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Film / Trog

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Yep, that's Trog.

"Now what can you really say about a movie where Joan Crawford, dressed in an immaculate beige pantsuit, hunts through a cave shouting: "Trog! Here, Trog!" to her pet troglodyte?"

Trog is a 1970 film directed by Freddie Francis.

Three spelunkers in England find an unexplored cave. They find a stream, which they follow to a larger cavern—and then they find an ape man! The ape man kills one of the explorers and leaves the second a gibbering wreck, whom the third pulls to safety.

Cut to the Brockton Institute, where expert primatologist Dr. Brockton (Joan Crawford) treats the second spelunker, still incoherent with shock. Inspector Greenham of the local police thinks that the tale of a wild ape man in a local cave is a fraternity prank but Dr. Brockton is sure it's true. Dr. Brockton and the cops go into the cave and confirm that the ape man is very real! The good doctor shoots him with three tranquilizer darts, and after the third finally takes the ape man down, Dr. Brockton has him taken off to her research center.

Dr. Brockton sets about studying the ape man, whom she calls "Trog", short for troglodyte (cave dweller). Under her patient instruction, Trog learns basic commands and slowly begins to adjust to his environment. However, local businessman Sam Murdock (Michael Gough) hates the beast and will stop at nothing to see Trog euthanized.

Trog was the end of Joan Crawford's 45-year career in the movies, although she appeared on television a couple of times before her death in 1977. The making of it is dramatised in the FX series Feud.


  • Agent Scully: Inspector Greenham of the police, who pooh-poohs the tales of a homicidal ape man and suggests that it's really a fraternity prank.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: One of many, many fictional works to depict humans and dinosaurs as contemporaries.
  • Call-Back
    • While attempting to domesticate Trog, Dr. Brockton tosses a child's ball back and forth with Trog on the institute's grounds. Later, when Trog is stomping through the village, he's drawn to a playground where children are kicking a ball around.
    • Dr. Brockton also gives Trog a blonde-haired doll as a toy. After Trog sees a blonde-haired little girl on the playground, he carries her away.
  • Conflict Ball: To have a movie there has to be conflict, which is why Sam Murdock seems to be horrified by the very idea of Trog being kept in the village and why he is determined to have Trog put to death. There doesn't seem to be much of a reason for this; Murdock makes some noises about how Trog's presence is dangerous and he may hurt property values, but the crazed obsessiveness with which he pursues Trog's destruction is inexplicable.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Trog is clearly wincing when he comes into the sunlight—although since he's been underground for thousands of years he probably should be wincing more.
  • Dead Man Honking: Murdock has just opened his car door when Trog shows up and beats him to death. Trog finishes the job off by throwing Murdock into his car, where he hits the steering wheel and triggers the alarm. Dr. Brockton turns it off after she and the staff find him.
  • Don't Go Into the Woods: And don't go into mysterious unmapped caverns, because an ape man might jump you and beat you to death.
  • Downer Ending: Trog is killed by the local army unit. Dr. Brockton walks away from the scene in despair, her work ruined.
  • Dream Sequence: The film's running time is padded out with quite a long sequence in which an anesthetized Trog dreams of dinosaurs, using footage taken from 1956 film This Animal World.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Hilariously, a car bursts into flame without even crashing, merely from being tipped over by Trog.
  • For the Evulz: It's pretty crazy that Sam Murdock breaks into the Brockton Institute and deliberately lets Trog loose so the creature can be hunted down and killed. But before he does that, he proceeds to smash up Dr. Brockton's lab for no damn reason.
  • Frazetta Man: Trog, the ancient "missing link" caveman who has opposable thumbs and can stand upright but has a skull shaped more like an ape's and is incapable of speech. (And somehow, he's Caucasian from the neck down.)
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Cliff, who saw Trog in the cave but managed to escape, can do little but gibber about how it was "horrible, horrible." He's kept in Dr. Brockton's institute under sedation.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sam Murdock breaks into the Brockton Institute and lets Trog loose so that Trog will go on a rampage and be hunted down. And just for fun, he beans Trog on the head with a rock before opening the cage. Murdock is opening his car door just outside the walls of the Institute when Trog appears and kills him.
  • Human Popsicle: Challenged on how Trog survived underground for hundreds of thousands of years, Dr. Brockton basically shrugs and says that he must have been frozen during an ice age.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
    • When Trog is rampaging through the village, a foolish butcher tries to attack him with a cleaver. Trog kills the butcher by spiking him on one of his own meat hooks.
    • Then at the end, after Trog is filled full of lead by the army, he falls off a wall of the cave and onto a stalagmite, where he is skewered.
  • Jump Scare: The college kids in the cave are scared by a leaping animal—which turns out to be a harmless lizard. They laugh about it. Trog jumps out moments later.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Dr. Brockton directly quotes the Trope Namer when she says "Music hath charms that soothes the savage breast" after a phonograph playing gentle classical music makes Trog calm and docile. Hilariously, Trog is provoked into a cage-rattling fury after they play rock music.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Brockton is a primatologist, but she also apparently can give medical care, as she is keeping a shell-shocked Cliff in her institute.
  • One-Word Title
  • People in Rubber Suits: One of the most notorious half-assed instances ever. The filmmakers apparently acquired a gorilla head that had been used with an ape-man costume in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And that's all they got. So Trog is running around with a great shaggy head with grayish-brown skin that looks more or less caveman-ish, but from the neck down, he looks like a pasty-white 1970 Englishman.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Murdock taunts Dr. Selbourne into betraying Dr. Brockton at the court of inquiry by observing how much it must suck to have to work for a woman.
  • Product Placement: Terrified people run past a Pepsi stand, as Joan Crawford was part of the brand's board of directors.
  • Stock Footage: The dinosaur scenes were from a 1955 film The Animal World.