in full array. It’s cool that there’s more than one, always a plus in movies like this. No monster deprivation.

The antidote to our crawling nemesis is as obvious as it is logical: fire bombs. Nice to see RAF Glouster Meteors on the attack instead of the usual Starfighters or Shooting Stars as in U.S. movies of this era. With the mountain barbeque complete, we exit quickly, which is noteworthy. We’re spared the omniscient narrator going on about saving civilization, mankind, etc. One final quibble, how does the observatory avoid incineration? After all, Alan made it explicit to the pilots to basically bomb their position.

This is a fairly quickly-paced, well-acted, suspenseful effort. Pretty good special effects too. Both sci-fi and horror elements work well and complement each other. Both genres have in common an antagonistic being or force that needs to be dealt with before everyone is demonized, killed, or whatnot.

Worth watching: 7  /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ haystacks

David Carniglia 7:22 PM (34 minutes ago)
to farmerpeemouse

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