Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Trollenberg Terror

A while back, I decided to watch "The Trollenberg Terror," a cheesy 1950s horror movie that was alternately titled "The Crawling Eye" -- the second title is also the title of a Misfits song off Famous Monsters, and it gives way too much of the movie away.

Anyway, here's as far as I made it through a minute-by-minute "live blog" of the movie-watching experience.


Greetings, sports fans.

For tonight’s entry in my neglected blog, I’m going to be watching “The Trollenberg Terror,” a 1958 movie also commonly known as “The Crawling Eye.”

I’m not exactly sure what to expect – here’s what I know, though. “The Trollenberg Terror” was directed by Quentin Lawrence and involves mysterious and hideous alien creatures taking up residence in a radioactive cloud at the top of Trollenberg Mountain in Switzerland. Mayhem and carnage ensue. There’s talk of some psychic chick who has an inside track to the aliens – but this is just me going off the Misfits song, “Crawling Eye,” from Famous Monsters.

Let’s begin!

The opening screen is a message from the British Board of Film Censors, and certifies that the film is okay for display as long as no one less than 16 years old is present. Apparently, the Crawling Eye predates the MPAA – I’m not yet sure which is more horrible, though.

00:00:39 – A rather beautiful panning shot of the Swiss Alps. There are some mountain climbers on one of the mountains.

00:01:40 – The two climbers are calling to their buddy Jimmy, off-screen. He says someone’s coming. His pals ask if it’s the abominable snowman. Jimmy screams and falls off the mountain hilariously.

00:02:09 – Fortunately, Jimmy has been secured to his pals by a climbing rope, which they use to haul him back up to their level. Unfortunately, he’s dead anyway. We don’t get to see what exactly has happened to him, but his arm is bloody and his friend in the white knit cap screams “NO!” when he catches a glimpse of him. The rope frays and breaks, and poor ol’ Jim takes the quick way down the mountain. Aliens – 1, Humans – 0.

00:02:18 – An interesting discussion between the two remaining climbers: “You idiot, we almost had him! Why did you let go?” “Didn’t you see him? His head – it was torn off!” Seems like that would have been the first thing they’d both notice. Decapitation isn’t exactly a minor detail.

00:02:20 – Cut to a train racing through the mountains. Credits roll, accompanied by a stereotypical “high tension” orchestral score.

00:03:57 – We’re back on the train, and we’re meeting some travelers -- a mother, who I’m going to assume for the moment is named Betty Crocker, and her daughter Anne, who, according to Betty, was talking in her sleep right before we made it into their train compartment. An old guy with a horrible perm is sitting across from them, reading a newspaper.

00:04:43 – Hey, wait a minute here. Maybe they’re not mother and daughter. Anne seems to be at least a teenager, and Betty Crocker suddenly appears to be in her 20s. Sisters, maybe?

00:04:57 – Anne faints and falls into Old Creep’s newspaper.

00:05:14 – …but she recovers quickly, and is completely unalarmed by waking up lying in an old dude’s lap. He introduces himself as “Alan Brooks.” A likely story. Anne introduces herself as Anne Pilgrim, and clues us into the fact that the other woman is her sister, Sarah. Sorry, Sarah – at first I thought you were her mom.

00:05:40 – Mr. Brooks helps out by giving Anne a shot from his clearly well-used flask. Man, the ‘50s were awesome.

00:06:10 – The conductor announces that the next stop for the train is Trollenberg. Although Sarah has said the two are on their way to Geneva, Anne immediately takes interest in Trollenberg, stating that she can’t go any further and that’s where they’ll be stopping. Brooks, conveniently, is also stopping there. Anne says they can stay at the Hotel Europa. At this point, I’m pretty sure Anne is the psychic chick.

00:06:56 – The party has arrived in Trollenberg and met a buddy of Mr. Brooks’, a wacky Swiss guy who apparently runs the Europa. He agrees to lodge the Pilgrims without notice, and alludes vaguely to how this is normally a busy time of year, but not this season…

00:07:52 – Brooks offers the girls cigarettes while the Swiss dude drives them to the hotel. There’s a discussion about how climbers disappear into the mist and are never seen again. The party disembarks the car in front of an incredibly fake mountain backdrop. Inside the hotel, there’s a guy smoking his face off while a drinking beer. It’s Philip Truscott, who apparently has been expecting Brooks. He thinks the Pilgrims’ name rings a bell, and the women head up to their room.

00:09:46 – Anne looks out her window at Mount Trollenberg and seems to know all the details about the area. She gets scared and asks Sarah, “Why does it seem like I’ve seen it all before?” Why would Sarah know, you crazy wench?

00:11:12 – Truscott stops by Brooks’ room and asks if he’s a climber, and Brooks says not if he can help it. Truscott helpfully observes that Trollenberg is an odd place to come for vacation if you aren’t a mountain climber, and notices that Brooks is packing a revolver. Truscott launches into a creepy discussion about Anne and Sarah being attractive girls, and offers to buy Brooks a drink later on. Truscott leaves, but Brooks overhears him talking on the hall phone shortly after, asking a friend to check on an “Alan Brooks, 40, American.” Brooks dramatically removes his horn-rimmed glasses, squints, then heads downstairs.

00:12:52 – Holy shit, people in the ‘50s were total drunks. Brooks runs into two mountain climbers, Duratt and Brett, in the lobby who are about to head off to climb up Trollenberg. They inform him that they’re going to have a “noggin” before they head up, and that they’re going to need a bottle of brandy for the trip. I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I always get smashed before I try to climb any mountains more than a mile high. Brooks agrees to join them for a nip and orders up a Scotch.

00:13:34 – Sarah and Truscott show up, and Duratt orders them drinks. He explains that it’s his first mountain climb, and that he’s a geologist. Truscott advises the climbers to keep an eye on their rope, and brings up the guys who were climbing around in the opening scene. “Nasty business,” everyone agrees.

00:14:53 – Truscott said some guides found the bodies of “Jimmy” and his pals, and that even though the official story is that the young climber had been decapitated by his climbing rope, the rope had actually been found around his waist, still tied – which apparently would make it impossible to loop around his neck. This is all as per Hans, the bartender, who’s busy being mysterious and cryptic while getting everyone shitfaced. Truscott prods Hans to tell the party what the villagers are saying – which is that the decapitation happened before his fall.

00:15:41 – Brooks follows the two drunk climbers up to the observatory in the cable car. They have some discussion about chemical changes within rocks on their way up, which doesn’t sound even remotely scientific.

00:16:41 – The observatory. Nutty professors are looking out through telescopes, and “The Professor” is busily scribbling notes in a pad. He’s irritated at first when one of his lab-coat-wearing flunkies tells him there’s someone at the door to see him, but changes his tune and becomes excited when he learns that it’s Alan Brooks. I think the professor is drunk, too.

00:17:52 – The professor shows Brooks a bank of screens, which are off. He turns them on, and they display views of the mountain. “You see? Television cameras on the roof. We watch everything!” he exclaims, then promptly turns the monitors back off. He’s definitely drunk.

00:18:35 – The professor brags about how his equipment is all very expensive, and that it’s to study “cosmic rays.”

00:20:08 – The accidents are discussed again, and the professor says remains are never found. This seems to be in direct contradiction to the villagers' discovery of Jimmy's decapitated body, but who's really keeping score? He also mentions a radioactive cloud that seems to be hanging around the side of Mount Trollenberg. The two discuss “an incident” that took place three years prior, in the Andes.

00:22:31 – “Climbers on the Trollenberg!” one of the lab coat flunkies shouts. It’s our besotted buddies from the hotel, Duratt and Brett.

00:24:00 – Back in the observatory, Brooks and the professor disagree over whether to go to the authorities. Something fishy is up, but Brooks wants hard facts before he sticks his neck out again, which apparently is what happened in the Andes. Meanwhile, the two wino-geologists have made it to the cabin a ways up the Trollenberg.


That's as far as I made it. I watched the rest of the movie, and surely enough, there are aliens, they're basically gargantuan eyeballs with tentacles, there's a confrontation, and the good guys win. Everyone drinks copiously. The end.

Check it out -- it's definitely entertaining.