Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Donald G Jackson’s Hell Comes to Frogtown.
In a post apocalyptic wasteland ripped straight out of The Road Warrior, human beings have become almost entirely infertile due to nuclear fallout. Enter Sam Hell, wasteland nomad and one of the last few fertile men on Earth. After a run-in with a group of warrior-nurses known as Med-Tech, he signs on to help “repopulate” the world. Unfortunately the fertile women whom he was supposed to impregnate have been captured by giant mutant frogs. Thus, the warrior-nurses and Sam Hell must travel to Frogtown to free them. No, I’m not making any of this up.
Hell Comes to Frogtown is classic B-movie cheese. It starts off as a pretty basic Mad Max knockoff with a much goofier tone, but when Hell arrives at the titular Frogtown (yes, the title is very literal) everything kicks into high gear. The sets and costumes here are legitimately awesome, and the makeup and puppetry used for the frogs is great. A few of them look a bit “muppety” with mouths that just open and close flatly, but those that are rendered solely through the use of makeup effects look good, and there’s one really impressive animatronic head with a lot of articulation in the lips and eyes. That one’s the main villain, and the time was well spent.
The cast here is solid across the board in a B-movie kind of way. Rowdy Roddy Piper (RIP) plays Sam Hell, and while he may not be quite as good in this as he was in They Live, he’s extremely likable in the role. If you’re familiar with him or his wrestling career then you kind of know what to expect. He hams it up and carries the movie in a lot of ways. The character he plays could have easily come across as a complete scumbag, but he pulls it off. Sandahl Bergman plays Spangle, the nerdier of the two warrior-nurses and she kicks ass in spite of the movie’s complete devotion to treating her (and every other woman in the film for that matter) like a sex object. She even has the closest we get to a character arc in the film and when she inevitably becomes a damsel in distress she gets herself out of the situation.
There are hints of social satire throughout and as a result, the movie sits right on the edge of offering some sort of actual social commentary. It could have been subtly smart in a dumb exploitation kind of way (think RoboCop or Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead), but since whatever point they were trying to make doesn’t really get across, it just ends up as dumb fun. Maybe that’s for the best. With every woman getting at least mostly naked at some point in the film and throwing herself at Sam, the entire story oozes sexism and misogyny, but it’s just too dumb and goofy to take any of it seriously. I could see it bothering some people, but when two scenes earlier a giant frog tried to chainsaw Rowdy Roddy Piper’s junk off I can’t get that mad about it. That’s just me, though.
The film looks good for what is, although it is certainly on the lower end of the budget spectrum. The camerawork is nice and inventive, and like I mentioned before, the sets and costumes all look great. One of my favorite things about the post-apocalyptic setting across the board is how cool and creative you can be with the clothing. Everything in Frogtown looks patched together from bits and pieces picked up along the way. There are plenty of gas masks and odd knick-knacks attached everywhere. It doesn’t reinvent the style, but it also doesn’t completely rip off The Road Warrior either.
Hell Comes to Frogtown is a must see. It’s one of the weirder entries in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre, and for that alone it should be witnessed. Roddy Piper is eternally watchable in this and elevates what is otherwise a cheap exploitation flick into something with a surprising amount of charm. Check this one out for sure.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.