Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trog (1970)

One of the stranger factoids about ’70s cinema is that Hollywood legend Joan Crawford made her final big-screen appearance in a terrible UK-made monster movie. Yes, the iconic actress who won an Oscar for Mildred Pierce (1945) concluded her storied career by costarring with a stuntman wearing one of the silliest creature costumes ever committed to celluloid, and she was denied the option of milking her scenes for camp humor. Trog, which concerns a prehistoric troglodyte who runs amok in modern England after being freed from centuries of imprisonment in underground ice, is played straight—even though the title character’s ensemble consists of furry boots, a loincloth, and an absurd monkey mask that looks less like artistic movie makeup and more like the battered treads of a worn-out tire. Watching Crawford interact with this embarrassing excuse for a monster is stupefying, especially when Crawford plays such ridiculous moments as teaching “Trog” to play fetch. Had this picture been made by some grade-Z American company with insufficient funds, one could have excused the inanity of the content as a casualty of compromised circumstances. Alas, Trog was made by a proper British film company, with decent production values and professional lighting. Therefore, the mind reels trying to imagine how the crew of Trog made it through each day of shooting burdened with the sure knowledge they were manufacturing crap. The film’s story is hackneyed in the extreme—after spelunkers discover Trog in his cave, an anthropologist (Crawford) sedates Trog and takes him to her lab, where she studies the creature whom she believes to be the missing link. Meanwhile, an angry local official (Michael Gough) campaigns to get Trog destroyed. (Because, of course, the world’s scientific community would tolerate the murder of a one-of-a-kind beast easily restrained behind bars.) The rest of the story unfolds by rote, at least for anyone who’s ever seen a monster movie—Trog reveals sensitivity, escapes under dubious circumstances, lashes out in fear, and becomes the target of a manhunt. Through it all, Crawford delivers her stilted lines with earnest severity, sporting an unnatural color of blonde hair and a series of monochromatic pantsuits and schmatas. Her look is only slightly more flattering than that sported by the title character.

Trog: LAME

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

A prominent memory of my early childhood is of visiting elderly relatives and being put in front of the TV while the adults talked about whatever incomprehensibly boring stuff they talked about. This movie came on. I was utterly terrified by the visage of that nightmarish creature! I couldn't get away from the TV fast enough, back to the safety of the grown-ups.

And Trog himself was pretty scary too.