Saturday, March 17, 2012

Separated at Birth 4: Luis Guzman and Trog

Okay, I know I keep saying that this isn't supposed to be an ongoing series. It really was meant to be a one-off thing, but I just keep getting hit with these strange "Separated at Birth" instances that are simply too odd to not share here. Click on the links below to see previous entries in this wacky series:

Separated at Birth

Today's example of celebrity doppelgangers has to rank right up there with Tim Tebow and Bigfoot in the oddball category. I had an opportunity to go to the movies this past week. Although there wasn't anything playing at our local theater that I had a burning desire to see I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to see something. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (2012) was one of the flicks I was considering.

I had no real desire to see it, but a friend recently gave it a surprisingly good review so I figured it was worth a shot. There aren't a lot of characters in this film, and the most notable of those who are in it are Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens (popular in the not too distant past in the "High School Musical" series) and the great (and ubiquitous) Michael Caine. Josh Hutcherson would probably have to be considered the "lead" character if not the "star", but isn't really known for much (to me at least) other than starring in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (2008)--which this movie is a semi-sequel to. These four actors are the ones featured in most of the promotional images for the movie.

But there is one more person who is part of the core group of main characters in "Journey 2"--Luis Guzman. Luis is a frequently used comic relief character actor who shows up in many roles but who generally doesn't get a lot of attention. I found it interesting that he's one of only five main characters, yet it was kind of difficult to find a photo that featured the entire cast (like the first poster above, where he's actually front and center).

Luis Guzman (on the right, in case you couldn't guess) with Michael Caine in "Journey 2"
In this movie Luis Guzman plays a typical goofy sidekick-type character, always bumbling around and spouting funny lines. While not as famous as Michael Caine or as good-looking as The Rock or Vanessa Hudgens, Mr. Guzman really stood out for me while watching the film. It wasn't because of his screen presence or undeniable magnetism or anything like that. It was just that something about him seemed strangely familiar. He seemed to remind me of someone. Once again I got this feeling that I had seen his face before somewhere--and not in one of his other movie or TV roles. It was something that just didn't seem to make sense, and that made it difficult to pinpoint. Then, as the story unfolded onscreen, I suddenly remembered where I had seen him (or at least an image similar to him) before. It was the titular character in the movie "Trog" (1970).

This movie seems to be best remembered as Joan Crawford's final role in a feature film, but I personally remember watching it as a kid on the classic Boston-area Saturday afternoon TV show Creature Double Feature. As a kid I found "Trog" to be a very effective horror movie about a caveman-type creature trapped in time until he is released upon twentieth century England. I just saw the film again a couple months ago and still like it. It may have more to do with a nostalgia for the memories of watching it as a kid then how good it actually is, but I thought it held up pretty well. And the scene where Trog attacks Michael Gough as he closes his car trunk is still a pretty effective scary moment. The scene where Trog impales the town butcher on one of his own meat hooks is still pretty disturbing to me too.

Of course Trog is a fictional character from a movie that came out over forty years ago. The actor who played him was hidden behind a mask that was even more fictional. But I still believe that there is some "missing link"--as it were--between Trog and Luis Guzman. You be the judge...


I just noticed that Luis Guzman was born in 1956. That means he would have been around 14 when "Trog" was released. While I'm sure he looked quite a bit different at 14 than he does now, just think how much the filmmakers could have saved by hiring Luis to play Trog rather than spending all that money on the prosthetic mask and make-up for the creature. Who knows, maybe remake-happy Hollywood will see this blog and decide to do a new version of "Trog"--and give Luis Guzman a well deserved starring role!

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