Trog (1970)

It is said Bette Davis commented that if she had found herself starring in “Trog,” she’d commit suicide. Alas, poor Joan Crawford, who obviously felt she couldn’t be fussy if she wanted the work, descended to this cut-rate, Herman Cohen-produced monster movie. Ironically released in the States by Warner Brothers (on the bottom half of a double-bill with “The Torture Garden”), the studio for which Ms Crawford made several of her hits including “Mildred Pierce”, the only scary thing about “Trog” is the sight of a once-glamorous, legendary leading lady schlepping around in a lab coat (she plays an anthropologist), obviously tipsy as she slurs inane lines like “Trog lives on a diet of fish and lishardsh.” Let’s face it: under the circumstances, you’d drink, too.

Trog is cutesy for troglodyte: a primitive missing-link cave-dweller portrayed by a burly actor in an Alley Oop-like caveman get-up and an over-the-head, dime-store Halloween mask. Discovered by a hunky and shirtless, albeit unfortunate, team of spelunking college students, Trog is captured and put under the observation of Dr Brockton (Joan).

The true villain of this piece is Michael Gough (also slumming it), a representative of the opposing townspeople who, in a public confrontation with Joan, causes her to explode in a moment of impassioned fury. Regrettably, she does not give Gough her trademark slap in the face.

Trog eventually escapes to wreak some customary monster-movie havoc and Joan hunts him down with her “hypo-gun” across the bleak fields of the northern English countryside and down into his cavern, dressed in a smartly tailored tan jacket, slacks and boots ensemble.

Hollywood Royalty? Joan tries to maintain her dignity and poise despite having to deliver lines like, “Put the child down, Trog!” and occasionally looking a little woozy. This sad swan song to a long, brilliant career, amid the preposterous mise en scene, gives “Trog” the feeling of a tragi-comedy. Like one of her memorable screen characters, the real Joan Crawford endeavors to be strong and, ultimately, to triumph against all odds.