Archive for June, 2011

THE URANIUM CAFE MATINEE: THE MONSTER WALKS

Posted in Matinee on June 30, 2011 by Bill Courtney

NOTE: Well here is a category I did not expect to relaunch here at the new Uranium Café. After various debacles with Youtube and Google Video I had sworn off dealing with videos from those places but I am surprised at how many feature films one can find now with a little searching. As I just said after losing about 150 full length movies and over a hundred trailers when Google Video ceased and then had my Youtube account disable by Google for some copyright issues (showing trailers!) I just decided to give up on that aspect of the blog. But after monkeying around in another Youtube site I have –but have not doen anything with in over a year- I began seeing that Youtube now is showing lots of full length films and many are free. Whose going to pay $2.99 to see a movie stream on Youtube? I am also going to research what other films I can find at places like The Internet Archive and who knows where for now. I think I will try my best to keep Matinee features tied into recent posts here and so for this 1st feature I present the recently reviewed The Monster Walks. Enjoy the unexpected return of The Uranium Café Matinee.

ONE MORE NOTE:  I just found The Monster Walks over at The Internet Archive and decided to use anything else other than Youtube unless there is no choice. The streaming is faster at Internet Archive. The Player looks cooler. It is more of an esoteric community and I really just hate Youtube anymore. I was surprised to see my Google Video collection were still working (except for the ones that were blocked by, I assume, the new masters at Youtube. I am monitoring this and if they are still working in a month or so I will be getting what I left of my full length film collection there up but I don’t have much hope.

 
SEE THE MONSTER WALKS HERE >>

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf
THE MONSTER WALKS

THE BRAIN EATERS/1958

Posted in AIP, American Horror, Bruno VeSota, Ed Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Science Fiction-Fantasy on June 29, 2011 by Bill Courtney

THE BRAIN EATERS

1958/Director: Bruno VeSota/ Writer: Gordon Urquhart

Cast: Ed Nelson (also producer), Leonard Nimoy, Alan Frost, Joanna Lee, Jody Fair, David Hughes, Robert Ball, Greigh Phillips, Orville Sherman   

This not a film to write home about in any sense of the word, but at a mere sixty minutes and featuring an early performance by Leonard Nimoy (billed as Leonard Nemoy) it is not a total waste of time. Produced by and starring Ed Nelson and directed by Bruno VeSota (the sexually frustrated fat guy in Attack of the Giant Leeches) and so based on The Puppet Master by Robert A. Heinlein  that AIP was sued. Roger Corman settled the deal out of court for $5000 and the promise that Heinlein receive no credit for “inspiring” Gordon Urqhart’s lifeless screenplay. But as I said, the film is not really that bad that it cannot be seen and enjoyed.

The story moves along and is aided by often campy and unnecessary narration. For example in one scene we are told that the heros are visiting the local telegraph station, but there is not need to inform us of this since we can see with own two eyes that they are doing this. But it adds for some laughs, though I assume unintended ones. The residents of peaceful Riverdale Illinois have recently been plagued by violent murders and now must contend with the appearance a huge alien craft that has either come from space or the bowels of the Earth. The mystery is compounded when a scientist believed long lost reappears from the craft after some fifty years. Some of the town’s folk have fallen prey to small parasitic organisms that look like little “tribles” (as in Star Trek) with pipe cleaners for antennae that attach to the base of their necks and control their thoughts and actions. Scientist Paul Kettering (Ed Nelsen) is hot on the mystery and even journeys into the alien craft seeking answers, with are not forthcoming. A lot of the action winds up being fist fights or gun battles between the infected and uninfected, or verbal sparring between everyone and the cantankerous Senator Powers (Cornelius Keefe, billed as Jack Hill and so it is not director Jack Hill in an early acting role as is often thought). On a return trip inside the ship Kettering finds another long lost scientist, Professor Cole under total control of the alien creatures and  who is played by Leonard Nimoy, but you would not know if not for the voice. The action ends with high voltage wires frying the little brain eaters to death and the hero dying to save the girl.
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The movie has potential with the material but does not do too much with it. What have been better is if the people under the control of the creatures were not so apparent. Some act like zombies practically. It would have had more tension had the cast and audience not known who was and was not  infected, like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing. I would also say a little more violence would have helped, as well as more frightening creatures. To the film’s credit it does not go over board with scientific explanations and long dialogs as is typical of a lot of films of the period. The movie takes itself seriously and the laughs are unintentional, which can make for a good time. The movie poster is one of my favorites, but here is nothing in the entire film like it. There is no woman with vampire fangs and exposed brain, or hordes people fleeing some monster. In fact the monsters are little fuzz balls that a horde of fleeing people would squash. Can I recommend the film? Sure. It is required cult film viewing in fact, and as I said it is only about an hour in length, about the same time you would spend at the dentist’s getting a cleaning.

THE SHE-CREATURE/1956/EDWARD L. CAHN

Posted in AIP, American Horror, Edward L. Cahn, Marla English, Paul Blaisdell on June 27, 2011 by Bill Courtney

THE SHE-CREATURE

1956/ Director: Edward L. Cahn/Writer: Lou Rusoff
Cast: Chester Morris, Marla English, Tom Conway, Cathy Downs, Lance Fuller, Ron Randell, Frieda Inescort
The She-Creature is a film that attempted to capitalize on the past life regression fad that swept America in the mid-50’s following the release of the book, and subsequent film, The Search for Bridey Murphy. The book is based on the real-life events (I tend to find most of these “factual” paranormal events are actually more apocryphal than actual) pertaining to a party where hypnotist Morey Bernstein was the entertainment and hypnotized a lady named Virginia Tighe who regressed into her past lives to a time when she was an Irish woman named Bridey Murphy. She would speak in an Irish accent as she recalled her 19th century life. Luckily all these people who have past life regressions seem to select a past life that has the same spoken language I guess and who can’t mimic an Irish brogue. Despite the reincarnation claims of Virginia Tighe being devastated by skeptics the book went on to be a huge best-seller and, along with the 1956 movie, people flocked to the story, and some still believe it to be true, and soon everyone and their cousin were seeking a “qualified” hypnotist to induce a past-life experience. Probably during none of these experiences did the person speak a dead or extinct language like Aramaic or Hopi. Yes, while your humble archivist of B-movie madness watches everything from giant bugs to possessed school girls he is at heart a skeptic and does not believe in UFOs or past life regressions. All that being said, I really enjoyed this film, made in 1956 like the Bridey Murphey movie, thanks to my uncanny abilities of “suspension of disbelief.”

The movie is directed by Edward L. Cahn who also happens to be the director of some of the most memorable horror/exploitation B-movies from the 50’s and early 60’s. Some of these are certainly some of my favorites, such as Dragstrip Girl, Voodoo Woman (with Marla English), Zombies of Mura Tau, Invasion of the Saucer Men and It! The terror from Beyond Space, just to name a few films made by this prolific and imaginative director. There are a few minor complaints I have about some parts of The She-Creature such as the excessive day for nights of the beach scenes. They are simply too dark and you cannot really see the faces of the characters or even the monster. As well the monster hardly appears on screen, as is often the case with films from this period. More time is spent with the human conflicts (which are needed of course to a degree) and not enough is spent on the monster itself. And while the monster is a little cheezy I like it, even its monsterish “boobs.” The creature, nicknamed “Cuddles” was designed by Paul Blaisdell do also did the monsters for creatures for Invasion of the Saucer Men and the legendary creatures from It Conquered the World. She-Creatures originally ran as an AIP double feature with It Conquered the World and what a matinee or midnight movie treat that must have been.
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In the film we find one Dr. Lambardi (played by Chester Morris perennial tough guy from the 30’s and 40’s and even more than few silent films) engaged in similar experiments as Morey Bernstein. He has under his Svengali type spell the lovely Andrea Talbot (the very endowed Marla English who switches costumes between a sexy sheer gown and an assortment of skin tight sweaters) who, similar to Virginia Tighe, regresses back in time 300 years as an Irish housewife. Andrea hates Talbot but cannot escape from his hypnotic powers. His powers are of interests to others as well. First there is the shrewd entrepreneur Timothy Chappel played by Tom Conway. At first I thought this was actor George Sanders as it looks and sounds almost identical. Come to find out Conway and Sanders are brothers. Chappel sees big bucks in marketing not only Lombardi’s past life regression angle but the fact he can predict murders in the future, murders perpetrated by a prehistoric ancestors of the human race that is revived when Andrea is in her hypnotic trance. The murders draw the interest of police detective Ed James (Ron Randall) is 100% certain Lombardi is somehow responsible for the rash of murders that have been occurring on the beach in close proximity to wherever Lombardi is located but he doe not have enough evidence to make it all stick in a court of law. Also interested in Lombardi’s experiments is his critic Dr. Ted Erikson (Lance Fuller who would appear with Marla English again in Cahn directed, Blaisdell monstered Voodoo Woman in 1957) who thinks Lombardi is a charlatan who is giving “scientific” hypnotism a bad name. As well Ted really seems drawn to Andrea and her clingy sweaters and wants to free her from Lombardi’s mesmerizing clutches. As is often the case with horror/sci-fi films of the period there are heated debates between men of science and men of faith. The scientists are portrayed as the stereotyped hard-headed dogmatists who refuse to even believe their own eyes at times. Dr. Erikson is skeptical of Lombardi and his motives but is open minded, However he is a true man of science and this is confirmed by a scene where he walks around smoking a pipe in his laboratory in a white lab coat with Clark Kent type eye glasses and a clip board where he records the activities of various lab animals.

There are usually problems with beach horror movies and I assume one reason the beach location is used is for budget purposes. The one big problem is how many people can be really be killed off on a stretch of beach maybe a couple yards long by some slow moving monster or another before it is at least seen by someone and a police sketch created? We also have the obligatory “making out” teenagers in the car killed off by the monster, and love-tortured teenagers are still being killed off on lover’s lanes to this day by monsters and psychos. The best scenes of the movie are between Lomabrdi and Andrea and Lombardi and Erikson as the two men compete for Andre’s mind and soul. There are a few cocktail party sequences featuring El Brendel and Flo Bert as a butler and maid team that is meant as intentional comic relief. There are no big surprises in the film or its ending but it is watchable classic B-horror fare. There is a list of beach horror movies I am trying to find, including The Horror of Party Beach and The Monster of Piedras Blancas. Despite the problems with beach horror movies they one of favorite sub-genres and there quite a few made during the sixties. For any fan of The Creature from the Black Lagoon styled films. A loose remake of The She-Creature was made by the Cinemax Creature Features series 2001 but it has little to do with the original version but I can recommend it as well.

ASTRO ZOMBIES/1968/TED V. MIKELS

Posted in American Horror, Exploitation, John Carradine, Mad Doctors and Scientists, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Ted V. Mikels, Tura Satana, Wendell Corey on June 25, 2011 by Bill Courtney
ASTRO ZOMBIES

1968/Director: Ted V. Mikels/Writers: Ted V. Mikels, Wayne Rogers

Cast: Wendell Corey, John Carradine, Tom Pace, Joan Patrick, Tura Satana, Rafael Campos, Joe Hoover

I have to admit that I have been on a real super B-movie or Z-grade film roll for a long while. God knows I watch more of this stuff lately than I can keep up with as far as posting goes. I may soon be shifting gears for a couple posts and do some posts on some other films I have seen lately, like Mr. Majestyk with Charles Bronson, or the Getaway with Steve McQueen or a Japanese film like Woman of the Dunes or Onibaba. Of course I simply love this old B-movies and love writing about them and promoting them. And few Z-grade films have a more special place for me than Ted V. Mikels’ bewildering The Astro-Zombies (sometimes listed as simply Astro Zombies. The poster art says Astro Zombies or Astro-Zombies-with hyphen- while the opening credits say The Astro-Zombies and most searches actually turn up a song by Glenn Danzig’s Misfits). I picked this up long ago on VHS and saw it a couple times and really knew little about it other than who John Carradine and Tura Satana were. I will have to admit that this film is not fort everyone, but I love it. Yes, there is tons of padding and wasted opportunities. I feel Tura Satana is not used on screen enough and John Carradine is fun as yet another mad scientist but spends too much time tweaking equipment and babbling pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo to his mute and imbecilic henchman and not enough time really being insane and misguided. But the film is fun and the dialog is priceless I have a couple samples below for your listening pleasure. The dialog is all the more an oddity because the script was co-written by Wayne Rogers, Trapper John from TV’s M*A*S*H. Roger’s was also co-producer and a lot of the property used in the film belonged to him. The film is torn to shreds usually in sites online that I always thought were supposed to pander this stuff. It is a bad film and going into the movie with that knowledge will not make it any better. If you are not a fan of really bad cinema then steer clear. But if you are the type who love seeing greasy haired, stooped over henchmen torment tied up girls in bikinis for no explainable reason, or monsters that consist of phony looking rubber masks with no expression and all of it topped off with the zaniest dialog ever then you will enjoy the time wasted with this grimy jewel. Ted V. Mikels is still alive and working and  I read on his website that is actually planning an Astro-Zombies “part III”, to follow the 2002 straight to DVD release Mark of the Astro-Zombies, which starred Tura Satana. This will not be the only film Mikels film to be featured here at the Café. Coming eventually: The Doll Squad (again with Tura Satana, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, and The Corpse Grinders. You have been warned.

The film starts off with a day for night scene of a woman driving a sweet looking white Ford Mustang convertible with historically relevant shots of the dashboard. She parks her car in a suburban house and soon is attacked and killed by an Astro-Zombie. There was some special reason she was singled out and murdered but I forget that reason right now. You always know an Astro-Zombie is about to attack because of the loud, strange music that announced his arrival. Now you may well be wondering what the hell an Astro-Zombie is exactly. Well simply because I have seen this film about six times does not mean I understand anything about it okay. One professor DeMarco (a mad scientist played by the king of mad scientists John Carradine) was recently dismissed from NASA because of his Astro-Zombie. Seems he could not discriminate between the body of an air force officer and a cadaver and was let go from the team. That will usually do it. The basic idea seems to be that the Astro-Zombie would actually someday be a type of cyborg astronaut that could be controlled by radio wave transmissions from the ground. Why this is necessary is never explained. DeMarco of course now works in secret with his mute, imbecilic and hunched over associate Franchot (William Bagdad who played in a couple other Mikels’ features) and his visions of what the Astro-Zombie can ultimately accomplish has increased in grandeur since he got canned from his cushy job. He now imagines that all the knowledge of the words great minds can be assembled into some sort of computer chip type device and implanted onto the Astro-Zombie and this will be of great assistance to the astronaut while in orbit. Franchot has the miserable task of harvesting body parts for DeMarco’s experiments and at the beginning of the film he seen gathering parts following a car accident. Luckily he must have standing by the shoulder of the isolated stretch of road just as the car plunged over into the ravine below. When Franchot is not busy with this grisly task he is either listening to DeMarco’s convoluted scientific ramblings, watching DeMArco tweak circuit boards for minutes at a time or pursuing his own private experiments on bound up bikini girls.
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A group of men associated with DeMarco and his former experiments at NASA have began to worry that the recent wave of mutilation murders around LA may be connected to DeMarco. The team is headed by Dr. Holman (played by character actor Wendell Corey who was now ill and battling the late state alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver from which he would soon die). Brought to assist in the undercover type operation is Eric Porter (Tom Pace from the Girl in the Golden Boots) is one of those sort of handsome guys of the time who can’t really act even when given a good script and believable lines and overacts at being either charming or tough. The office room dialog between Holman, Porter and the other guys is simply great. I am going to try and rip some dialog samples and post those at the bottom if they are successful. Well things are even more complex than they seem already because DeMarco and his secrets are being sought by dragon lady Satana (played by Tura Satana, the tough talkin’ gal who immortalized the Russ Meyer character Varla in Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!) who is a spy from an unnamed country. Her switchblade welding heavy is Juan (Rafael Campos) who also happens to be an electronics genius.

There are some dealing with a underworld people with Russian accents that go askew and a couple guys get stabbed and ran over. Later lascivious Satana is lying on the sofa, smoking from a cigarette holder in her slit gown that all oriental spies wear around the house, listening to the tapes made by DeMarco about his Astro-Zombie experiments. For some reason I cannot fully recall some CIA guys had a hunch that earlier some shady dealing were going to go down at a shady nightclub. They manage to let the Russian spies get killed off without noticing but later wind up at Satana’s hideout in the suburbs and wind up getting caught, tortured and killed off themselves. In one great scene Satana puts out a cigarette on the CIA guy’s face. Too bad there were not more scenes like this of Tura Satana acting evil and merciless. Later a cute lab assistant is killed by an Astro-Zombie back at the space center I guess. Security must be lax.  We know the girl is going to die because she is too sweet and volunteers to take the shift for her college Joan (Janine Norwalk) so she can out with lover boy Tom. We also know when she will die because the loud Astro-Zombie approached music begins seconds before the girl has her blouse ripped off and then repeatedly stabbed. The death scenes in Mikels’ films are not usually too brutal and the sex stuff is played down. He never made a nudie as far as I am aware of. The death scene here is a little more over the top than is typical but still not gory by any stretch. Probably not suitable for Mormons.

There is plenty of padding in the film. Long stretches of film shot in the laboratory with nothing much happening other than noisy blood transfusions and Franchot conducting his experiments on some poor, struggling girl in a gold bikini. We never find out what these experiments are but in one scene Franchot is holding what looks like old radio transistors and smiles perversely as the camera cut back and forth between him looking at the transistor and the girl tied to the lab table. Sadly we never discover what he does with the transistor but I bet there were some discomfort involved. In a sequence that happens in films more often than I find credible Tom Pace (who I now figure is some sort of cop) figures that the Astro-Zombie was actually trying to return to the lab to murder Joan and killed the other girl by mistake and will probably return and asks Joan to be a decoy. She is not a trained policewoman nor is she given a gun but she seems to agree that this is the best way to trap the beast and goes along with the plan. The Astro-Zombie is a tricky devil and never shows up but instead suddenly appears, with blaring music, in Joan’s bedroom while she is in her slip. Tom is outside monkeying with the circuit breaker but manages to chase off the Astro-Zombie. During the conflict the Astro-Zombie’s solar cell is knocked off and in desperate need of power grabs a flashlight and sticks it in the little hole on his forehead.

Juan has figured out where DeMarco’s hideout in the suburbs is by analyzing transmissions to and from the Astro-Zombie and the cops figure it out some other. Needless to say everyone winds up at Demarco’s place at the same time. I should make clear that there are two, yes two, Astro-Zombies. The one that is running around killing everyone is the one that received the brain of a deranged criminal so you have to expect that sort of thing. The other Astro-Zombie is still being put together but once he is completed he will be the physically, intellectually and morally superior human that all Frankenstein type mad scientist long to create. Of they always screw up the first prototype by putting a blasted deranged criminal’s brain into the body! 

Of course fast thinking Tom decides it would be a good idea to bring Joan to the place where the murderous monster is kept and then just leave her alone waiting in the back yard, telling her to just wait and not move. Satana and her gang arrive first and in a pretty unequal knife fight Juan kills Franchot. He himself is later shot when he runs out into the open firing his pistol like James Cagney at the cops. DeMarco suddenly decides he must destroy the evil Astro-Zombie and Satana off him. She winds up dying along the Astro-Zombie in some power box hanging on the wall. And that about wraps it up except for the heroes all standing together at the end and saying some lines about DeMarco not understanding human emotions. The closing sequence is made is the same as the opening and I think is pretty cool. Little toy robots walk around the haze made by one of those old smoke bombs you got at the 4th of July and the soundtrack is some interesting though dissonant noise. But why take my word for any of this when you can see the entire film here at the Uranium Café Matinee. Certainly one of my favorite Grade-Z films. I may poke some fun at it but I enjoy this film and appreciate Mikels’ energy and enthusiasm. Like Ed Wood Jr. he just wanted to make movies and often invested everything he had into getting the things made and distributed. He usually did the production, direction, editing and camera work. Okay, he may not be Orson Welles, but this is great stuff.

AL ADAMSON’S DRACULA vs FRANKENSTEIN: AUDIO SAMPLES

Posted in Al Adamson, Audio Samples on June 24, 2011 by Bill Courtney

Here are four audio samples from Al Adamson’s cheese classic Dracula vs. Frankenstein. This is something I want to continue doing even though it can be a lot of work and I am not even sure if anybody even listens to these. I know I like to hear these types of things on other sites so I will assume at least a few readers out there will feel the same way. These samples are simply great and stand alone as testaments to bad writing and bad acting even if you do not see what is going on.

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf
“YOU WERE IN ANOTHER WORLD”
http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf
“DO YOU KNOW ANYONE NAMED RICO?”
http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf
“SHE USED TO HAVE FANTISIES ABOUT BEING A FREAK.”
http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf
“THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC ANSWER TO ANYTHING.”

THE URANIUM CAFE PODCAST: EPISODE 01

Posted in Podcast on June 23, 2011 by Bill Courtney

This post marks the return of The Uranium Cafe Podcast but there is not much going on here other than testing out some technical issues with my audio hosting service and getting relaxed with my recording software again. Some problems with the microphone but I know how to fix that and I simply forgot to wrap some thing around the mic. One day need to spurge for a reasonably priced condenser mic. Not just for this podcast stuff which is not really all that urgent to have impeccable audio but for some of of my music recording where it is a little more urgent. Again, just a test here. I did keep the episode at exactly ten minutes which is my goal. Ten to no more than fifteen minutes. Movie talk next time. This time you get to hear me screw up a simple phrase of Mandarin. Hopefully all of this is going to work out.

http://ia700600.us.archive.org/8/items/swf-player/player.swf

THE URANIUM CAFE PODCAST: EPISODE 01

DOWNLOAD AND/OR EMBED PODCAST HERE

TROG/1970 /FREDDIE FRANCIS /JOAN CRAWFORD/MICHAEL GOUGH

Posted in British Horror, Freddie Francis, Gorillas-Yetis-Bigfoot, Herman Cohen, Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Robert Hutton on June 23, 2011 by Bill Courtney
TROG

1970 /Director: Freddie Francis/Writers: Peter Bryan, John Gilling

Cast: Joan Crawford,  Michael Gough, Bernard Kay, Kim Braden, David Griffin, Robert Hutton   

Now here is a film that is really beaten nearly to death in reviews over the net and while it deserves some degree of flagellation it is not the total waste of time most people make it out to be. There is some degree, albeit half-hearted, talent involved with the project and while the movies suffers from an over serious attitude often found in British low budget films it is nonetheless worth a watch. At least if you the type who can watch and enjoy other films that producer Herman Cohen produced while he still lived and worked the US such as I was a Teenage Werewolf and I was a Teenage Frankenstein. In fact 1970’s Trog was originally slated to be called I was a Teenage Caveman. Appearing in the film is a regular of Cohen’s other British horror films (Horrors of the Black Museum, Konga, Berserk and The Black Zoo) the manically over the top and hammy Michael Gough. Leading the cast in her swan song film role is Oscar winner Joan Crawford who had all but slipped into 60’s style B movie oblivion after 1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. While a lot of her films during this time are derided I thought a couple, like Straight Jacket and Cohen’s Berserk, were pretty good “psychotronic” fare. Off screen Joan was not only downing copious amounts of vodka but more than her fare share of Pepsi as well. In fact, everyone on the set was drinking Pepsi since Joan had become a member of Pepsi’s board of directors and I managed to find a couple amusing shots of Joan sharing a cold bottle of the soft drink with Trog himself. The last piece of talent involved is none other than seasoned Hammer actor, cinematographer and director Freddie Francis (Dracula Has risen from the Grave, the Evil of Frankentstein). Surely Trog will not be remembered as the nadir of any these people’s careers but I found it a fair watch. I may be slightly biased here as Trog holds some sentimental value for me. I saw the film a couple times back when it was first released in San Antonio Texas (Joan Crawford’s city of birth) at the Lackland Air Force base matinee for all of .35 cents. Some young friends and I had a good time reinacting some of the scenes later.

To enjoy the film one must first enjoy the guilty pleasure of the classic man in an ape suit adventure. This can run the gamut from the irritatingly comical Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (irritating because of the obnoxious Martin & Lewis rip off duo of Duke Mitchell and Sonny Petrello, review coming eventually) to Planet of the Apes (the original of course) and even Stanley Kubrick’s opening sequence to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Speaking of 2001 the mask used for Trog is part of a custom used by one of the prehistoric men in Kubrick’s classic. But they literally only used the mask and it is obvious as there is a ape like head with wild and wooly hair planted onto pos a place skinned, hairless guy (Joe Cornelius). Actually Trog does not look too bad and is a step up from previous men in suit apes. He even has some facial expression and lip movement that was lacking in the 1968’s Planet of the Apes masks.
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Trog opens up the credits appearing over a trio of college buddies exploring the English country side looking for caves to explore. They stubble upon a cave that does not appear on any of their maps and excitedly prepare to be the first to explore it. The interiors of the cave, though unrealistically well light, look like something from a Hammer Film of the period, no doubt Freddie Francis’ influence. The lads find an underground spring and showing absolute lack of good judgment decide to swim under the cave wall to see where it leads. Well, it leads to a chamber where a troglodyte exists. It never really explains why he is still alive or how he managed to survive in cave other than he may have been frozen solid and thawed out recently but he is not happy and kills one of the students and drives the other to a near nervous breakdown. The spelunking student who opted to lag behind  Malcom Travers (David Griffith) takes his friend to the Brockton Research Center located, fortunately, right down the road. And if that weren’t lucky enough the Center’s area of research just happens to be anthropology. It is headed by Dr. Brockton, of course, who is played by Joan Crawford who simply never seems to look like a brilliant anthropologist. She is fascinated by Malcom’s story and suspects the creature he describes may just happen be to a prehistoric missing link, the kind anthropologists and evolutionary scientists have bben searching the world over for, and by golly there is one in a cave a short drive from her research center. She goes to the cave with Malcom and appears in its depth in a goofy looking white leisure suit, the same place the three spelunkers arrived at using by crawling and shimmying along in the dark. She aims her camera into a dark niche and on her first shot captures a great picture of what appears to be a troglodyte about to hurl a massive rock in her direction.

Soon the news spreads and the community, led by Dr. Brockton, is at the entrance of the cave in quest of Trog. It is not long before Trog is out of the underground river and killing scuba divers and idiotic cameramen who feel they do not have to use their zoom lens but rather should walk within a foot or two of this raging beast to get a good shot. Dr. Brockton soon immobilizes the pissed off caveman with her hypo gun and he is taken back to the institute, much under the angry criticism of local land developer Sam Murdoch (Michael Gough) who sees the troglodyte as a threat to his investment plans. Who wants a cozy country cottage next door to an ape beast who has already killed a student, a scuba diver and two newsmen. And I have to be honest I sort of see his point. Dr. Brockton must all these lost lives as collateral damage in the big scheme of things and soon she is having Trog play with dolls and toy trains in her research center where he happily gulps down rubber looking lizards for snacks. She is soon joined by scientists from around the world in her quest to establish that Trog must be kept alive. Among the imminent researchers and doctors who support Brockton is the American surgeon Dr. Richard Warren (played by The Slime People’s Robert Hutton) who does something that allows Trog to voice simple and mostly incoherent sounds. All of this worthwhile research is being carried on the in the shadow of town hearings to determine whether or not Trog is a threat to the community or not. The hearings get a little too “lofty” as Brockton, the voice of scientific reasons, squares off against Murdoch the voice of prejudice and religious superstition and sound real estate planning.

Things almost turn against Trog when he kills a German Shepard dog that just wanted play ball with Trog and Dr Brockton, but ultimately the hearings favor letting the murderous caveman remain alive and run around the grounds of the Brockton institute with only Dr Brockton and her young assistants to watch over him. Sam Murdoch has had it and one night breaks into the laboratory holding Trog (after waylaying a night guard with a crow bar of course) and soon is taunting him and throwing objects at him and finally releasing him from his cage. Bad idea, since a minute or two later Trog kills Murdoch and escapes into the local countryside and into the local town where he runs amok for a few minutes. During that time he turns over a car and causes it to immediately burst into flames, throws a produce stand clerk through a plate glass window and hangs the neighboring butcher on a meat hook. The towns folk panic and run through the streets and at one point even run past a Pepsi stand. Again, this is at the behest of Ms. Crawford who wanted product placement for the soft drink in most of her latter films.

Trog grabs some little girl and seeks shelter in a nearby cave though I am not sure if it is the same cave he was discovered in. The British army show up in force and though Dr. Brockton is able to coax the child away from Trog the general sentiment is one of “enough is enough” and the soldiers descend into the cave and amazingly miss Trog at point blank range for a few machine gun clips until finally he is hit and falls and impales himself on a stalagmite. The film is not really too violent except for the meat hook part and even that is pretty tame. Crawford was reputedly unhappy with the results and after viewing the movie claimed she may have committed suicide had it not been for her conversion to the Christian Science religion. Instead she stayed home and became a reclusive “Mommie Dearest” until her death in 1977. She would stop drinking in her last couple years because of her commitment to Christian Science. Michael Gough is great playing the snobbish aristocrat he typically plays but his scenes are pretty sparse. Movies here at the Cafe are not Oscar winners and this is not a movie for people who cannot tolerate bad cinema. It is certainly a bad and cheezy flick but it is well shot and no way a total waste of time. The story has been done before in most all the gorilla movies and the only thing really missing the beauty to further give sympathy to the beast and make its inevitable death at the hands of the military more heart rending. I assure you no will cry when Trog gets blasted at the end and what does that ultimately say about us as a species? That would be another high brow ethical debate for Dr. Brockton and Sam Murdoch had Trog not killed Murdoch.