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Film / The Brute Man

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The Brute Man is a 1946 horror/suspense film about a deformed man seeking out revenge. It stars Rondo Hatton and was directed by Jean Yarbrough.

Hal Moffett was a football player in college who was trying to woo his best friend-slash-roommate's girlfriend. In lighthearted retaliation, said friend deliberately gives Hal the wrong answers in a study session so he earns detention in Chemistry class. Hal's temper makes him cause a lab accident that ends in caustic chemicals going off in his face; he survives, but it warps him in both face and mind, and he soon vanishes.

Years later, the city is in terror of a mysterious serial killer known as "The Brute Man Creeper". While on the run from the police, the Creeper — Hal — stumbles upon a blind piano teacher who shows kindness to him and (unwittingly) shelters him from his pursuers. Now, on top of revenge, Hal is determined to help his new friend — Creeper-style.


Meanwhile, the police doggedly pass the buck to avoid bad publicity and political interference during their pursuit of the Creeper.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.

The film is a sequel to The Pearl of Death and House of Horrors, but this film gives The Creeper an origin story.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Anticlimax: Oh you were expecting some kind of confrontation between Hal and Helen!? Nope, he goes zero to Creep in 3 seconds and almost strangles her with her back turned before the cops stop him, without so much as a word. And now let's end it with a joke instead!
  • Artistic License – Law: The police pursuing Hal at the beginning effectively force their way into Helen's apartment, fail to identify themselves, and search through it without a warrant. As Servo notes, "Oh, this is so legal!"
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  • Ax-Crazy: According to the Back Story, Hal was a Jerk Jock in college. The chemicals not only disfigured him, but also drove him insane, too.
  • Blind and the Beast: Hal's appearance frightens all he encounters, until he runs into the blind Helen. She insists that she can see who he really is inside, and that he's simply misunderstood. Subverted when she learns that he really is a killer, and she is the key in finally stopping him.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: On a meta level, Fred Coby, who plays the pre-accident Hal Moffett, bears a strong resemblance to a pre-acromegaly Rondo Hatton.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: If the delivery boy hadn't stayed behind to get a look at Hal through a window (and thus been seen), he wouldn't have been killed.
  • Deus ex Machina: The commissioner suddenly telling Helen that she could probably afford the surgery sure feels like one. And though considering how desperate the mayor's office was to stop the Creeper's reign of terror, and it's entirely possible they offered a reward for assisting in his capture — instant blindness cure!
  • Freudian Slip: After the police commissioner chews him out to distract the city representatives, Police Lieutenant Gates says that he'll pass the buc—the word to the rest of the department.
  • Groin Attack: When Hal breaks into Clifford's home and threatens him and Virginia to get money for Helen's operation, Clifford eventually responds by firing multiple shots — apparently right into Hal's "area".
    Crow (as Hal): "Honey, my face is as big as ever and someone shot my sizzler off."
  • Immune to Bullets: Hal gets shot several times, yet appears fine in many scenes afterwards. At no point was it stated the accident gave Hal superhuman powers, it just deformed him.
  • Jerkass: Just about everyone.
    • Hal himself, a Jerk Jock blaming everyone but himself for his temper causing his change (plus being the Creeper and all). He also treats Joan, who is obviously crazy about him, like dirt. Then he murders her despite her having nothing whatsoever to do with Hal getting disfigured.
    • Clifford, for giving his roommate/friend Hal bogus chemistry advice just to screw him out of a date.
    • Virginia, who went with Clifford to walk past the lab in which Hal had to stay after class, just to mock him after Clifford screwed him out of the date Clifford was on with her that very moment.
    • The store keeper, who apparently openly hates his sole employee.
      Storekeeper: Creeper! Creeper! Creeper! You give me the creeps!
    • The apathetic police who don't seem to care much about the case or the murders.
    • Helen, though, is nice. And look where it gets her — new eyes! For free!
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Right after Hal is caught, Lt Gates starts hitting on Helen.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Hal's attempt to help Helen is what ultimately gets him caught - because he stole the goods he wanted Helen to sell to pay for the operation, and Helen didn't know how to safely fence hot jewelry, the police are finally given a lead on how to find the Creeper.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: A fugitive breaks into a blind woman's apartment to hide. He asks her for help, saying that "some men" are after him. She hears a knock on the door and tells him to hide in another room. When she opens the door, three men barge into her home without even identifying themselves as police officers (although two were wearing uniforms, they didn't try to show her a badge or even offer any explanation), and she tells them that she didn't see anyone. The leader then orders his men to look in the woman's bedroom (with no search warrant, no explanation offered to the woman), but the fugitive escapes through a window. Later in the film, the police arrest her for harboring a criminal, but she claims innocence because she didn't know he was a criminal and didn't know the officers were policemen since they didn't even identify themselves.
  • Totally Radical: Dorothy, the little girl learning to play piano. She wants to play boogie-woogie because it's "really solid" and it "sends" her.