YEAR RELEASAED: 1970
DIRECTOR: Freddie Francis
CAST: Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Bernard Kay
RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES goes underground to review Trog (1970)
There are bad films. And then… there are BAD films, films that make you question how on earth they ever got made, and indeed financed by a major Hollywood studio. Films that make you wonder how a bona-fide screen legend ended up in such a state that she willingly made it. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is one such film…
Trog (Joe Cornelius) is a Neanderthal creature, living beneath the English countryside, hidden away in a maze of caves. All is fine, until a group of potholers disturb his rest in an unconvincing looking cavern, and he pounds one of them to death with his bare hands.
After an excruciatingly talky first half-hour, Trog reaches the surface, a bad move because the daylight shows that his make-up consists solely of a face-mask with a long beard. The annoyed Trog pummels a TV cameraman with a polystyrene rock, before anthropologist Joan Crawford (yes, that Joan Crawford) tranquillises him.
Back at her lab, Crawford seeks to pacify Trog by experimenting with various stimuli. He becomes calmed by gentle music, but goes ballistic when a Jazz record is played by accident (a sentiment I can generally sympathise with). He also seems to have something of a fetish for Crawford’s neck-scarf, which he models in an unintentionally camp manner.
Meanwhile, the local villagers (headed by Michael Gough) are not happy about Trog’s presence, arguing (quite sensibly) that he has killed already, and cannot be tamed. When Crawford petitions successfully to continue her research, Gough takes matters into his own hands, thinking for some reason it might be a good idea to release Trog, thus showing him up for the murdering lunatic that he really is.
It will come as no surprise that Gough proves his theory by ending up on the receiving end, before Trog rampages through the village, bumping off a few locals and kidnapping a small girl for good measure.
You’ll shriek (with laughter) as Crawford attempts to domesticate Trog with toys and a game of “Catch” in the garden. You’ll howl as an experiment to read Trog’s mind projects stock footage from a forgotten dinosaur epic onto the screen. By the time the pathos drenched finale arrives, you’ll be rolling around on the floor, fearing your sides have split.
Freddie Francis (who really should know better) grits his teeth and valiantly attempts to direct this farrago. However, it’s likely down to his efforts that Trog is at least a watchable giggle-fest. Just make sure you’re well oiled first, which is allegedly how Crawford managed to get through the experience of making it, giving the film much more dignity than it deserved.
If you’re still not convinced of what a bad movie this is, consider this: Trog was originally to be made by Tigon, who pulled out. If Tony Tenser (of all people) didn’t think he could wring a few quid out of it, what on earth possessed Warner Brothers to think otherwise?
Joan Crawford retired from the silver screen shortly afterwards. It’s not surprising.