Experiment #101: The Crawling Eye

Season 1
MST3K Story: Dr. Forrester is preparing for the week’s experiment when Dr. Erhardt rushes in, worried that he may have been followed. This upsets Dr. Forrester, as their experiment on Joel is meant to be kept a secret. When they contact him, Joel shows off his invention of an electric bagpipe, complete with renditions of Amazing Grace and Whole Lotta Love. Dr. Forrester is impressed, as it has caused Dr. Erhardt’s corneas to bleed. To counter, Dr. Forrester shows off a serum derived from the pineal gland of a dog, which, when injected into Dr. Erhardt, causes him to stop sweating (and start panting). Joel notices that the Mads have moved and is shocked to learn they are in Deep 13, far beneath Gizmonic Institute in a sub-basement. Joel says it’s incredibly radioactive down there, but the Mads “like it”. Dr. Forrester starts to make a big speech, but it’s time for the movie, so it’s cut short. After watching some of the film, the Bots are confused as to why the humans are so upset at the prospect of having their heads ripped off. Joel tries to explain, but the Bots just use it as an opportunity to play word games. Joel finds that Gypsy has uncoiled herself and her tubing is spread all over the Satellite of Love. Joel removes Gypsy’s eye and waves it around to show her what a mess she made, but it doesn’t help and she’s got an itch. Joel and the Bots try to figure out which bit is Gypsy and which is just part of the solar collector cable. After the “eye creatures” are finally seen, the Bots decide that they find Forrest Tucker more frightening, but Joel tries to explain why gigantic, free-roaming body parts are much scarier (but to little success). At the end of the movie, Joel gives the Bots answer questions for RAM chips and even Gypsy gets one, despite the fact that the best answer she can come up with to any question is “Richard Basehart”. Joel and the Bots don’t really have anything good to say about the movie, and that makes the Mads very happy.

The Crawling Eye Story:The film opens in Trollenberg, following a trio of mountain climbers, one of whom is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant. An investigator, Alan Brooks, is called in and on the way meets two sisters, Anne and Sarah Pilgrim. They are entertainers (they have a psychic act) and are traveling for Anne’s health. But Anne has an uncontrollable urge to stay in Trollenberg and so they book a room in the local hotel. Brooks, meanwhile, meets up with Professor Crevett, an old friend who contacted him due to the similarities between the Trollenberg case and a previous one they had seen in the Andes; an unusual fog that has encompassed the mountain. Anne suffers a strange seemingly psychic attack while she and her sister are performing and it seems to have some effect on the fog. When communication to the resting cabin is lost, several locals and Brooks head up the mountain. This causes Anne to have visions in her sleep that convince her she must ascend the mountain, but she is stopped by Brooks. Brett, one of the missing men, returns from the mountain, but is distracted and acts strangely. Brooks immediately suspects something, and when Brett attacks Anne, Brooks knocks him to the ground. However, no blood comes out of a wound to the head Brett suffers and he easily shakes off a sedative, trying again to kill Anne later that night. Brooks is forced to shoot him and Brett’s body disintegrates. Brooks decides to move everyone to the Observatory which is higher on the mountain, but more easily fortified against attack. This move proves timely, as the creatures invade the lodge, going after a little girl who had gone back to get a lost ball. The creatures are gigantic, tentacled, amorphous beings, each with a single, gigantic eye at their center. Brooks rescues the girl and the last of the guests and villagers escape. But one becomes infected and Anne is once again under attack, but is once again rescued. Brooks and Co. finally try to go on the offensive, attempting to use fire against the creatures, which seem to be attracted to cold. Fire bombs seem to work and Brooks is finally able to get through to the authorities, who bomb the fog cloud, killing the creatures and bringing the crisis to an end.

MST3K segments written by Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson & Josh Weinstein
MST3K segments director unknown

The Crawling Eye written by Jimmy Sangster from a story by Peter Key
The Crawling Eye directed by Quentin Lawrence
The Crawling Eye music by Stanley Black

Season 1 Regular Cast: Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (Crow T. Robot / Dr. Clayton Forrester), Josh Weinstein (Tom Servo / Dr. Laurence Erhardt), Jim Mallon (Gypsy)

MST3K Guest Cast: None

The Crawling Eye Cast: Forrest Tucker (Alan Brooks), Laurence Payne (Philip Truscott), Jennifer Jayne (Sarah Pilgrim), Janet Munro (Anne Pilgrim), Warren Mitchell (Professor Crevett), Andrew Faulds (Brett), Stuart Saunders (Dewhurst), Frederick Schiller (Mayor Klein), Colin Douglas (Hans)

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey.

Notes: This marks MST3K’s big move to cable, at this point on The Comedy Channel (predating its merger with Ha! The Comedy Network to form Comedy Central). The increased budget, though still small, is evident in the more ambitious sets and costumes. The Mads’ base, the Satellite of Love and all the Bots received complete makeovers.

Crow has changed very little from the KTMA era, having taken on his gold color and basically looking more polished (literally and figuratively).

Tom Servo is now in his definitive red color scheme and has added his hoverskirt and new arms with massive shoulders (that wouldn’t last).

Gypsy has been rebuilt completely, but still features the same basic outline of the KTMA season. She now sports a solid body mold and her trademark purple hue. This also marks Jim Mallon’s debut as the voice and puppeteer for Gypsy, taking over from Josh Weinstein. This allows all three Bots to appear on-screen at once.

Cambot has changed the most. The original design was tossed out completely and the version seen in the credits throughout the first season is simply the KTMA Gypsy with a ball in it’s mouth (I think it’s meant to be the lens) and a few extra bits on top.

The Mads have shed their “guys in lab coats” look and have begun to flesh out as characters, Dr. Forrester in green and Dr. Erhardt in classic sidekick black.

The Crawling Eye was originally released in 1959 as The Trollenberg Terror. It was a remake of a BBC television mini-series also called The Trollenberg Terror.

Forrest Tucker is best known to TV audiences as Sgt. Morgan O’Rourke from F Troop, but his career dates back to small roles in the early 1940s and continued on television and occasional film roles until his death in 1986. F Troop, as well as his many other roles in westerns, led to his receiving a “Golden Boot” award in 1983.

The striking Janet Munro would go on to star in three films for Disney; Sean Connery’s film debut, the classic Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), Third Man on the Mountain (1959) and Swiss Family Robinson (1960). She also appeared in another genre film, 1961’s The Day The Earth Caught Fire. Alcohol problems contributed to three failed marriages and the decline of her acting career. She died in 1972 of heart disease at age 38.

Laurence Payne worked primarily in television and also played the part of Truscott in the original televised Trollenberg Terror. He made three appearances on UK show Doctor Who; opposite the First Doctor in The Gunfighters, the Fourth Doctor in The Leisure Hive and the Sixth and Second Doctors in The Two Doctors.

Warren Mitchell is best known for his portrayal of bigoted Alf Garnett in the UK television show Till Death Us Do Part (the show that formed the basis of the US series All in the Family) and its sequels. Key genre appearances include spy shows The Saint and Danger Man, as well as The Avengers and Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky (1977). He appears on MST3K again in the film used in episode #111 – Moon Zero Two.

Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster’s career dates back to 1955 and includes countless genre works including many entries in the Hammer horror series, episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Wonder Woman and detective shows such as Banacek and McCloud. In 1977, he was awarded a “Golden Scroll” for his career in writing.

Peter Key’s short writing career included writing the televised Trollenberg Terror and episodes of The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Adventures of Sir Lancelot.

Director Quentin Lawrence worked steadily from his debut in 1955 until the year before his death in 1979. Key work includes Danger Man, The Avengers, Coronation Street and the original television version of The Trollenberg Terror.

Notable Riffs: “Directed by us?”
“The matte painting is calling you… Go to the window…”
“Whoever cast this movie had an eye for talent!”

The Crawling Eye was originally released in 1958, as The Trollenberg Terror