Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987) | This guns, girls and Gargantuan greeners sci-fi comedy deserves its cult status
EAT LEAD, FROGGIES!
In a post apocalyptic wasteland where 68% of the men-folk have become sterile, virile mercenary Sam Hell (Roddy Piper) is captured for breeding stock by the female-run Medtech organisation. He’s then given the chance to gain his freedom, but it means heading into hostile mutant amphibian territory to rescue a group of fertile pilgrim women being held hostage by the notorious rebel commander Toty. And there’s no chance of escape, because Sam’s got a bomb attached to his privates…
IT’S THE PLANET OF THE APES – WITH FROGS!
From Star Wars to Flash Gordon and Mad Max, this Planet of the Apes (with frogs!) oddity from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures pays homage to those sci-fi classics with a futuristic comedy that well deserves its place as a cult cinema curio.
Following some cool opening titles, the nods are up on screen from the onset. The desert setting is totally Road Warrior territory, while Frogtown’s saloon rips off the cantina in Star Wars. There’s even a character that could be mistaken for a Tusken Raider, and the Planet of the Apes references are many – especially David Shapiro’s brilliant score which has a big Jerry Goldsmith vibe.
Former wrestling star ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper plays the Sam Jones-inspired blonde beefcake hero who, like a futuristic Percy, has to shag his way to freedom. But the sex on offer is all of the teasing semi-nude variety. And flashing the flesh is Conan/Red Sonja actress Sandahl Bergman, who is forced to ‘Dance or die’ in the film’s most memorable scene (and a YouTube favourite) in which she ends up arousing the slimy Commander Toty’s three-head trouser snake. Ee-gads!
It’s Frogtown’s mutants that really steal the show. These include Fez-wearing lounge toad Leroy, whip-cracking torturer Bull, handmaiden Arabella (who looks like a cross between Zira and Phyllis Diller) and Commander Toty (wonderfully voiced by Brian Frank). The creature effects and animatronics are first class – an amazing feat considering sfx artist Steve Wang (who was working on Predator at the time) did everything for just $12,000. Interestingly, Hell Comes to Frogtown has two directors: Donald G Jackson, who’d go on the lens two inferior sequels before his death in 2003, while RJ Kizer has forged himself a career as a sound technician, working on big-budget films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Wolverine.
If, like me, you missed this the first time round, when it graced many a video store shelf (and bargain bin), then the newly restored (limited edition) release from Arrow in the UK is the best way to catch this wildly original 1980s sci-fi mash-up.
The extras include:
• Grappling with Green Gargantuans, in which self-confessed ‘weird dude’ Roddy Piper recalls his time on the film, the negativity he got from Hollywood and why he gave up acting after appearing in John Carpenter’s They Live in 1988.
• Creature Feature Creator, in which Steve Wang reveals how Frogtown’s mutant manifestations were constructed.
• Amphibian Armageddon, in which actor Brian Frank reflects on wearing Commander Toty’s ‘classy’ animatronic headpiece.
• Extended Scene (from VHS) of the interrogation scene.
Posted on February 3, 2014, in Might See, Might-See, Sci-Fi and tagged 1980s sci-fi comedy, Arrow Video, Cult cinema curio, Donald G Jackson, Hell Comes to Frogtown, New World Pictures, RJ Kizer, Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Sci-Fi, Sex comedy, Steve Wang. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.