The Crawling Eye (1958) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A remote mountain resort in Switzerland is invaded by horrible alien creatures that like to decapitate humans. The beings are also in telepathic communication with people and inhabit a mysterious, radioactive cloud at the base of the Trollenberg mountain.

  • A series of decapitations on a Swiss mountainside appear to be connected to a mysterious radioactive cloud.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The opening screen of Jimmy Sangster's screenplay adaptation of Peter Key's Associated Television (ATV) - Saturday Serial, The Trollenberg Terror (1956), presents a certification from the British Board of Film Censors clearing this film for audiences of 16 years or older.

    The scene opens on the Swiss Alps. A small village nestled between steep mountain peaks. The camera pans slowly to the top of Trollenberg Mountain's rugged face. A single small cloud clings to the side .

    Two climbers (Jeremy Longhurst and Anthony Parker) huddle together on a ledge overlooking the valley below as a third climber, (Jack Taylor), calls to them from above.

    complains to them of a sudden bitter cold and a fog that has abruptly reduced visibility. He calls out to them that someone is coming in his direction, but that he can't make them out in the fog. He screams and falls past his fellows on the ledge below. Acting quickly they secure his rope and begin to pull him back up. As his motionless blood-stained body comes in view one of them Anthony Parker falls mute, staring in horror at what he sees. He falters, and as the other climber, Jeremy Longhurst, continues to pull against the weight the rope wears thin against the jagged rock face. The body falls unseen down the face of the cliff. Jeremy Longhurst, shouts at Anthony Parker, "you idiot, we nearly had him." Anthony Parker stares frozen and pale, "Didn't you see? His head... it was torn off!"

    In the valley below a train speeds by through tall fir trees. As it approaches a tunnel mouth the film title races out of the tunnel toward the viewer, "The Trollenberg Terror (1958)," in jagged text, as the train plunges into the blackness of the tunnel. Stanley Black's music crescendos in suspense as the opening credits flash across the screen. The train emerges into daylight at the far end of the tunnel as the credits end.

    Two attractive young women, and (Jennifer Jayne and Janet Munro) on their way to Geneva, nap together in a non-descript cabin car aboard the train as a gentleman, (Forrest Tucker), seated opposite them reads his newspaper. Anne stirs and Sarah wakes her from her nap, apparently disturbed by a dream she doesn't quite recall. Sarah directs Anne's attention to the mountain view outside the train cabin window. As she looks out toward Mount Trollenberg her cheerful smile melts into a seeming trance. She turns away from the window inexplicably shaken by something she has apparently seen and collapses into the arms of Alan Brooks, leading to an awkward introduction.

    The train's conductor wanders by, as they converse, announcing the next stop as Trollenberg. Anne announces that they must get off there to her sister's amazement. More shocking still Anne seems to know the town in great detail, though she has never been there, even naming the Hotel Europa as their destination, seemingly without having any way of knowing the hotel even exists. Sarah protests, but Anne insists, yet still completely unable to explain her knowledge of the town or the reason she feels compelled to stop there. Mr. Brooks retreats into an uncomfortable silence at the oddly tense exchange, as the train rolls into the station.

    A man enters the Trollenberg train station strolling briskly past scenic tourist wall posters of a lush valley overlooked by snow capped mountains. In the station lobby, (Frederick Schiller), the proprietor of the Hotel Europa and the Mayor of Trollenberg, introduces himself, as Alan Brooks introduces him to the Pilgrim Sisters, Anne and Sarah. Sarah apologizes for and then thanks Herr Klein for him accommodating them without a reservation at the Europa and Herr Klein becomes uncomfortable with a nervous attempt to explain why his hotel isn't fully booked during his peak season, On the drive from the train station to the hotel Anne becomes distracted, and begins describing the recent death of the climber on Mt. Trollenberg. She seems to be babbling details she couldn't possibly know, yet Herr Klein is noticeably shaken by statements she pulls out of thin air. Herr Klein stumbles through a clumsy apology for both the death of the young climber and then an account by Anne of the mountain folk leaving the area in the belief that it is in some way cursed. It is revealed that this recent tragedy is not the first death on the mountain, and that it has become a common occurrence for those who venture there to disappear without a trace.

    The car approaches the hotel along a picturesque tree lined road. A balcony overlooks an immaculate garden at the front of a quaint gabled chalet with a small mazot outbuilding in the background. The scene is framed by the alps, half shrouded in mist. Amidst the beauty of the scene Alan Brooks and the Pilgrim Sisters exit the car. Anne seems unnerved by Mt. Trollenberg, looming above them in the landscape.

    Journalist, (Laurence Payne), sips on his beer and smokes at the small bar as the group enters the hotel lobby. (Colin Douglas) tends the bar and excuses himself to unload the car as Truscott introduces himself to the group. He seems to recognize the sisters from somewhere, though he is unable for the moment to place them. The sisters retire to their room, and Sarah opens the window on a view of Mt. Trollenberg. Anne looks out upon the scene and once again becomes transfixed, describing details of a hiking shack, and cable car of which she has no prior knowledge, as though looking out on the scene she is able to see features to distant to be visible, in more detail than mere description or memory, but as though she were there. She becomes frustrated with the reasons the mountain seems so familiar to her, electing at Sarah's suggestion to believe that she must have read about it in a travel brochure, rather than as Anne suspects, that she remembers it from scenes in a dream. Anne gazes out again at the mountain, this time silent but still haunted by her attraction to it and something terrifying that she is unable to recall.

    Truscott pays Mr. Brooks a visit in his room, exchanging pleasantries and small talk as Brooks unpacks his bags. Truscott's banal seeming banter gives way to subtle interrogation as Brooks' answers become more curious to him. As Brooks finishes unpacking his revolver is plainly visible, and Truscott's curiosity is whetted. Truscott suddenly recalls where he has seen Sarah and Anne before and reveals to Brooks' amusement that they are performers with a mind-reading act. Truscott, excuses himself to his own room down the hall, but fails to close the door to his room. As Brooks leaves his own room he overhears Truscott on the telephone, requesting that Brooks be checked out. Brooks shrugs it off, but puzzles for a moment. As he enters the lobby his contemplation is broken as he's greeted by geologist (Stuart Saunders) and his mountain guide, (Andrew Faulds) who are finalizing their plans to climb "The Trollenberg." is intent on finding the reason behind the rash of deaths on the mountain and suspects that some peculiar mineral formation must be the problem, while remains skeptical. Dewhurst buys a round of drinks for everyone as they wander down from their rooms, all except Anne, who has remained behind to have a quiet nap, Sarah seeming to be of the impression that her sister's strange behavior is the result of stress and over-work.

    Truscott admonishes Brett to "mind his roping," and they begin an exchange concerning the terrible and peculiar death of the young climber the previous week. Truscott suggests that the rope had become tangled around the climbers neck, and had decapitated him. Hans reluctantly disagrees, and tells the room that the matter is more mysterious still, that the rope had been tied around the young climber's waist, and that the villagers did not share the opinion that it had decapitated him, but something else, something evil.

    As the gathering breaks up, Brooks hitches a ride with Brett and Dewhurst on the cable car on his way to "The Observatory." On the long cable-car ride up the mountain, Dewhurst explains his theory that chemical changes in the mountain rocks could be loosening or cracking them, making climbing the mountain a dangerous enterprise as Brett looks on unconvinced.

    The cosmic ray observatory is an imposing structure, more like a bunker than an academic facility. Massive, windowless concrete walls taper upward like the battlements of a fortress. The handrails of a long twisting stair can be seen winding up the ragged slope.

    In the laboratory (Warren Mitchell) pours over the observatory's cosmic ray detector and flusters impatiently when interrupted by his assistant, (Derek Sydney) informing him of a visitor. He greets Brooks at the observatory's entrance, a heavily reinforced steel door befitting the robust construction of the observatory itself. Even the observatory's single window is shielded by a huge steel shutter which the professor demonstrates. TV monitors provide the exterior view from a console inside, making the observatory proof against the worst avalanche imaginable.

    A cryptic conversation ensues between Brooks and the professor concerning the death of the student mountain climber, and many many other similar incidents in which, as the professor explains, no bodies had ever been found. Mysterious disappearances all in the same area of The Trollenberg. Brooks discounts them as the unfortunate but inevitable result of inexperienced climbers underestimating the dangers of the treacherous peak. The professor argues that Mt. Trollenberg has a single small cloud on its south face, which should not be there. Brooks is unimpressed but one senses that there is a hidden significance to the presence of the small cloud, "where there are mountains there are always clouds," Brooks says, almost as though he is trying to convince himself. At least he seems skeptical until the professor reveals that this cloud never moves, and is radioactive. He demonstrates to Brooks using the observatory's cosmic ray detector, scanning the mountain, and each scan registering high radiation levels as the scanner passes the cloud. Their past association is revealed as the conversation turns to an incident three years prior in the Andes, where a similar pattern emerged. They shroud the nature of the incident as though reluctant to say in plain terms that they suspected a sinister cause. The professor urges Brooks to alert the authorities, but he's reluctant. The incident in the Andes damaged his credibility and was still an embarrassment to him. If no evidence were found to support him this time, he would look like a fool, and his career would likely end abruptly. Concerned but uncertain of a course of action he hesitates. "This can't be the same. There are too many things missing," Brooks exclaims, "mental compulsion..." He stops in mid-sentence suddenly recalling Anne Pilgrim's strange attraction to Trollenberg and her odd behavior.

    Wilde interrupts, shouting across the laboratory room, "there's climbers on The Trollenberg!" His statement alarms Crevett and Brooks and they turn there attention to the climbers immediately. Professor Crevett activates the TV monitors and zooms in on the climbers as they ascend the mountain toward a small cabin. Brooks recognizes the geologist, Dewhurst and his guide, Brett.

    The professor presses Brooks to act on the situation, but Brooks is still reluctant. "...I'm not going to stick my neck out again like I did in the Andes," he murmurs. "...they practically accused me of dreaming the whole thing up. If I was to take a hand here, I'd have to have a list of documented facts, and they'd have to be pretty conclusive." Brooks appears troubled. He seems to know that Crevett is right, yet his experience in the Andes has made him leery of the repercussions of making their theory public.

    Dewhurst and Brett arrive at the cabin without incident to the great relief of Brooks. The small cabin is little more than an eight foot by ten foot wooden shack of rough hewn planks set against a landscape of snowy mountain ridges. Brett enters followed by Dewhurst and after stowing his pack on the upper bunk at the back wall, begins a casual examination of the cabin's facilities, a few small pots and pans, an oil burning portable stove. Brett uses the cabin's primitive telephone to ring the Hotel Europa to inform Herr Klein of their safe arrival. It seems to reinforce the notion that the accidents have simply been a coincidence caused by a large number of careless climbers. Brooks and Crevett share his relief, but they obviously hold some doubt in reserve.

    Evening comes as Brett and Dewhurst settle in. Brett busies himself with notes of some kind as Dewhurst dozes in the lower bunk. Brett opens the cabin door and notes that visibility has declined. A small cloud has moved down the mountain and brought with it both thick fog and an intense chill.

    Meanwhile, in the lobby of the Hotel Europa, the Pilgrim Sisters are entertaining the guests with there mind-reading act. Anne correctly identifies a bank note reading off the serial number without ever seeing the note, to the delight of the onlookers. A second object is introduced. Anne correctly identifies it as a snow globe, describing the scene inside the small glass dome. As she begins to detail the small cabin in the scene, her trance becomes dark and disturbing. She is no longer describing the cabin in the snow globe but the cabin on the slopes of The Trollenberg where Brett and Dewhurst have camped for the night. She describes the two men in the cabin, as Brett himself seems to fall under some sort of trance. He leaves the cabin as if sleep walking, seemingly oblivious to having left the door open he walks off into the distance. Anne describes him coming up the slope and Dewhurst sleeping in the bunk. The guests become alarmed and her sister, Sarah becomes fearful of her sister's unexplained deviation from their act. Anne collapses as Brooks rushes to the phone. He calls the cabin and wakes Dewhurst. As Dewhurst assures Brooks that everything is quite alright and that Brett must have simply stepped out for a bit of air.

    Anne awakens in her bed with her sister, Truscott and Prof. Crevett watching over her. Crevett takes Sarah aside and insists that she must take Anne away from the area in the morning. Anne is sedated and left to sleep as the others return to the hotel lobby. Crevett comments to Brooks that in her trance, Anne had described Brett from the perspective not of the cabin, but from outside the cabin, as though observing him from further up the mountain slope.

    Crevett briefly interrogates Sarah and confirms that Anne is genuinely telepathic. He again insists that Sarah remove Anne from the area first thing in the morning, but is less than candid when she presses him for an explanation. The phone rings in the hotel lobby, and Crevett is called to speak to his assistant, Wilde. He alerts the professor that the strange radioactive cloud has begun to move slowly down the face of The Trollenberg toward the cabin and that its radioactivity has begun to increase. Crevett informs Brooks that the cloud has moved into the vicinity of the cabin and Brooks rushes to the phone. Dewhurst answers and confirms that Brett has not yet returned but that he can't see far outside do to the heavy fog. It has also become bitterly cold. As they converse he hears something outside the cabin. He checks the door, locking with door with a bar from the inside. However, it looks like the unseen danger has entered the cabin from a back door as Dewhurst begins to scream and Brooks cannot do anything but for listening to the screams in horror. The phone line goes dead leaving all at the Hotel Europa in panic and suspense.

    Once again the phone rings in the hotel lobby, as Wilde informs the professor that the cloud has begun to move away from the cabin again.

    Mayor Klein, Brooks, Truscott and several villagers gather just before dawn in the hotel lobby and prepare packs and ropes for a rescue expedition. Herr Klein calls for a search plane, but doesn't expect that it will arrive until later that morning.

    Anne stirs restlessly shortly after dawn, tossing in her sleep and muttering. She describes men coming up the mountain to the hut. Crevett and Sarah attempt to calm her. She returns to sleep and Sarah presses the professor once again for an explanation for her sister's behavior. This time hew does explain in closely guarded words that Anne is sensitive to the mental images that Sarah transmits to her during their act, but that like a radio receiver, her mind is now overwhelmed by the mental images projected by a much stronger mind.

    On the slopes of The Trollenberg, the rescue party arrives at the cabin. The door bolted from the inside. Herr Klein knocks and calls to the men he is certain must be inside. Brooks breaks the door in and finds the interior of the cabin frozen. Ice crystals glitter on the blankets on the bunks. They find Dewhurst under the bottom bunk, his head mysteriously missing.

    Sarah serves her sister breakfast in bed as she makes her intentions known that they depart Trollenberg immediately. Anne argues at first but appears to relent when Sarah insists. Sarah excuses herself to the lobby to make the arrangements and Anne once again falls into a trance in her absence. She gazes out the window at The Trollenberg, the small odd cloud clinging close to its face in the distance. She dresses in haste, as though possessed by a purpose.

    The search party prepares a litter and carries Dewhurst's body, Truscott discovers the broken phone lines, and Brooks examines them closely. They crumble at his touch crystallized by intense cold.

    Anne sneaks out of the hotel, leaving Sarah behind. She holds her head with her hands as if fighting off enormous pressure. She gazes up again to the cloud.as the search plane passes overhead. She heads off in the direction of the mountain.

    Two members of the search party (Richard Golding) and (George Herbert), greet the approaching search plane with a portable radio. They exchange map coordinates with the (Garard Green) and begin their search for Brett.

    Sarah returns to the hotel room to find Anne missing along with her coat. As she searches for her out the window the cable car passes in the distance. Sarah rushes from the room to catch her as Anne stands in the cable car, her gaze locked ahead at The Trollenberg. Sarah rushes to the phone to alert the professor at the observatory that her sister is on her way up in the cable car.

    The search plane circles high above the slopes and the pilot radios the search party that he has sighted Brett, waving below. He reports Brett's position and heads off into the distance.

    Wilde meets Anne at the cable car platform and escorts her there under weak protest.

    (Richard Golding) and (George Herbert) head to Brett's location and find his pack, but Brett himself doesn't seem to be around. As they examine the contents of the pack they find Dewhurst's severed head. Brett appears suddenly with a look of crazed homicidal lust in his eyes, wielding a climbing pick he attacks them, killing each of them in turn.

    The professor and Wilde busy themselves with measurements at the observatory as Anne sits quietly. She rises unnoticed and slips past them, sneaking to the massive steel entrance door. On opening the door however she is met by Brooks, Hans, Truscott and the returning members of the search party. She attempts to leave, but Brooks prevents her.

    Later back at the Hotel Europa, after returning Anne to her bed, Brooks and Professor Crevett discuss the strange radioactive cloud. Truscott interupts, and during the conversation that ensues reveals himself to be a journalist, investigating the mysterious deaths and disappearances. He also knows something of the incident in the Andes. He confronts them both about stories that they had attributed the strange events in the Andes to alien creatures. Brooks himself then reveals that his role in his position at the UN is part of a special taskforce to investigate possible alien invasions.

    Brett to everyone's amazement, wanders in as though nothing has happened. No longer crazed, but seems exhausted and complains that the temperature is too hot. Weak and uncoordinated his motor skills terribly damaged somehow, he attempts to pour himself a drink and spills brandy all over the bar. Anne wanders down from her room, and at the sight of her Brett resumes his crazed state, drawing a knife from his belt and lunges for her. Brooks punches him soundly and sends him spinning backward. His head strikes a bronze statue of a wolf, howling which gashes his head deeply. He collapses to the floor, but to the shock of Truscott and Sarah, the wound doesn't bleed. Brett is carried into the wine cellar where Professor Crevett stitches his forehead. They leave, locking him in the wine cellar while they discuss informing the UN of the situation and Brett's zombie like condition.

    Brett awakens and hides against the wine cellar door as Mayor Klein approaches. Herr Klein peers in through the small window in the door and Brett grabs him by the neck, killing him and retrieving the mayor's keys from his pocket. Hearing the commotion, Sarah stirs from her sleep and goes to investigate. Brett finds a large clever in the kitchen and shuffles toward the stairway to the bedrooms on the upper floor just as Sarah reaches the top of the stair and sees him, alerting Alan Brooks. Brett enters the sister's room as Sarah pounds on Brook's door in panic. Brooks appears behind Brett in the doorway as Anne awakens, Brett standing over her bed with the clever raised to strike. Anne screams as a single shot rings out and Brett falls to the floor, Brooks standing in the doorway, revolver in hand.

    Crevett and Brooks begin an examination of Brett's body noting a peculiar cast to his skin. Crevett instructs Hans to hold his oil lamp lower to allow a better view and as he does so the flesh of Brett's arm seems to vaporize, leaving only skeletal remains. Truscott bursts into the room and announces that the observatory has phoned to tell them that the radioactive cloud has begun to move down the mountain again, this time directly toward the village.

    Brooks decides that they should all head for the observatory due to the heavily fortified structure, but Hans panics and speeds off toward the valley straight into the path of the oncoming cloud. Brooks gathers the party and a number of villagers together and they head off to the cable car. As they leave, a (Caroline Glaser) drops her toy ball in the hotel lobby.

    From the platform they watch the cloud pour down from The Trollenberg into the village below. It stops in front of the hotel. The toy ball lies on the floor in the middle of the lobby as wisps of frosty mist can be seen under the lobby door.

    The cable car arrives at the platform and as they party rushes to the car, a (Anne Sharp) realizes her daughter is nowhere to be found. Brooks instructs Truscott to leave him behind if he doesn't return before the cloud heads toward them, and he heads back down toward the village and the hotel in search of the child.

    In the hotel lobby, the doors begin to shake and finally break inward revealing the horror outside. A massive bulbous creature with long sinuous tentacles and a single enormous eye presses against the frame of the door, peering and reaching about inside the lobby with its tentacles. The young girl enters the lobby from the side entrance unaware of the danger lurking a few meters away and retrieves her toy ball. The alien seizes her with a tentacle as Alan Brooks bursts in through the window pick-axe in hand. He severs the tentacle holding her and rushes her away as the alien wails in pain. They return to the cable car and begin the ascent to the observatory as mist begins to filter onto the cable car platform below. Frost begins to form on the cable car pulley and the cable car lurches violently as the mechanism begins to freeze. The cable car arrives at the observatory platform and Brooks rushes the passengers out, fearing the cable could snap at any moment.

    The thick steel door of the observatory opens and Wilde ushers the party inside, rushing Brooks and Truscott to the main laboratory while the villagers huddle in the entry hall. In the laboratory Crevett informs them that the cloud has broken up into separate clouds, four, then five, all moving toward the observatory.

    On the video monitor Hans appears at the door. Wilde goes to let him in and asks him what happened. Hans explains that he ran into the cloud on the road and turned around. He seems mildly confused and disoriented and complains that the room is too hot, grasping at the collar of his sweater. They leave Hans in the entry hall and return to the lab. Hans peers around the corner and meets Anne's gaze. A crazed look comes over him as Anne retreats quietly to the professor's office at the rear of the lab.

    (Theodore Wilhelm) the professor's other assistant sits at a large console and alerts the professor of a sudden drop in temperature on the platform outside. Brooks begins to puzzle out the need for cold by the creatures as well as those who have come under their control. He mentions that Brett complained of the heat in the hotel before attempting to kill Anne, and Wilde interupts that Hans also complained on the heat upon his unexpected return. The party rushes to locate Hans and find him in the office, his large hands wrapped tightly around Anne's neck. Truscott leaps onto Han's back and pries him off of her as Brooks enters the office. The two struggle with Hans as Anne lies motionless on the professor's desk. Finally Brooks stabs Hans with a letter opener and he collapses.

    In the lab Brooks orders an airstrike of firebombs to be dropped on the observatory, in the hope that the thick concrete structure will resist the intense heat. The party begins constructing improvised malatov cocktails as the mist begins to gather outside. The hideous aliens can be seen outside creeping slowly up the rocky slope toward the observatory.

    The professor calls Brooks to the video console as the aliens make their appearance. Brooks grabs one of the molotov cocktails and steps outside. Launching it at one of the creatures as it sheiks in a high pitched unearthly tone. Truscott follows suit and is grabbed from above by an alien tentacle. As he dangles above the ground Brooks launches another of the homemade incendiaries up toward the roof of the observatory. Truscott falls to the ground and the creature retreats with a piercing wail. Brooks and Truscott rush inside and seal the door.

    As the creatures freeze the cameras, rendering them blind, the UN airstike arrives and contacts the observatory for instructions.

    Sarah tends her still unconscious sister in the office as one of the creatures lurks outside the heavy wall. Behind them the wall begins to crack from the intense cold and a door sized chunk of concrete falls inward revealing the creature outside, tentacles waving trough the opening, grasping for Sarah and Anne. Brooks rushes in at the commotion, heedless of the danger in an attempt to rescue them from the clutches of the alien and is caught by a tentacle. Truscott follows ushering Sarah and Anne to the relative safety of the main lab as Brooks struggles. Truscott rushes to the lab and returns with another maltov cocktail which he hurls through the opening and Brooks frees himself from its grasp. They hasten to the lab and close the door.

    Hugo (uncredited role), another of the professors assistants, monitors the communications station and alerts Brooks to the approach of the fighter plane. He instructs the pilot to bomb the cloud covering the observatory.

    Overhead, "Jolly Rodger" squares his fighter plane up for his first pass and begins dropping his fire bombs. They frame the building in flames as they strike the roof and surround the building. The aliens shriek and lash about with their tentacles. He returns for a second pass and the creatures are engulfed in flame, blackening and crisping. The wailing subsides as the creatures perish in the flames.

    The building's once pristine exterior is piled with the blackened remains of the immense alien bodies, smoking in ruin, but still distinct enough in form to provide Alan Brooks and Professor Crevett with the validation of their theory. Disaster averted the townfolk have been saved from gruesome death and the Earth from alien invasion.

    The steel window shutter slides up, permitting sunlight into the lab once again, the smoking husk of an alien poised on the roof above it. From inside the lab the view of The Trollenberg is once again visible. Anne and Truscott scamper out the steel door together as if, suddenly relieved of the terror they have found a romantic interest in each other, as Brooks and Sarah remark in jest on whether Anne will be safe in his company. The sky is clear and the party rejoices. Crevett observes that for the first time in three years, The Trollenberg is free of clouds, and Brooks expresses his hope that it stays that way.

    The Trollenberg stands majestically in the background...

    The closing credits role.

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