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The Brute Man is a 1946 American horror thriller film starring Rondo Hatton as the Creeper, a murderer seeking revenge against the people he holds responsible for the disfigurement of his face. Directed by Jean Yarbrough, the film features Tom Neal and Jan Wiley as a married pair of friends the Creeper blames for his deformities. Jane Adams also stars as a blind pianist for whom the Creeper tries to raise money for an operation to restore her vision.

Universal Pictures produced the film near the end of their horror film period. According to legend, as the result of its pending merger with International Pictures, Universal adopted a policy against releasing any more B movies, so sold The Brute Man for $125,000 to Poverty Row's Producers Releasing Corporation, which distributed the film without any mention of Universal's involvement in publicity or credits. In fact, Universal released at least one B-Western following the merger, and still had numerous other titles in active circulation from the preceding few years, at the time of the merger. Most experts tend to believe that Universal simply found the exploitation of the deceased Hatton and his deformity for the third time, in his last film (in which evidence of his impending demise may be foreshadowed in his acting), and of a poorly-developed story, to be detrimental to its corporate image but did not want to take a financial loss by simply shelving the film permanently.

The film was released to home video in 1982. The Brute Man received generally negative reviews, drawing particular criticism for Hatton's poor performance. The film was featured in a 1996 episode of the movie-mocking comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Members of Mystery Science Theater later expressed discomfort in making fun of the film due to Hatton's illness.


The police investigate a string of murders committed by the Creeper (Rondo Hatton), a mysterious killer with a hideously disfigured face. The Creeper attacks and murders Professor Cushman (John Hamilton), a professor from the nearby Hampton University. Later that night, the killer approaches a woman named Joan Bemis (Janelle Johnson) in front of her home and identifies himself as Hal Moffet. Joan screams hysterically at the sight of him until he is driven to kill her. When police cars approach, the Creeper climbs the fire escape of a city tenement building to escape and enters the apartment of Helen Paige (Jane Adams), a blind pianist. Unable to see the Creeper's deformed face, Helen is not afraid of the intruder, even when he admits to fleeing. When police officers knock on her door, failing to identify themselves, Helen encourages him to hide in her bedroom, where he escapes through the window.

The next day, a general store delivery boy named Jimmy (Jack Parker) listens to a radio report about the Creeper's murders. The cantankerous store owner Mr. Haskins (Oscar O'Shea) arrives with a handwritten letter slipped under the door, requesting groceries be delivered to a nearby dock. Jimmy brings the groceries to the dock and leaves them at a door, where the Creeper takes them into his hideout. But, when Jimmy tries to spy on him through a window, the Creeper sneaks up on Jimmy and kills him. Meanwhile, at the police station, Captain M.J. Donelly (Donald MacBride) and Lieutenant Gates (Peter Whitney) receive complaints from the mayor's office about their failure to arrest the Creeper, but they deflect the blame. The two officers then get a call about the missing delivery boy and head to the dock to investigate.

The Creeper sneaks out and escapes while Donelly and Gates infiltrate his hideout and discover Jimmy's corpse. Donnelly also finds a newspaper clipping with a man named Hal Moffet and two of his friends, Clifford Scott (Tom Neal) and Virginia Rogers (Jan Wiley), during their college days. The police visit Clifford and Virginia, who are now married and wealthy. Clifford tells the officers during college, Hal was a handsome college football star who competed with Clifford for Virginia's affections. One day, while helping Hal prepare for a chemistry exam, a jealous Clifford deliberately gave him the wrong answers, resulting in Hal being asked by Professor Cushman to remain after class for extra work. While working on a chemistry experiment, Clifford walks by the window with Virginia to boast. Furious, Hal hurls a beaker to the ground, accidentally causing an explosion that disfigures his face. Donnelly speculates that Hal is the Creeper, and that he killed Professor Cushman and Joan because he holds them partially responsible for his accident.

Meanwhile, the Creeper goes to a pawn store to buy a brooch for Helen, and kills the pawnbroker (Charles Wagenheim) following a fight. He later brings the brooch to Helen, who he realizes for the first time is blind. Hal learns she needs $3,000 for surgery that would restore her eyesight. When Helen tries to touch his face, Hal angrily storms out. He then goes to the Scott residence and demands money from Clifford and Virginia, whom he blames for his disfigurement. Clifford draws a gun and shoots Hal twice in the stomach, but the weakened Hal manages to strangle Clifford to death before escaping with Virginia's jewels. He brings them to Helen, who is concerned about Hal's injuries, but he flees before she can learn he is shot.

Helen brings the jewels to an appraiser, who recognizes them as having recently been reported stolen. Donelly and Gates bring Helen into the station, where they inform her Hal is the Creeper and accuse her of harboring a murderer. Reluctantly, she agrees to help them capture him. The next day, the newspapers run stories about Helen cooperating with police, which infuriates Hal. Feeling betrayed, he sneaks back into her apartment and finds her playing the piano. Sneaking up from behind, Hal is about to strangle her when the police seize and arrest him. The film ends with Donelly and Gates assuring Helen she will get the operation she needs.