Starring: Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Bernard Kay
Director: Freddie Francis
Synopsis: Frozen fossil caveman comes to life and causes havoc in modern community
Reviewed by: Ali Khan
A group of three students exploring underground caves stumble upon an amazing discovery – a living specimen of the missing link – a part ape part human species that has somehow survived in the subterranean tunnels. The creature is known in scientific terms as a Troglodyte or Trog. Viewed with some trepidation only the eminent anthropologist Dr. Brockton believes the students enough to go off to the caves and photograph the beast. Once the find is authenticated then the BBC provides live coverage of the ‘opening ceremony’ wherein Trog is lured out of his cave and beamed into the homes of eager viewers. The story then follows a familiar route.
Dr. Brockton tames the beast to the point that it behaves like a harmless pet. However, more narrow-minded elements are bent upon destroying the scientific discovery. The law steps in to raise the tension till the inevitable tragic ending. Trog sadly is an excessively dull and long drawn out film. Numerous scenes simply meander on aimlessly. On other occasions, we are treated to watching Trog playing with a doll, Trog playing with a toy train, Trog playing with a football – all scenes meant to tug at the heartstrings of the viewer! There is even an excessively touching scene where Trog manages to talk. Everything designed to highlight the histrionics of Joan Crawford who literally chews up the scenery and film and digests it whole.
The only relatively watchable scene prior to the end is also part of an amazing sequence. Trog is hooked up to some sort of electronic machine that somehow translates his thoughts onto a small monitor. So, we see the secrets of the demise of the dinosaurs as well as few nifty dinosaur attacks and even a hatching dinosaur egg. Not sure where Trog managed to see all this considering that dinosaurs died out millions of years before man ever walked on the earth but it’s obvious where Spielberg got his inspiration for Jurassic Park from. It’s all completely ludicrous. Towards the end there are some fireworks as Trog rampages through the community while impaling a butcher on a meat hook along the way. Unfortunately, the film actually tries to take itself semi seriously and that along with the fact that it is interminably boring destroys any chance of Trog being amusing. It may be bad but it is also extremely slow. That’s where Trog misses out.
It is a surprise to see that Freddie Francis, a long-time Hammer director who directed such classics as Dracula has Risen from the Grave was in charge of Trog. Even more surprising is another Hammer connection – John Gilling who directed Hammer’s excellent Reptile as well as the highly-underrated Mummy’s Shroud (also for Hammer) was responsible for the original story for Trog. With two of Hammer’s seasoned directors associated with the project it is a surprise that such an inept product was churned out. Performance wise you can expect (and get) a grand finale from Joan Crawford in what was her last acting role. As the pioneering anthropologist, she puts in another exceptionally awful but fitting performance for the film. Her timing with Trog in particular is faultless. The only other person worth mentioning is Trog him (it) self. Constrained by somewhat rubbery features, Trog still manages to steal the show through his wonderfully emotive eyes and those expressive grunts.