Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not Quite There: Hell Comes to Frogtown

Going For It:
  • Wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
  • Frog people with decent make-up/costumes
  • That's about it...
The Case Against:
  • Severely uneven tone for the protagonist in the writing
  • Severely dull
  • Severely disappointing
MMG Says:

While we are a proud people here at the Man Movie Guide, we are not afraid or ashamed to admit when we were wrong.  This is one of those instances.  You will have noticed that some time back we posted, on its lonesome, the trailer for 'Hell Comes to Frogtown'.  In MMG-ese, that is our way of saying that we approve of that movie and that it qualifies as a true Man Movie up for review on down the road.

Let us set the stage for you:  Post apocalyptic.  Starring Roddy Piper, wrestling legend and pitch perfect star of MMG favorite 'They Live'.  The protagonist is named Sam Hell, one of the few times we endorse a cute/clever character name.  Sam is an exceedingly rare fertile man in a world that consists only of the following: fertile women, desert wasteland, fertile women, mutant frog people, and fertile women.  Sam is contracted by the government to begin repopulating civilization.  This, dear reader, is a can't-fucking-lose proposition... right?  Not so.  Not so.

The movie starts off nicely enough.  Piper is detained for a crime before the movie begins.  In the initial few scenes he is a wisecracking jokester; and while not every line hits its mark, it is a very good indication that we are getting our hands on the one-liner wisenheimer brand of action hero in this movie.  Only this never really happens.  The viewer must slog through an entire movie as bare and bereft of life as its arid backdrop. The action is few and far between, fairly somnambulent, and Piper doesn't do quite the ass-kicking job that we'd come to expect from either the ring or 'They Live'.  Piper's character even loses his charm pretty quickly; as his 'sit-on-it-and-spin' attitude largely falls prey to a messianic mope routine with occasional bouts of slapstick (centering around his genitals in an electric chastity belt and his ability to cross his eyes... which is oddly not related to his balls' predicament).

As for the supporting cast, it's a mixed bag.  We get a super butch/fairly attractive commando who shows off her tits while escorting Piper.  And if you have a thing for Katey Sagal, then perhaps you can make a case for watching the movie, since there are extended scenes of her bordering-on-malnourished doppelganger prancing around in assorted lingerie.  Then we have poor Rory Calhoun, who genuinely looked and sounded like his handlers had to unhook his oxygen tank between takes (he seemed so close to death that we actually had to check on the proximity of this movie to his actual demise... and astonishingly he held on for another 11 years, and worked another 5).  Lastly, there are the frogs.  There isn't a whole lot to say about them, except that looking at them was one of the scant pleasures this reviewer got from the movie.

This movie, like so many others that fall short, failed to achieve true Man Movie status because it tried to walk in both the light and the dark.  If it resorted to Lloyd Kaufman (Troma) antics?  We have ourselves a winner.  If it went the route of all the killer action movies of the 80s, the Golden Age of the one-liner action film, and focused more on making Piper an ass-kicker who always says something droll after offing a frog? We'd worship it as a direct-to-video masterpiece.  Instead we're left with a movie that gets a passing grade only because we're proud they tried.

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