Greene Screene: Trog

Now Showing on The Greene Screene: Trog (1970)

Oh, Trog.

You’re such a slog

My head’s a fog

So much to unclog

Oh, Trog

You could’ve been so prog(ressive)

But why’d you kill that dog?

Joan Crawford just wanted a snog

Oh, Trog

You could’ve made a good blog

We could’ve played pog

But you reminded me of a certain demagogue

Why is Trog part of the Criterion collection? Why is Trog part of a “horror series that collects some of the grimiest, goriest and most inventive nightmares from the decade that revolutionized the genre”?

Some mysteries of science will forever remain unclear. Directed by Freddie Francis (David Lynch’s cinematographers du jour for The Straight Story, Dune and Elephant Man; he also photographed Glory, Cape Fear and many more), Trog stars Joan Crawford, the Tim Burton/Joel Schumaker Alfred (Michael Gough) and may or may not star a leftover ape suit from 2001.

When a couple of young British student scientists discover a long-lost caveman who could be the missing link of human evolution, super-anthropologist Joan Crawford and her daughter teach it how to play with dolls, balls and put on scarves. They bring a collection of the world’s finest scientists together to study Trog, to unlock his capacity for speech by showing him a five minute claymation dinosaur sequence that would make Ray Harryhausen weep. You know, classic science stuff.

The discovery of Trog unsurprisingly incites a left vs. right debate spearheaded by Alfred’s Sam Murdock (oh how I wish it was spelled with an H to hammer home these heavy-handed parallels even further), who is your classic bible-thumping, science-hating man worries that Trog will hurt the real estate prices in their small village and demands that the troglodyte be destroyed. When Murdock doesn’t get his way, he takes matters into his own hands, and in so doing, creates the very monster he always believed Trog to be. Why, Trog, why?

If we’ve learned anything over the past several years, it’s that the world is full of Trogs. Half-men, half-apes that don’t like loud music, steal small children and have extreme capacity for violence. But just like our titular Trog, deep within lies the capacity for love and compassion, they just don’t know how to show it. They just haven’t had Joan Crawford to teach them how to play with dolls. Or at least that’s what I have to believe to sleep at night. Because if I don’t, if I lose hope…

If we give up on Trog, we’re in for one nasty epilogue.

A writer when his cat allows, located in beautiful downtown Burbank, CA.

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