There have been several murders in the area.  The press has dubbed the killer “The Creeper” (Rondo Hatton).  His most recent victims were Professor Cushman (John Hamilton) and Joan Bemis (Janelle Johnson Dolenz).  After killing Joan, the Creeper is chased by police.  To escape capture he sneaks into the apartment of a blind piano teacher, Helen Paige (Jane Adams).  Helen talks to the stranger and learns that his name is Hal Moffat (Rondo Hatton).  They become friends.  When the police search the apartment building, Helen, not knowing that the police at her door and are looking for a killer, allows her new friend to escape. 

The Creeper is a disfigured man that lives by the waterfront.  When a grocery delivery boy, Jimmy (Jack Parker), starts nosing around, he ends up being the next victim.  The store owner, Mr. Haskins (Oscar O’Shea), tells police that his delivery boy never returned from delivering his last order.  Homicide Captain M. J. Donelly (Donald MacBride) assigns Lieutenant Gates (Peter Whitney) to the case.  The two men investigate the waterfront and find Jimmy’s body. 

At the Creeper’s hideout the police find newspaper clippings that refer to three students from Hampton University, Clifford Scott (Tom Neal), Virginia Rogers (Jan Wiley) and a young Hal Moffat (Fred Coby).  Donelly and Gates find Clifford Scott and find out that he and Virginia are now married.  The Scotts tell the Captain and the Lieutenant that, in their senior year, both he and Hal had a crush on Virginia. 

Clifford explains that in a pique of jealousy, Clifford gave Hal the wrong answers to a test.  The result is that Professor Cushman makes Hal stay after class to work on a complicated experiment for failing the test.  Hal has a temper so when he sees Clifford and Virginia walk by the window, he throws the beaker full of chemicals on the floor and causes and explosion.  The explosion hits Hal in the face, disfigures him and causes his mind to crack.  Now Hal is killing everyone that he feels is responsible for his accident.

“The Brute Man” was released in 1946 and was directed by Jean Yarbrough.  It is an American poverty row horror thriller.

The star of the film is Rondo Hatton.  Rondo suffered from an illness known as acromegaly.  The disease manifests itself in an excess of growth hormones from the pituitary gland that causes the bones to grow abnormally.  Rondo died before the film was released.  His condition resulted in a series of heart attacks, the last being fatal.

In a rare display of concern, Universal Pictures, who originally shot the film, sold it to Producers Releasing Corporation, a low budget production company.  It is questionable if Universal really was embarrassed about exploiting Hatton or if they were just divesting themselves from the production of “B” pictures prior to their merger with International Pictures.  Whatever the reason, Hatton ended up being a horror movie icon and developed a cult following that lasts to this day.

It isn’t a great movie, but it is Hatton’s swan song and important, at the very least for that alone, in the genre of horror.   The film received mostly negative reviews.  Most criticism was for Hatton’s performance.  Shame on them.  It’s not easy to headline in a film when you are slowly dying from a fatal disease.  Hatton may have been exploited while alive, but in death he is revered by horror fans everywhere.

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