Sunday, 1 February 2015


Picture the scene. I was twelve years old at the time. Every Saturday night my dad would come home with a video from the rental store. He loved his action movies and I was introduced to the works of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Seagal at a very young age. I couldn't get enough of film night and my love of action cinema came from there. One particular evening stands out to this day, it was the night my dad introduced us to Hell Comes to Frogtown. "What's it about then, Dad?" I enquired somewhat despondently. "Well it's about giant frogs taking over the world."

I was disappointed. That was obvious. It sounded rubbish. Children don't disguise their feelings in the way that grown-ups do, so an air of unrest was inevitable as we gathered on the sofa to watch his latest acquisition. My brother and I fought to contain our laughter as the opening credits rolled, even at the age of twelve we knew the difference between quality entertainment and seven foot tall dancing frogs. Would we really have to wait a whole seven days before our next action fix? As it turns out, we loved every minute. Some films stay with you, and not always for the right reasons, but I've never had the chance to revisit Hell Comes to Frogtown. Until now.

Being twelve at the time, most of the storyline went over my head. With the 20th Century drawing to a close, nuclear war had wiped out civilization as we knew it. The hopes of the human race now lie with one man and his loaded weapon. That would be his gun, right? Oh how I miss the innocence of youth. Sam Hell may be an ex-con, but he's also one of the last surviving fertile men on the planet. "What's fertile mean, Dad?" Would've been my response at the time. "Ask your Mum", the all too swift reply. Now, under the custody of two feisty female fighters, Sam finds himself on a mission to impregnate the women of the world. Dad must've glossed over that part.

Sounds like a plan I guess, but don't forget I was twelve at the time. My hormones were all over the place. Watching grown-up movies was great and all, but sitting in the dark with your family as a bevy of beauties got naked in front of you, well, it didn't always make for comfortable viewing. The ladies in question were prisoners of Frogtown, home to a gang of mutant - not to mention ill-mannered - amphibians. Looking back now, it's easy to see why this movie stayed with me. There were girls and fleshy bits aplenty. Starring wrestler-turned-actor Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hell Comes to Frogtown is an unashamed B-movie with more guns and girls than you can shake a frog's leg at.

Roddy went on record to say that this was his most natural performance. He admits that the director didn't like him much, and realised early on that an Oscar nomination was unlikely, so he chose to have fun with the role instead, and as a result, Hell Comes to Frogtown is one of his most memorable performances. The other being They Live. It's a short list. Like me, his wife didn't really know what to expect from the movie. Though he's pretty sure it hit home when she turned up on set and met his female co-stars for the first time. Things were frosty for a while there, I'm sure. Looking back now, Sandahl Bergman could've done with a few more meals inside her (that's not a euphemism) but Cec Verrell - as the gun-toting femme fatale - was more than a match for my virginity.

For newcomers, Hell Comes to Frogtown is a curious blend of Mad Max, Big Trouble in Little China, Barbarella and Planet of the Apes. An action comedy that has no right to be as entertaining as it is. Roddy can't really act, the special effects are goofy and the storyline is utter nonsense. The action sequences are underwhelming and the movie - as a whole - fails to capitalise on the promise of its title. However, Hell Comes to Frogtown is a fun movie. Some of the creature effects are outstanding, the dialogue is genuinely funny at times, and most of the girls are worth keeping an eye on. Hell Comes to Frogtown is energetic and rarely dull, an 80s relic dusted down and given a new lease of life by Arrow Films. It's by no means a classic, but they don't make films like this anymore, and the sheer audacity at work is enough to gloss over the cracks of quality filmmaking.

Much like the old days, when I was a disillusioned twelve year old sitting down to watch Hell Comes to Frogtown for the first time, I was expecting to be disappointed by this mystifying 80s oddity all over again. How wrong was I? Hell Comes to Frogtown is lightweight, ridiculous and mildly titillating. Basically, all the things a twelve year old boy - and a grown man attempting to reclaim his youth - could want from a movie. With talking frogs thrown in for good measure.  "I gotta tell you, you are one weird dude." No arguments there.

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