Review: Hell Comes to Frogtown / Cert: 15 / Director: Donald G. Jackson / Screenplay: Randall Frakes / Starring: Julius LeFlore, Roddy Piper, William Smith / Release Date: Out Now
In a world (yes, it’s that kind of movie) where the ravages of nuclear war have taken their toll – leaving the majority of the human race infertile – one man stands alone with the power to save the planet, one shag at a time. His name… is Sam Hell.
The trouble is, Sam (Piper) is under arrest by what’s left of the authorities and the only way he can regain his freedom is to sell his plentiful sperm count to MedTech and agree to go out into the wastelands to fertilise the population. Sadly for him, it would appear that they’re out of turkey basters, so he’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. Reluctantly, Sam signs up and finds himself en route to Frogtown, a frontier settlement where the populace took the brunt of the radiation poisoning, creating a bizarre species of frog people. Yes, frog people. There’s some other stuff, but to be honest by this point its fairly circumstantial.
Arriving at the forefront of the VHS boom when producers such as Charles Band would put any old tosh together to entertain the masses, this schlocky classic fulfils most of the criteria. The story is nonsense, the dialogue cheesy and the performances are carved rather than honed. But, somehow, it works.
While this is considered a classic, it is by no means up there with the likes of They Live for example (Piper’s follow-up movie). It falls short in the action stakes and while the frog thing is certainly innovative, the rest is a little too run-of-the-mill. But there’s still lots to like. Piper seems to be having fun with the role and it's contagious, while the effects are (for their day) commendable. Honestly, with a title like Hell Comes to Frogtown you know what’s in store and that’s what you get, no more and no less.
The extras are where this release excels. Rather than just throw a new transfer out into the market, the distributor has tracked down Roddy Piper (who at 59 appears to be battling more with his teeth than mutant frogs these days). In Grappling with Green Gargantuans, Piper talks about his experiences making the film in a manner which (unlike most polished press-kit interviews) is honest and not entirely positive and all the more interesting and compelling for that. Creature Feature Creator talks to Steve Wang, the (now legendary) effects man behind the frogs who at the time worked for next to nothing to make a name for himself (and because he really liked frog people), while Amphibian Armageddon is an interview with Brian Frank, who played the villainous frog, Commander Toty. These along with an extended scene really make this a worthy release of a slice of cinema’s more digestible cheese.
Extras: See above