The Crawling Eye is a 1958 British Sci-Fi Horror film directed by Quentin Lawrence, starring Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, and Janet Munro. It was adapted by screenwriter Jimmy Sangster from the 1956–57 ITV serial The Trollenberg Terror, and was originally released in the UK under that title.
At the remote Alpine Swiss village of Trollenberg, someone or something is killing off mountain climbers. The culprits turn out to be an army of enormous, one-eyed, tentacled creatures from outer space, who hide themselves in a radioactive cloud. Crawling along like snails, these horrific beasts attempt to neutralize their human foes by pumping a freezing fog at them. And it helps matters not at all that some of the locals have been mentally enslaved by the monsters. It's up to American scientist Alan Brooks (Tucker) to save the day.
Stephen King considered this one of the scariest of the many horror movies he saw as a kid, and the climax of It features the eye monsters, while The Mist has a very similiar premise to this movie. It was also a big part of the inspiration for John Carpenter's The Fog (1980).
If you feel you've seen the poster art before in a different context, that's probably because the movie The Eye Creatures shamelessly reused the art for its own poster despite its creatures looking completely different.
Tropes used in the film:
- Achilles' Heel: The aliens, and to a lesser extent their servants, are incredibly sensitive to heat. It's for this reason that they always begin their invasions at the tops of cold mountains.
- Benevolent Conspiracy: Alan and Prof. Crevett are part of a low-level one, having limited experience with the monsters already in the backstory, though they're never come face-to-eyeball with the things.
- Big Sister Instinct: Anne's sister wants nothing more than to get her the heck out of there.
- Bilingual Bonus: Some characters speak unsubtitled German at times.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: A couple of the mountaineers are hypnotized to try to kill Anne.
- Convection, Schmonvection: The aliens attacking the observatory are defeated by having an airplane firebomb the observatory. But despite the fact that the aliens had already broken through the walls of the observatory in an attempt to get to Anne, the fires do not spread into the observatory itself and harm any of the people taking shelter there.
- Cowardly Lion: The villagers are afraid of the mountain after all of the "accidents" and other weird goings-on, but when hikers are in trouble, they don't hesitate to get out their climbing gear and head up the mountain to help.
- Dead Man Walking: If the aliens don't immediately kill someone, they'll abduct them and do something to them that converts the victim into a cold, dead but still active & lucid husk of their former self that is subservient to the aliens' will.
- Fainting: Anne does this a lot. Presumably it's due to outside influence, namely the aliens' minds being too much for her own to handle.
- Gorn: This film is shockingly gore-soaked for the period in which it was made.
- Herr Doktor: Professor Crevett, the German lead scientist at the observatory. Unlike the archetypal example, he's not at all a Mad Scientist and is instead a very fun, friendly and compassionate man who spends much of his screentime trying to help.
- Hostile Terraforming: The film is about aliens' native air slowly enveloping a mountain and later the surrounding area. Professor Crevett theorizes that with enough time to acclimate, they could eventually adapt to and terraform the whole planet.
- Impostor-Exposing Test: Those made into servants of the aliens apparently lack finer motor control that they had when they were human. Brooks gets a pretty good idea that Brett isn't himself anymore when he fails to pour his own drink or light his own cigarette upon being given one of each. Their sensitivity to heat is another tell, which is how the audience finds out Hans has become one later on.
- Intrepid Reporter: Philip is a newspaper reporter who's been investigating the alien phenomenon through Alan's past involvement in the aforementioned Benevolent Conspiracy.
- Molotov Cocktail: Used to fight the monsters.
- Night of the Living Mooks: The aliens are able to reanimate their victims as their own operatives.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Probably due to the sizable age gap, there is no particular romantic tension between Brooks and either of the Pilgrim sisters.
- Obscured Special Effects: For most of the movie, the aliens stay hidden in the strange cloud on the side of the mountain, although we do eventually get a good look at them.
- Off with His Head!: The aliens' preferred method of murder, apparently for no other reason than the shock value.
- Power Incontinence: Normally Anne seems to be able to control her psychic powers well enough, but inadvertently making contact with the aliens causes her to have uncontrollable bouts of telepathic vision that usually end in her fainting.
- The Professor: Professor Crevett, who runs the observatory.
- Psychic Powers: Anne has some level of mind-reading which she uses for parlour tricks. But she also seems to have a form of clairvoyance which draws her to Trollenberg and which lets her see what the aliens are up to (although she can't detect the aliens themselves).
- Spotting the Thread: The first victim is described as having been decapitated by his belaying rope when it tangled around his neck. It's quickly pointed out that the rope was secured about his waist and could not have gotten around his neck in the first place.
- Starfish Aliens: Big veiny blobs with eyeballs and Combat Tentacles.
- The Stoic: Averted; everyone, including the men, react with realistic horror upon seeing the mutilated victims.
- Telepathy: Anne's psychic powers are framed like this, with her being able to look into other people's minds, allowing her and her sister to perform their mind-reading act. It causes problems when she unknowingly starts looking into the minds of the aliens as well.
- Whole-Plot Reference: Freakazoid! used this as the basis of an entire episode ("The Cloud"), except the victims are turned into, um...clowns. Its that kind of show.