"If I wasn't a Christian Scientist and I saw "Trog" on a marquee, I would seriously contemplate committing
Cast: Joan Crawford~Michael Gough~Bernard Kay~Kim Braden~David Griffin~John Hamill~Thorley~Walters~Jack May~Geoffrey Case~Robert
Hutton~Simon Lack~David Warbeck~Chloe Franks~Maurice Good~Joe Cornelius.
Director: Freddie Francis
Producer: Herman Cohen
Box Office Figures for "Trog":
Top Grossing Film Position: Ranked #85
Gross Rentals: $618,700
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Reviewer, Simon Davis, says...
Review: "Trog", that infamous little British film that became the last film in the illustrious career of film legend
Joan Crawford has gone done into cinematic history as one of the biggest and most embarrassing "monster", movies
ever to be made. Joan Crawford of course is still sadly fair game for any type of attack on both professional and private
fronts and "Trog", is a favourite target by her many detractors. Harsh summaries of this minor 1970 production run
to the fact that Crawford was supposedly drunk all the way through production, that it had one of the lowest budgets of any
horror film made in England and that it made Crawford totally unemployable after its release, thus becoming the sad final
note in a brilliant career. Certainly no masterpiece, "Trog", despite a number of highly laughable moments is far
from the worst horror film ever made and for Joan Crawford's as always totally committed performance, despite the material
she has to work with, is well worth seeing. It marked the second time in two years that movie offers from producer Herman
Cohen had brought Joan Crawford to England for filming, (Berserk! in 1968 being the other), and she fitted in excellently
with the often gifted British performers who appeared in both films in supporting roles, such as veteran Hammer Studios villain
Michael Gough, Diana Dors and Robert Hardy. Despite comments to the contrary Joan Crawford not only looks wonderful in "Trog",
but is also well and truly in control of her character and still exudes that incredible star power that carried her through
five highly successful decades of film work. Joan almost single handidly makes "Trog", far more entertaining viewing
than it probably deserves to be considering its "B" movie status.
Crawford plays Anthropologist Dr. Brockton who works at a rural research centre in England and is involved in the study
of early man's development from the Apes. While hiking in the neighbouring moors some local students discover a fisher has
opened up and climbing down to investigate they disturb a very primitive form of life in the caves who is half man, half prehistoric
ape. The creature kills one of the boys and drives one of the others into hysteria. Recuperating at the clinic after their
ordeal the incident arouses the interest of Dr. Brockton who with the help of her assistant Malcolm goes back to investigate
the caves and manages to photograph the creature which she now believes could be the missing link. However Dr. Brockton faces
opposition from a wary public and in particular a hostile reaction from local resident Sam Murdock (Michael Gough) who advocates
destroying the creature before it causes trouble. Aroused from its liar by a camera crew the troglodite, or cave dweller comes
to the surface and Dr. Brockton succeeds in tranquilising the creature long enough to get it safely back to the lab. The resulting
publicity arouses the further anger of Sam Murdock who decides to take matters into his own hands by releasing Trog from his
cage with fatal consequences to himself. Trog then proceeds to go on a rampage in the local town, and ends up abducting a
small child from a playground and taking her back to the caves. Now bent on the creatures destruction the police close in
and against their orders Dr. Brockton climbs down into the cavern and manages to get Trog to hand over the child. However
Trog's fate is sealed and a final showdown with the police in the cave ends tragically for both Trog and Dr. Brockton's hopes
of understanding more about this possible missing link.
"B" movie nonsense perhaps but there are far worse stories that have been turned into horror stories. I get
constantly amazed that people zero in on Trog's poor costume when the countless "Rubber Suited" men passing as monsters
in the 1950's Sci-Fi efforts aren't even mentioned. "Trog", despite being such a small production boasts very worthy
credits in direction by skilled Hammer horror veteran Freddie Francis and a writing team that includes Peter Bryan and John
Gilling who was also a most capable director of horror with the celebrated "Plague of the Zombies", and my favourite
"The Reptile", to his credit. "Trog", certainly has a number of laughable moments that never fail to amuse
me. The real standout for me is Dr. Brockton's absurb "orientation" program (played with great sincerity by Joan
Crawford), involving Trog playing with wind up dolls and the long flashback sequence where through the wonders of technology
Trog can see back to the dinosaur age. No reason is ever given for why these experiments on Trog are such breakthrough measures
and especially funny is when all the "World Scientific Authorities", gather and marvel about Trog's progress uttering
words like "amazing!" or "marvellous!" when looking at this pathetic creature strapped to an operating
table. I get a big chuckle out of one of these "World Scientific Authorities", who is played by British actress
Golda Casimir who was last seen playing the Bearded Lady in the freak show in Joan's earlier horror effort "Berserk!"!!
Talk about not allowing yourself to become type cast! That aside I do find the film an enjoyable horror outing. Actor Joe
Cornelius who played Trog undoubtedly created a memorable creature (perhaps for the wrong reasons!) and Joan Crawford brings
a seriousness and determination to her role as the crusading doctor that belies the films "B" status. Even when
delivering lines like the infamous "Trog! Please Trog, GIVE me the Child!", or the equally hilarious "Yes Anne
darling, never show fear towards him, only trust", (after Trog has just murdered two men!) you can see that Joan is still
giving her usual 150% to her performance. Certainly don't go into viewing "Trog", expecting a "Mildred Pierce",
or even a "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", but the film is not the total disgrace it is always made out to be
either. Joan has a great chemistry with Michael Gough as the two chief adversaries in the story and the location photography
on the Moors and at the stately home (now a Conference Centre) that passes for the Brockton Research Lab is first rate. Crawford's
last scene in the movie which of course became her last moments on the cinematic screen after a 50 year career, is to me quite
symbolic in that it shows Joan walking away sadly with her back to the camera just as her very first cinematic effort way
back in 1925 had her photographed with her back to the camera doubling for Norma Shearer in "Lady of the Night".
It is in a way a fitting final moment on screen for Joan Crawford, one of Hollywood's most enduring and underrated talents.
Laughed at by the critics and now a "cult" favourite with those that like camp movies "Trog", is definitely
worth a look and should be in the collection of all Joan Crawford fans. It saddens me to see Joan Crawford still highly attractive
and capable reduced to appearing in such efforts however that is more a criticism of the Hollywood system that misuses maturing
talent than of any career choice made by Joan herself at this time. No great cinema art, "Trog", as the last film
in Joan Crawford's career has it's own curiosity value and no collection of her work is complete without this infamous little
horror effort. Enjoy!