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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Frogs (1972)

If you have spent much time here at the site, you probably have noticed my love of regional drive-in movies. Frogs is one of those flicks, but I’ve never been a huge fan of it. That said I thought it was about time for me to revisit it.

The movie opens with a guy in a canoe taking pictures of the wildlife around a lake. We notice he is being watched by what appears to be some angry frogs. Later we find out that his name is Pickett, and he is working on an article for an ecology magazine. When a member of the local rich family, the Crocketts, almost runs him down in their fancy speedboat he gets an invite to the big fourth of July shindig. There he meets Karen, the granddaughter of the family’s patriarch Jason (played by a very crusty Ray Milland).

The rest of the movie has Crockett, the household staff, the Crockett family, and a couple guests hanging out at the house not noticing how the animals in the local swamp/lake have started behaving oddly. It isn’t until Jason asks Crockett to find his missing employee Grover, who is dead, that anyone even realizes how screwy things have become. But by then it is already too late as one by one the critters lay traps for the humans killing them off in creative ways. When the survivors finally do get off the island and back to the mainland, they find out that this is happening everywhere and that the frogs are in charge and coordinating the deaths… at least I think that was the point of the freeze frame at the end.

I’ll admit that I did like Frogs a bit more this time around, though I’m still not a fan. It is an early entry into the ecohorror subgenre that had flicks like Day of the Animals (Ozone Layer), Food of the Gods (pollution/nature hitting back), Prophecy (pollution again), Night of the Lepus (genetic manipulation), and many others. It is your basic mother nature being fed up with humans and fighting back. Though that is only hinted at here. You have Crockett’s work, but he isn’t too in your face about it. Not a single monologue about how it is our fault! Even the crusty old patriarch seems to tolerate the animals in the woods, though he does allow the liberal use of pesticides. But I expect these movies to beat us over the head with the message.

I find his lack of mustache disturbing
I think that the choice of frogs as our main “villain” is a bit of an issue. Especially since they don’t actually kill anyone until the end of the movie and that is only by freaking out Jason and giving him a heart attack. Instead we get a guy tripping-shooting himself-tarantula kill, lizards-greenhouse-poison containers getting knocked over kill, butterflies-leaches-snakebite kill, and a snapping turtle attack after someone gets trapped in the mud. There is also another snakebite ambush kill and a straight up alligator attack, which is probably the best. Most of the time the frogs are just watching and planning evilly… which of course I had to infer because we get nothing in the actual dialogue to explain it. Though everyone keeps bitching about being kept up all night by their croaking so maybe it is psychological warfare!

Really though the entire movie is quite silly and not in a giant mutant bear, killer dog sized wasps, or truck sized bunnies kind of way. At least in those cases the animals on the poster were the danger. Here the frogs, who by the way were imported toads, do nothing. Combine that with some slow pacing as even the “chase” scenes drag, and you get a movie that just doesn’t scratch that creature feature/nature attacks itch. I’m still not a fan and while I appreciate some of the goofy bits and the hammy acting from the legendary Ray Milland Frogs is still a drag to sit thru. Oh, and Sam Elliot without his signature manly mustache is a deal breaker as well. Skip this one and watch one of the other movies I mentioned in this review instead.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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