Three potholers are investigating the English countryside when they discover a cave. Intrigued, they enter and climb down to a large cavern which contains part of an underground river; two of the men take the opportunity to dive in and see where the river leads, finding another cavern and more. A hulking, shadowy figure lurks in the darkness and the explorer who entered first has an unfortunate encounter with it. His friend stumbles across his body and terrified he shines his torch around to catch sight of a caveman: a troglodyte, in fact. This missing link is dangerous...
Trog will be forever known as fading star Joan Crawford's final film, and she was most embarrassed about it to the extent she retired from the screen since this was the best offer she was getting. Seeing it today, it's easy to understand why, although it fits in with the run of producer Herman Cohen's typical shockers that he offered the world for a three decades or so with its campy dramatics and over the top stylings. Director Freddie Francis, here as anonymous as he ever was, struggles to make Aben Kandel's adaptation of Peter Bryan and John Gilling's story convincing which is difficult considering the calibre of monkey suit he had to work with.
This is because Trog, or Joe Cornelius as the actor playing him was, wears an ape mask borrowed from 2001: A Space Odyssey but nothing else, leaving him wandering around in furry underpants and bootees to cover his dignity. High budget this is not, and it's not long before the giggles start as local scientist Crawford, as Dr Brockton, opts to adopt Trog when he is forced out of his cave home by the police. Exactly what he has been doing all the thousands of years that he's supposed to have been extinct is unclear, but he doesn't have any relatives that we see. Perhaps that subterranean air does wonders for the constitution.
Anyway, Trog is transported to Brockton's lab where he is placed in a cage and cooed over by the mumsy doctor who regards him as a valuable addition to scientific research. Others view him differently, however, as he did kill somebody after all, and the police and local land developer Sam Murdock (Michael Gough) want the creature held to account for his violent actions. As always in Cohen productions, Gough is priceless as the bad guy, venomously taking every opportunity to criticise Brockton and demand Trog be destroyed in boo hiss manner (we're supposed to be on the caveman's side). Meanwhile, the boffin and her daughter Anne (Kim Braden) encourage their charge to play with dolls, eat rubber lizards and roll balls in the grounds of the country house.
Not only that, but they hook him up to a machine during an operation to make him speak (really) and project his "memories" which turn out to be dinosaur footage from Irwin Allen's The Animal World. Yes, Trog is especially precious to Brockton, but just when you thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous, Murdock spitefully sets him loose to rampage around the vicinity for the much needed climax. During this ludicrous finale, Trog not only throws a greengrocer through his shop window, hangs a butcher on one of his own meathooks and tips a car on its side (it explodes), but kidnaps a little girl for some King Kong clichés. It's difficult to perceive quite how this was supposed to be taken seriously, but rest assured the unintentional laughter flows bountifully. If only Crawford didn't have to make speeches on "human sperm" and the like. Music by John Scott.
A much respected cinematographer for decades, British Francis made his way up from camera operator on films like The Small Back Room, Outcast of the Islands and Beat the Devil to fully fledged cinematographer on such films as Room at the Top, Sons and Lovers (for which he won his first Oscar), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and The Innocents (a masterpiece of his art).