Admittedly, your Aunt John has a relatively high tolerance for sub-par films, especially if the movie features an Oscar winning actress at the end stage of a long career, forced to work overseas with a heinous script opposite children, animals, or monsters. Honestly, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a train-wreck of a movie, and in theory, I should have fallen crazy in love with director FREDDIE FRANCIS’ infamous dud TROG, but sometimes even I have my limits.
Featuring silver screen legend JOAN CRAWFORD in her last cinematic outing, TROG kicks off with a trio of strapping spelunkers who stumble ass backwards over a pre-historic creature living in subterranean solitude somewhere in the English countryside. The misunderstood monster attacks, the townspeople get all in a tizzy, and an angry mob gathers. Enter respected anthropologist Dr. Braxton (CRAWFORD), who clearly wears the pantsuit in this hamlet. She basically swoops in with her tranquilizer gun, pumps the poorly made-up monster with sleepy-time darts, and then drags it back to her eponymous lab for further study.
Back at lab, CRAWFORD reminds us how she won that Oscar for MILDRED PIERCE by busting out her trademark, put upon reaction shots followed by bursts of volatile explosiveness when anyone crosses her. Weathering the brunt of hurricane JOAN is the titular Trog, who seems more terrified of CRAWFORD throughout the film than she is of him.
Aside from her occasional howls, CRAWFORD brings little else to the table. The film is set in England, and she can’t even muster up the energy to do a British accent. And it’s not like it is explained that she is some sort of ex-pat working abroad, for nothing in this movie is even remotely plausible. MICHAEL GOUGH tries to bring friction as the religious yin to CRAWFORD’s scientific yang, but even he seems a tad relieved to be done with the film when Trog dispatches with him. The film just meanders along, cutting and pasting a poorly made pastiche of the most boring elements of THE MIRACLE WORKER, INHERIT THE WIND, and FRANKENSTEIN.
Okay, I take it back about the FRANKENSTEIN scenes where Trog escapes the lab and runs amok in the town flipping cars, murdering shopkeepers, terrorizing small children, and kidnapping a small girl. This montage is straight up hysterical! Sadly, it all comes a little too late to compensate for the insufferable courtroom drama sub-plot where JOAN takes the stand to defend science against religion. If the director had left that hot mess on the cutting room floor, and ramped up the scenes of the beast man going berserk, TROG could have been a B-movie classic instead of pitiful end note to CRAWFORD‘s cinematic legacy.