Plot: A simple expedition to explore caves in English countryside isn’t expected to yield fantastic results, but three young science students manage to stumble onto a cave that no one else has ventured into. The cave holds some beautiful locales, but also a danger the group couldn’t have anticipated, as a troglodyte lurks inside. One student is killed, but the others manage to escape and word of the troglodyte lures Dr. Brockton (Joan Crawford) to the cave. She is curious to learn about this incredible discovery, but she is a considerate and compassionate scientist, unlike most of her peers. Brockton is able to tranquilize and capture the troglodyte, whom she nicknames Trog. This allows her to study Trog up close and she is convinced that he can be brought into modern life, despite the cries of her fellow scientists who see Trog as a savage beast, not a precursor to all of mankind. But is Trog capable of the same emotions and social presence as humans, or is Brockton letting her heart overrule her brain?
Entertainment Value: This was the final movie role for screen legend Joan Crawford, but even in a low rent b movie like Trog, she radiates star power and turns in a terrific performance. As a fan of schlock I am likely biased, but I think Trog deserves more credit that it is often given. The movie is pure b movie cheese, a movie with a minuscule budget and hokey special effects, but it is presented as so sincere, the already ridiculous premise turns into madness. The narrative is straight forward and tries to add some depth by examining how science treats Trog, which of course falls flat, but at least the effort was made. After a kinetic start, the movie settles into a moral debate over Trog’s treatment and then rolls into the wild b movie realm toward the finale. I doubt many would defend Trog as a well crafted, masterful piece of cinema, but it is immense fun and Crawford proves she can make any role work, regardless of the goofiness that might be unfolding around her. So for fans of b movies, Joan Crawford, or oddball cinema in general, Trog is well worth a spin.
Thanks to the presence of Joan Crawford, Trog will likely always have a steady flow of interested viewers, even among those who don’t appreciate b movies of this kind. As this was also her final role, a lot of movie fans tend to be overly harsh toward Trog, as if the movie should be punished for claiming her last performance. Despite the low budget and hokey elements, Crawford refused to phone in her performance and is fantastic here, able to turn in a sincere and effective effort. Her serious, skilled performance makes the movie even more ridiculous, as you have this one performer going for broke, while no one else really even seems interested. So even if you hate the movie, you have to admire Crawford’s dedication, as she takes the role seriously and brings her full skills to the table, while most wouldn’t even bother. David Warbeck also has a fun role here, while Michael Gough, Robert Hutton, and Bernard Kay also appear. But make no mistake, Crawford outshines the rest of the cast, even though she found the material beneath her talents.