Trog (1970, 1hr 33 mins.)
This film was Joan Crawford’s last before she disappeared into a reclusive life. From what I know, this famous actress had quite a turbulent life, and was said to be a bit of a pill, seasoned with good old-fashioned booze. I’m not here to judge the lady, since life can be a shit show a lot of the time, but for her last film, Trog is definitely going into this pixie’s lovablely stinky files.
Crawford plays the verbose Dr. Brockton, a learned anthropologist who is tending to a hiker that has been traumatized. You see, Cliff (John Hamill) had been exploring a cave with his two colleagues and happened upon a caveman. A real live caveman who beats the living crap out of one hiker and scares the bejesus out of Cliff. The good doctor is intrigued by what terrified Cliff, and wants to get the jump on the local police to find this animal, this thing that had “That face…those eyes!” When she does find her troglodyte or trog, she is determined to study him for the good of all mankind. It just takes like, three shots from a tranquilizer gun to nab Trog (Joe Cornelius) after he kicks the crap out of a film crew documenting the discovery and surrounding officials. Clearly, Trog just wants to be left alone in his dark, damp cave. Don’t we all? But despite major opposition from the police, a local rabble-rouser named Murdock (Michael Gough) and her disgruntled colleague Dr. Selbourne (Jack May), Dr. Brockton carries on her research. She teaches Trog how to be a kinder, gentler caveman by playing with dolls and learning colours, fueled by a strict diet of “fish and lizards”, which incidentally, will the be name of my psychedelic 70’s rock band. She makes some decent headway with Trog, as he undergoes surgery to help him talk. He also trips out with some solid dinosaur memories that I will describe later in the Favourite Scene section.
Unfortunately, the rabble-rouser Murdock feels differently and still thinks Trog is a murderer. He sets Trog free, and provokes him to go berserk; undoing all of Dr. Brockton’s hard work. He is the only Trog in the village, so it’s easy to figure out who opens a can of caveman whoop-ass by throwing the green grocer through his shop window and hanging the butcher on his own meat hook. Then he takes a kid, who he thinks is a doll. From here on in, things don’t bode well for our caveman friend, and well, you can probably guess the outcome.
So, a few things come to mind after watching Trog. First off, just wondering if the makers of this film had heard of editing. The opening scene of the cave exploring hikers was painfully long. And remember when I described Dr. Brockton as verbose? I wasn’t kidding. I totally see the point of the film with the whole science vs. nature vs. ignorant townsfolk and society at large, but the speechifying was a bit much. “Blah, blah, blah,…blah, blah, blah…the missing link!” How about editing the script too? Joan Crawford gave a decent, if somewhat hammy performance, but Cornelius who played Trog, really trogged out man. What a blast to run around in furry shoes and a loincloth grunting and kicking ass!! Where do I sign up?!!
I am certainly not going to hate too hard on this cheesy, melodramatic sci-fi gem, and I’m glad I was able to get it through the folks at Suspect Video. It was a tad too long, but definitely worth a watch, if only for Trog beating everyone to a pulp and his trip down memory lane.
Most Memorable Line and Favourite Scene: This, for me, is the surgery/memory jogging scene. Trog is being microchipped and while he is still groggy, the scientists do some weird surgery to help him talk. First off, they all don these Marilyn Manson worthy rubber face masks that look like fetish wear. Bet they regret eating onions for lunch that day. Trog is shown some slides of dinosaur skeletons that triggers a blue swirly and a crazy sequence that was part of a 1956 film called The Animal World. With stop-motion animation done by my fave Ray Harryhausen, it shows how dinosaurs fought, hatched from eggs, and ran from hot poopy looking lava. Of course these are all misty memories for Trog. And then…he speaks! When Dr. Brockton’s assistant and daughter Anne (Kim Braden) looks into Trog’s caveman eyes, he utters, “Anne…Red…Green…Blue…Anne.” definitely my favourite line amidst all the talking!