#32. The Brute Man

32. The Brute Man (1946) - Season 7, episode 702
"Honey? My face is as big as ever and someone shot my sizzler off!"

A guy with a big face starts murdering people.
Famous for: Having one of the most effed up storylines you are ever going to see. Oh, and also... the shopkeeper scene.


My favorite riff:  This movie has one of the funniest scenes in any MST3k episode, ever. It's the one I mentioned above, where the shopkeeper starts yelling at his stockboy for no apparent reason. His anger is SO over the top, and it comes SO completely out of nowhere, that Mike can't even say any of his lines. He just lowers his head and starts laughing. It's one of the funniest moments in MST3k history because Mike just completely loses it.  

This scene is so beloved among MST3k fans that you can even find it posted on Youtube as its own video. Hope you aren't drinking any liquids if you've never seen it before. I'm not kidding.

Mike just lowers his head and laughs because the shopkeeper is so mad

Comments:  Man, this movie is so messed up. I mean, I love it as an episode, but it's one of the most horrible things ever, the more that you know about it.

For starters, do you know who Rondo Hatton was? If you don't, he was an actor in the 40s who was known for having an exceptionally large and ugly face. And he wound up getting a lot of bad guy roles during that era just because he was so god damn ugly.

Rondo Hatton, aka "the guy with the big face."

Only, here's the catch. Rondo wasn't born ugly. When he was in high school, he was actually voted "Most Handsome." But he happened to have been born with a pituitary condition called 
acromegaly, which is the same condition that Andre the Giant once had. And if you're not familiar with acromegaly...

Acromegaly: A rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone, causing body tissues and bones to grow more quickly. Over time, this leads to abnormally large hands and feet, and a wide range of other symptoms. Acromegaly is usually diagnosed in adults aged 30 to 50, but it can affect people of any age.

Unfortunately, because of acromegaly, Rondo's face grew and morphed out of control as he got older. And that's how "most handsome teenager" Rondo Hatton eventually grew into Rondo Hatton, the scary looking movie villain.

Before acromegaly and after. Poor guy.

So here's Rondo's real-life story:

He was a handsome and popular and well-liked young man, who eventually grew up to have horrible features, because of a disease. Although at the time, nobody knew it was because of a disease. At the time, it was believed he had some taken in some mustard gas in the trenches during World War I. And the mustard gas had somehow screwed up his endocrine system. In fact, that was EXACTLY what the studio press releases at the time tended to say: Rondo was born normal. But due to an accident with mustard gas, he turned into a freak.

So here's this guy, who started normal, but who later turned into a freak. And to capitalize on his looks, let's say some studio writes a movie that basically retells his entire life story. Only this time around, they turn it into a horror movie.   

I mean, seriously, let's think about this. Let's say we're in the year 1946. And let's say there's a movie coming out (The Brute Man) about a college student who's handsome, and popular, and well-liked. But then one day a chemical accident turns him into a freak. And then, afterwards, let's say he is so shunned by society because of his looks, that he turns evil and he starts killing people. Just because of the way society turned its back on the now freaky ugly guy. Oh, and just for good measure, let's cast Rondo Hatton as the lead, because this is basically what happened to him in real life anyway. So this role should be easy.

 "Ahh, now his creeping has just turned into wandering."

And that's the thing you should always keep in mind when you are watching this movie.

Rondo Hatton isn't just playing The Brute Man in this movie. HE IS BASICALLY REENACTING THE TRAGEDY THAT HAPPENED TO HIM IN REAL LIFE. And I'm sorry, but as funny as this episode is, that's just incredibly fucked up.

"I'm gonna grow an ugly face and kill you!"

And then here comes the complicated part.

If you can get past THAT little downer of a trivia fact, and if you can get past the fact that this is actually a pretty good (yet sad) little movie, you'll find that this is actually an incredible MST3k episode. Every single time I watch it, I'm amazed at how tight and how good all the riffs are. And that's why loving this episode is so incredibly complicated for me. I don't WANT to love it, because I feel so bad for poor Rondo Hatton. I mean, those bastards made a movie out of his life. And they made everyone in the world see this poor guy as a monster. And then (oh yeah, I forgot to mention this) Rondo died before the movie came out, so he never even got a chance to live the life of a celebrity. All things considered, pretty much everything about this movie is a complete tragedy.

But then I come back to the fact that... damnit... the riffing in this episode is SO good, that I still have to love it.

"She can't hear him? She's the most inefficient blind person I've ever seen!"

Blind Girl: I knew he was in some sort of trouble, but I didn't realize it was with the police.
Crow: I thought he was pregnant.

"Grocery Boy Slain By The Creeper!" - Boss delighted!

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  None, really. Other than the fact that, unlike most MST3k movies, I actually think The Brute Man is a pretty good movie. I think you could easily sit there and watch it without all the riffing, and you would still like it. And that's why, even with all the fucked up backstory, I will always rank The Brute Man high in my list of favorite episodes. Movies that aren't that bad + movies with really solid riffing are one of those rare combinations that just don't come around all that often.

Even if poor Rondo DOES get his dick shot off, I still love it.

"God is dead? GOOD!"

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