Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Hell Comes to Frogtown
Relax, I’ve been trained in seduction techniques
Jarv’s Rating: 2 and a half Changs out of 4- mad as a box of frogs.
Hell Comes to Frogtown is insane. That’s honestly the only description I can come up with to describe it- it’s just completely nuts. It was clearly written by a group of people who came off their medication before medical professionals recommend, obviously directed by committee, and quite simply one of the funniest B-movies from the 80’s. It’s also a completely necessary survival manual for repopulating the Earth in the event of Nuclear War.
It’s the near future, and after the apocalypse the Earth’s population has been decimated. Women are now in charge, but there’s an unfortunate problem in that the nuclear war has rendered most of the species infertile. Enter Sam Hell, the smuggest git ever to survive Armageddon. He’s apparently a big ball of testosterone who has left a trail of pregnancies in his wake. He’s co-opted by “medtech”, equipped with a chastity belt (more on this later) and ordered to accompany Spangle on a pink love bus and go into the badlands to find fertile women to bump uglies with. One thing leads to another, and they end up in Frogtown where they’re captured. Carnage and hilarity ensue, everyone escapes. Smug git lands harem.
To be absolutely honest, if it were after the apocalypse and I was the man in possession of the humanity-saving magic bollocks then I have to say that I’d be pretty smug too. I wouldn’t, on the other hand, be dimwitted enough to get captured by neo-Fascist feminists who would equip my junk with an iron chastity belt. This is actually one of the funniest props that I’ve ever seen- not only is it a metal belt, but if Sam gets a bit frisky, then Spangle touches her earring and it delivers a massive electric shock straight to his gonads. Also, if he tries to escape and gets to far away from her it will automatically deliver another massive electric shock to his nuts. Wearing a metal chastity belt clearly sucks, but why you would want to repeatedly electrocute the magic love spuds needed to save humanity is clearly something that the proto-fascists haven’t thought out properly.
This film is, as I’ve said, insane. However, I’ve not really done the set pieces any favours in that brief synopsis. Spangle (Sandahl Bergman- better known as blonde wench in Conan or Queen Gedren in Red Sonja) is a fine-looking woman, and as part of her training as a Medtech officer she’s got a degree in the art of seduction. This periodically involves her stripping down to her underwear and dancing around Sam to make sure that any teenagers watching get a boner Sam’s, erm, pump is fully primed. There’s no explanation why the gunner on the love bus feels a need to shed her clothes and hop in the sack with Sam, but she does none the less.
Once they get to Frogtown the film really finds another gear of lunacy. Frogtown isn’t just a clever name, being as it is actually populated by giant mutant frogs- who are ruled by big badass toad boss Toty. He takes a bit of a shine to Spangle, and decides that she must perform the “dance of the three snakes for him”- I suggest anyone with a weak constitution stop reading now- which, again, isn’t just a clever name. The dance of the three snakes is basically a pretty lame belly dance designed with the sole purpose of arousing His Wartliness, whereupon he will unleash his mighty 3 pronged tool of destruction. Yuck. Quite how this works on a biological level is completely beyond me, and I don’t want to think too much about it as it does induce nausea, but luckily Spangle is a girl of action and delivers 3 quick kicks to his triple-barreled schlong of doom to escape.
The acting in this film isn’t up to much, to be honest. Rowdy Roddy Piper just looks like a smug git throughout the film (it was made before They Live! and he isn’t anywhere near as good in this as he is in Carpenter’s gem), Bergman looks sedated for much of the film, but she does her best. The acting honours, however, go to Rory Calhoun as the appropriately named Loony Tunes, who chews some scenery and seems to be having much more fun than everyone else.
The dialogue in this film is simply reprehensibly awful, and there’s no doubt that it hindered the acting- take this exchange for example:
Spangle: “You gotta to save yourself for fertiles.”
Sam: “I have enough.”
Good for you, you smug git. However, writing on this level, while inept, is always really, really funny. The whole film seems to be an excuse for a series of nob gags. They also, as if the dialogue wasn’t dumb enough, frequently paint themselves into narrative corners that require ludicrous lengths to get out of. For example, how is Sam going to lose the chastity belt- it will apparently explode if he tries to take it off, and will also blow his nads off if he manages to withstand the electrocution to make it too far? Well, for most that would be a conundrum, but for these writers the solution is easy: have a giant mutant frog chainsaw it off:
The direction is also confused, but at least this time I know precisely why. Hell Comes to Frogtown was being touted round New World Pictures by Jackson, the director, and inexplicably the script picked up a bit of a buzz. The studio went nuts and greenlit it with the frankly inexplicable budget of $1.5m. They weren’t completely coked out of their gills though, and insisted that Jackson co-direct with former editor R.J.Kizer. The film clearly suffers from this decision, feeling unsurprisingly like two films cobbled together. The pre and post Frogtown sequences feel completely different, the tone is just completely off in both. However, this doesn’t distract from the hilarity on screen.
Overall, would I recommend it? Well, it is crazier than crazy paving and it is a confused and bizarre mess. However, it is also downright hilarious on more than one occasion, rip-roaring fun and if it is only destined to be a cult curio, then it’s a cult curio I’m happy to own.
Hell Comes to Frogtown is a ludicrously entertaining effort, and one I clearly think deserves rehabilitation. It’s never going to win prizes, but it is an absolutely cracking beer and pizza film. Recommended.
Until next time,