They say that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Well, can you judge it based on it’s name? If so, I’m sure Hell Comes to Frogtown is something worthy of my time. If the insanely dumb title doesn’t sucker you in, then allow me to explain why this is piece of cinematic trash is absolutely worth a watch.
Thanks to the success of The Road Warrior, low budget, post apocalyptic films were a dime a dozen in the 1980’s. Hell Comes to Frogtown probably wouldn’t exist without the legendary Mad Max films, but it also cribs from plenty of other popular movies as well. The film combines one part Escape from New York, a bunch of Mad Max, a dash of Planet of the Apes, a sprinkling of WWF antics, and some of it’s own unique n’ peculiar spices. The end result is something wonderfully weird and wholly unique. And by wholly unique I mean a film laden with dick bombs, a race of mutants created by nuclear fallout, a faction of no-nonsense warrior nurses, the mystery that is the dance of the “three snakes”, and the most tastefully erotic scene you’ll ever see with… um…she-frog nipples.
To put you in the correct frame of mind this movie starts with its star, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper getting SMASHED in the face with a prop whiskey bottle and it ends with him riding off into the sunset in a humvee full of women that he needs to impregnate! Seriously, I couldn’t make this shit up if I wanted to!
The elevator pitch is real simple, Piper plays Sam Hell…the last fertile man in the Wasteland. He gets captured by a fanatical procreation group of women (who happen to be the closest thing to a Government left). They quickly enlist him in their efforts which involves a chastity belt bomb strapped to his private parts. Afterwards he’s then quickly whisked off on a suicide mission to rescue fertile virgin maidens from the depths of Frogtown. Let me put your fears to rest, yes, Frogtown is an old west style, frontier town full of bi-pedal, humanoid, frog people. Hell Comes to Frogtown isn’t pulling any punches with it’s straightforward title. Nope, this is Santa Claus is Coming to Town as re-imagined by Roger Corman and crew. Ready the stunt men, gently mist the fully prosthetic frog suits with water, and let’s head to some third world country to make a fucking movie!
What makes this particular film work is three very specific ingredients. The warrior nurses, Sam Hell, and Frogtown. Each idea is interesting alone, but combined they make for a truly wonderful piece of schlock cinema.
First we have the Warrior Nurses. Think of them as Fallout’s Brotherhood of Steel reimagined by way of 1950’s Rosie the Riveter “can do” attitude, the iconic AVON saleswoman and GI Joe. They are battle ready, no nonsense, strong women, who will stop at nothing to repopulate the world after the nuclear war. After arming Sam’s nether region with an explosive wiener bomb, two of these women accompany him on his mission. One is Spangle who is the brains of the mission (though she is combat ready as well as trained in the arts of seduction). The other is the gun loving Centinella. These two women handle the typical male roles of captain and heavy weapons gun fanatic. It’s a riot watching them make Sam their bitch and turns what could be a very chauvinistic, T&A affair, into something a bit more subversive. Honestly, the Nurses are so damn weird I’d actually watch an entire film just about them.
Next up we have our charismatic lead, Sam Hell. If I’m being honest, Sam is oddly the least interesting thing in the film. Piper plays the role with right level of pomp and charm. He exudes an everyman quality and despite being the last fertile man on Earth, he isn’t some dick-swinging cock-sure hero. He’d rather run away then do anything heroic, feels weird about sleeping with a woman sheerly for procreation, and sort of plays against type 90% of the time. He’s a little like Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China where he’s not even really the hero and that’s what makes him interesting. Piper is great in every scene, but sadly doesn’t have any classic one liners like his other popular film “The Live”. Still fans of his won’t walk away disappointed.
Finally we have Frogtown itself. The final act of the film takes place in and out of the titular town and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s filled with actors in full frog suit prosthetics, which still look great today, as well as frog people hidden behind masks and gloves. If you turned this movie on hoping to see a frogman in a white suit wearing a red fez then all of your wildest dreams are about to come true. Frogtown is delightfully silly and pretty much every minute the film spends there is absurd to the point of joyous laughter and ridicule. The fact that it’s played entirely straight only makes it even more enjoyable. Watching Piper pretend to sell Spangle for 50 “Lillies” is the kind of stuff that fills a room with deep, full, belly laughs.
In the end that is why you watch something called Hell Comes to Frogtown. This is type of film that works best with a crowd of people and ample amounts of booze. You don’t overthink anything and bask in the hilarity that unfolds onscreen. It’s surprisingly well made as the plot is simple/straightforward, the effects still look great, and it rarely ever drags. For a B movie you can certainly do MUCH worse than something like this.
Most wasteland/post apocalyptic 80’s films are chalk full of gratuitous violence and nudity. Hell Comes to Frogtown surprisingly sidesteps that stereotype as well. You do see women in various states of undress, but it’s shocking tame in that department…especially given its plot point of repopulating the Earth. That alone makes you wonder if it’s going to basically be soft core porn! Thankfully it’s not. The film plays out more like a live action, vulgar cartoon rather than your typical sleezy cult classic. It’s goofy tone and completely insane world is what gives the film it’s rampant charm and watchability. This would make a hell of a double feature with the equally silly Cherry 2000! Recommended.