In a post-apocalyptic future, the world population has been left both decimated and barren. With fertile men few and far between, a female-led government decides to trap wasteland scavenger Sam Hell with the intent of using him to repopulate the planet. However, what women that could be impregnated, having been captured by humanoid frogs, they must first be rescued before humanity can be saved. So, will Sam be able to rise the occasion?
Well, Seriously. What do you think?…
…a few bits work, most don’t and the frog people never get a decent shake of sentiment even from the script, let alone the special effects department.
To describe, Hell Comes To Frog Town as slim, slight, derivative, derisory and daftly coasting on the merest waft of a plotline would churlish and wholly accurate. As a vehicle for former, WWF wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, this is a film that spars for similar awfulness alongside his erstwhile combattant, Hulk Hogan’s movies.
Wilfully ripping off much of Mad Max for its looks and Escape From New York for its premise, what charm here is clearly aimed at 14-year-old boys who have yet to discover how sexual dynamics actually work. Further filling its boots with borrowings from the re-visitable Damnation Alley and Denzel Washington’s Book of Eli, the strokes here are so intentionally broad that it’s difficult to work out if this is a drama gone wrong or a sex comedy whose humour is lost its inflexion. Both the script and its characters clearly know what’s right and what’s tasteless and yet like one-hit-wonder Robin Thicke, it still knowingly blurs the lines. And that’s a shame because in amongst the debris there’s a lot of early film career trivia. None more so than the debut of actress Cec Verrell, an accompanying female marine whose deadpan deliveries you can’t help feeling inspired a much better role model in Aliens‘ Jenette Vasquez. Sadly though, most of the risible, scantily clad nonsense is left to Sandahl Bergman, who plays a sexualised scientist with her finger on Sam Hell’s exploding crotch. Yes, Sam Hell has a chastity-belt fashioned out of C4 explosive lest he tries to abandon the party early – but then again, that’s unlikely because this movie was going to be “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s launchpad to on-going affection.
You see, for those who weren’t alive to see Hell Comes To Frog Town on its first release (that’d be 1986), you might be better acquainted with a similar sense of head-shaking silliness that is the video game Duke Nuk’em. Although not directly linked, the inspirations are clearly shared. Rowdy Roddy Piper has a hair cut on loan from He-Man and a jacket from Mel Gibson and he thrives on intentionally dumb innuendos and the script’s crass sexploitation theme. Fortunately, though, things never really out of hand, as the aforementioned Cec Verrell always has the most polished weapon in the desert (if you know what I mean).
So, stuck within a sex parody that doesn’t have the requisite balls to embrace its full-feminist flirtations, Hell Comes To Frogtown will forever slide back into the mire of “minutes you’ll never get back”, not even for a naff, nacho-fuelled, laughter fest. Because whichever way you cut this soufflé (and believe you me, soufflés should never be cut, even if you’re short of time) this is one movie that was always pre-destined to fall apart.
And yet. In its closing minutes, it could have inspired one of the best pro-feminist actioner movies of all time: that of course, being Mad Max Fury Road.
Coming as no real surprise and no that much of a spoiler, the end sequence involves Sam Hell running away from a wasteland overlord having stolen several beautiful concubines in a tricked-out offroad vehicle. Sounds familiar? -Well, Hell, yes! Warranted, comparable and even at a scratch, tangentially and possibly influential? -Er, sadly no. Whilst fate had, for no apparent reason, bizarrely scattered a potentially rich winning hand over Hell Comes To Frogtown‘s closing scenes, Roddy Piper still manages to stuff it with a single, back-washed sentence of sexist privilege.
Dumb… As… Frogspawn.
So, in the end, you have a movie, where a few bits work, most don’t and the frog people never get a decent shake of sentiment even from the script, let alone the special effects department. You see if a movie ever starts out with the precise intention of being a “cult classic”, you should know you’re in for some very sandpapered surprises. Not sure what I mean? -Then watch the “SNL action-comedy film” that is MacGruber? -Right. S… N… L… Snores Not Laughter.
Sadly a case of read it, ribbit, and remove it when it comes to this joining your lost classics list.