Day 9 of the Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge is Unseen Terror. You barely see it but it still terrifies you. This one was really rough, as I didn’t want to cover a Predator movie as that was just too simple. So I reached out to Bill from Drive-In Asylum and Groovy Doom for help. I’m using this challenge as a way to see movies I’d normally never watch, after all!
Based upon Amelia Reynolds Long’s 1930 short story “The Thought Monster”, originally published in the March 1930 issue of Weird Tales magazine, this independent British film played in the US on a double bill with The Haunted Strangler.
U. S. Air Force Interceptor Command Experimental Station No. 6 is a long-range radar installation located in the fictional town of Winthrop, Manitoba, Canada, which is a farming village that’s been plagued by unexplained deaths. It turns out that people are being killed with their brains and spinal columns being taken. The townies are up in arms, as they feel that the radiation experiments are to blame.
That leads Air Force Major Jeff Cummings starts to investigate the murders and quickly fingers Professor R. E. Walgate as a person of interest. Turns out that the Professor has been experimenting with telekinesis and thought projection for some time. That said — the radiation from the base has turned his thought projections into an entirely new life form that is attacking the locals and using them for host bodies. Of course, those bodies are mostly invisible, but also show up from time to time as moving brains with spinal columns with eyes at the end of extended eye stalks. They’re creepy as hell and led to a public uproar after its British premiere, with the public and critics angry over the films horrifying levels of gore (for the time, at least).
When this movie debuted at the Rialto Theatre in New York City, it came complete with a sidewalk exhibit of a “living and breathing Fiend” that moved and made sounds. The crowds that gathered to watch the caged Fiend created large crowds that the NYPD had to disperse.
It’s a pretty effective picture. Maybe that’s not even due to the film’s director, Arthur Crabtree. He believed that science fiction was beneath him and walked off the set at one point, with star Marshall Thompson finishing the direction of the movie.
If you like 1950’s atomic science fiction, scenes of people boarded in a room trying to hide out from pulsating brains and stop-motion blood and guys, well, this is the movie for you.