I just always tear up when I see a researcher-and-her-troglodyte movie. Trog (1970) pulls out the old favorite “frozen caveman” theory about a troglodyte (missing link) who’s been frozen in a cave during a past Ice Age. Now, he’s thawed out and ready to party.
As I started watching it the other day I realized it had a strong sense of familiarity to me. So, then I did a little research.
First off, IMDb gives it a whopping 3.3 out of 10 rating, so we’re most likely heading into Bad Movie country. Mixed feelings here, however, as it was her last feature film appearance. True, she was in Beyond the Water’s Edge, a 1972 made-for-TV movie (this was the era of TV-movies, most airing at prime-time and running about an hour-and-a-half. They ran the range from good (Trilogy of Terror) to really, really bad (Seven in Darkness)), and an episode of The Sixth Sense, also in ’72. But, for Ms. Crawford, the powerhouse roles had dried up. Also, there’s a nostalgic feeling for me as I feel certain I saw it at some point back then on late-night TV.
Watching it now, the soundtrack positively oozes made-for-TV. And the effects — pure cheese. Especially when three young explorers go caving. The stalactites were ridiculously cheap. They looked like the props department got hold of one of those “Magic Crystals” kits and grew a batch, then glued them to the roof of the “cave”.
Our first view of Trog, our troglodyte, looks like a bad Halloween costume. In fact, I can probably get a better outfit at Halloween express. He’s got long hair, and sort of an elongated, grayish face, which is odd as the rest of his body is a different skin tone. He apparently has a built-in sense of fashion decorum as he wears the cliched fur underwear.
Cool. Joan’s got a gun now. Just tranquilizer darts, but she’s the only one with a cool head and taking charge of the situation when Trog emerges from the cave and starts tossing the news crew around.
This is a truly odd mix of our cast making a strong effort to turn in good performances, bad effects, and terrible writing. Ms. Crawford does her best to play her part convincingly, but the script is just, well… hideous. There was one scene where I saw a little of the old Joan intensity, but she never really cut loose.
A wide assortment of cave-people/missing link movies popped of from the early 60′s through the 80′s were the troglodyte years as we had the song Troglodyte by the Jimmy Castor Bunch, plus numerous cave-people movies. 1966 gave us One Million Years B.C. and before that we had Richard Kiel in a pre-Jaws role as Eegah in Eegah (1962). Then we jump ahead to Caveman (1981) and Iceman (1984). Iceman tried to take the concept seriously, but it’s a little difficult to hold strongly onto the refrigerated cave dude idea for very long. Tends to melt under closer inspection.
But, back to Trog. This is a moderately fun bad movie, especially when we get to see Ms. Crawford’s character attempt to civilize her new friend — playing classical music for him, tossing a ball to him, etc. I haven’t watched far enough into it to find out when he’s shaving and getting his driver’s license, so if those scenes aren’t in there, they really need to be.
So, as our troglodyte friend would say, “Ugh…ugh!”
’til next time… Adios.