28 October 2014

Towering New Terror

There are some great classic horror flicks that are lurking around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, especially if you know where to look. Take, for example, this figure lurking behind a camera reel and a bottle of potion tucked away on an upper shelf of Villains in Vogue. The movie is titled as The Brute Man, but the hulking creature is the Creeper.

Released in 1946, The Brute Man was actually completed in 1945 and told the tale of how the Creeper came to be and about the couple he blamed for his disfigurement. In fact, The Brute Man was actually a prequel to House of Horrors. Both films were filmed in 1945 and released in 1946, but House of Horrors was released in March while The Brute Man would be seen on the screen until October of that year. The filmed starred Rondo Hatton, Jan Wiley, and Tom Neal.

Rondo Hatton is the star of the pictures, the Creeper. In The Brute Man, the Creeper was a popular football star named Hal who was competing for the affections of Virginia (Jan Wiley) with Clifford (Tom Neal). After being set up to fail an exam, and being taunted by Clifford, Hal smashes equipment in the chemistry lab and sets off a chemical explosion that gives him acromegaly, a syndrome that creates enlarged cheek and jaw bones, a bulging forehead, and facial lines that are broader. Told through flashback, the rest of the silver screen feature follows Hal, now known as the Creeper, seeking to find a normal life, but time and time again using his brute strength to murder people in the town that he believes have wronged him one way or another.

In real life, Rondo Hatton was also a football star who became afflicted with acromegaly. Unlike The Brute Man, however, Hatton’s syndrome came from a gas attack while he was serving in the army during World War I. The acromegaly eventually claimed the life of Hatton in February of 1946, just after The Brute Man and House of Horrors had completed filming. Universal, who had produced the films, felt that releasing the B flick would look as if they had exploited Hatton’s disease and sold the rights to Producers Releasing Corporation instead.

The Brute Man was developed from a short story by Dwight V. Babcock, England created the rating of “H” for Horror just for this film, and it would be utilized for an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1996. Not bad for a cheaply produced prequel that was considered to be lost for several decades! Villains in Vogue’s spooky theater lobby, covered in cobwebs and B-movie horror goodness, is the perfect place to scare up some entertainment ideas for this week!

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