Trog (1970)

Trog makes me sad. Beyond the fact that it feels a lot like King Kong or Son of Kong — a doomed monster from our past just can’t survive in today’s horrible modern world — it’s also depressing at times to watch Joan Crawford act her heart out in a film where no one else can come close to her power.

That’s not to say this is a bad film. It’s perfectly enjoyable and well directed by genre vet Freddie Francis (Tales from the Crypt and plenty of other wonderful Amicus portmanteau films). And it’s a quick moving, interesting film.

But it’s still sad.

A troglodyte (TROG!) is found alive in the caves of England. Dr. Brockton (Crawford) has some success commmunicating with him and sees him as the missing link. However, her neighbors are not fans of her having a monster in her house, particularly after it kills a dog when it steals his ball.

Local businessman Sam Murdock (Michael Gough, who appeared in plenty of Hammer films, as well as Alfred in the 80’s and 90’s Batman films) worries that the creature will negatively impact local business. But really, he has an issue with a woman being in charge.

Meanwhile, Trog goes through multiple surgeries which enable him to learn how to communicate and there’s a trippy sequence where we see into his mind, which is filled with memories of the Ice Age and dinosaurs.

The court upholds Dr. Brockton’s goal of teaching Trog, so Murdock sneaks in and lets him loose. He kills several people, including the businessman, before taking a little girl and retreating to his cave. Dr. Brockton is able to communicate with Trog and the girl goes free. Meanwhile, soldiers open fire on our titular caveperson and he falls to his death, impaled on a stalagmite.

As Dr. Brockton leaves in tears, a reporter tries to interview her. She has no comment as she wander away.

See? Depressing.

Due to the films low budget, Crawford used her own clothes. And it shows. She’s a beacon of fashion in a grimy town. She stands out like no one else. And speaking of suits, the one for Trog was left over from 2001: A Space Odyssey!

This was Crawford’s final film, but don’t believe the TV show Feud: Bettte and Joan. She’d continue to act afterward, appearing in an epsiode of TV’s The Sixth Sense called Dear Joan: We’re Going to Scare You to Death. If you’ve ever listened to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, that’s where the sample on the song “A Daisy Chain for Satan Comes From.” PS – I would know none of this were it not for Bill from Groovy Doom.

I’m glad I watched Trog. But the sad ending — and thinking of Joan changing in her car during the breaks in filming — make me a little misty eyed. That said, it’s one of John Waters’ favorite films, so there’s that.

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