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  Brute Man, The Jeepers CreepersBuy this film here.
Year: 1946
Director: Jean Yarbrough
Stars: Rondo Hatton, Jane Adams, Tom Neal, Donald McBride, Jan Wiley, Peter Whitney, Fred Coby, Janelle Johnson Dolenz
Genre: Horror
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: A new threat to the city - a string of murders committed by a man only known as the Creeper, who breaks his victims' backs. The Creeper is actually Hal Moffet (Rondo Hatton), a disfigured psychopath who wanders the streets at night. Now the police are searching for him after he has killed a wealthy socialite, and Moffet is trapped in a dark alley, so he climbs the nearest fire escape and through an open window. The apartment he ends up in belongs to Helen (Jane Adams), a blind piano teacher who is surprised but not alarmed to discover the fugitive in her home. Moffet is also surprised - finally he has met someone who is not afraid of his misshapen face, but will this stop his killing spree?

Written by George Bricker and M. Coates Webster from Dwight V. Babcock's story, The Brute Man was made by Universal Studios, but they sold it on to B-movie specialists P.R.C. when they became ashamed of it. Why? Because it exploited the disease of its star, Hatton, a man suffering from acromegaly, which caused his bones to grow to outsized proportions. It didn't help that Hatton had died of the condition before the film could be released, either. Hatton had originally gained a sort of fame (or perhaps notoriety) from the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Pearl of Death, playing the Creeper (presumably a different Creeper), which he had followed with House of Horrors, where he played, er, The Creeper.

The Brute Man was then last in the loosely connected Creeper series. With his huge face and hands, barrel chest and too-wide shoulders, Hatton was never going to be a romantic lead, but he does find love of a sort with the blind girl, making this film seem even more pathetic than it does initially. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover" doesn't apply here, as the Creeper is as morally deformed as he is physically. He's bumping off the people he blames for his unfortunate predicament, which we are told in flashback, is due to his short temper.

Potential victim Clifford (Tom Neal) relates a tale of Moffet's college days, where he was a star of the football field, but the rival in love for Clifford's girlfriend. When Clifford gave him the wrong answers for a chemistry test to hinder him, Moffet was kept behind after class to catch up, and in his frustration, he smashed a bottle of acid, which exploded and maimed him. Now he's out for revenge, but also killing anyone who remotely annoys him, such as a nosy delivery boy, or a pawnbroker who won't let him walk away with a brooch.

While you have no sympathy for the Creeper, you can't help but feel sorry for Hatton. In one scene, he stands at the window of a coffee shop, but walks away when the customers start staring at him in horror. In another, he smashes a mirror rather than suffer seeing his own reflection. Crude these scenes may be, and the rasping-voiced Hatton is terrible in a role tailor made for him, but they have a pathos that goes beyond the poor plotting. The main point of interest in The Brute Man is it's tragic leading man, which makes the film little better than a freak show, although to look on the bright side, you could say that even someone with Rondo's appearance could become a movie star. Also featuring possibly the greatest number of sensational newspaper headlines in the shortest time.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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