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Neanderthal Man, The

Entry updated 6 February 2023. Tagged: Film.

US film (1953). Global Productions, Inc. Produced by Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen. Directed by Ewald André Dupont (credited as E A Dupont). Written by Wisberg and Pollexfen from their original story. Cast includes Richard Crane, Beverly Garland, Doris Merrick (Ruth Marshall), Tandra Quinn (credited as Jeanette Quinn), Robert Shayne and Joy Terry (Jan Groves). 78 minutes. Black and white.

Professor Clifford Groves (Shayne), an expert on prehistoric life, has developed the curious Evolution-related theory that on the basis of skull size and brain capacity – rashly taken as a measure of Intelligence – Neanderthals were equal or superior to Homo sapiens. His theory is roundly rejected by the Naturalists' Society, sending the Professor on a quest to prove he is correct. Developing a serum which somehow triggers physical Devolution, he tests it on a house Cat, which turns into a sabre-toothed tiger and escapes. He next injects his housekeeper Celia (Quinn), who becomes a cave-woman whom he locks away in his basement. Dr Ross Harkness (Crane) arrives to investigate reports of the huge cat and eventually shoots the animal, which reverts to its normal state in death. At about the same time Professor Groves injects himself with the serum, turning him into a primitive, shaggy and very violent Neanderthal man. A second house cat which he has changed into a sabre-toothed tiger escapes like the first. Rather than exhibiting superior intelligence, Groves predictably goes on a rampage, killing several campers and park rangers and assaulting waitress Nola Mason (Garland) before ironically dying from wounds inflicted by the second prehistoric tiger. This minor Horror in SF film was the first screen credit for Garland, who went on to appear in a number of better genre efforts in the 1950s. The film bears some similarities to the Jack Arnold film Monster on the Campus (1958), but is decidedly inferior. [GSt]


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