Pro wrestlers ought to make great movie actors. They understand the act of creating a character, reacting to what others do during a performance, delivering their lines in a believable cadence and performing stunts. Sadly there are but a handful of pro wrestlers who have delivered when Hollywood came calling. For every Andre the Giant (The Princess Bride), The Rock (Be Cool) and Jesse “The Body” Ventura (Predator) delivering, audiences must suffer through the wooden and hammy thespian pain that’s Hulk Hogan (No Holds Barred). In 1988 “Rowdy” Roddy Piper took time out of the ring to establish his acting chops in two memorable science fiction films. John Carpenter’s They Live had him as the only man in America to see the aliens among us. The film did well and the major fight scene was ripped off for a South Park episode.. But it was the second film that became a complete cult classic Hell Comes to Frogtown had him as one of the last fertile men on Earth. This turned out to be the film that was constantly checked out at the Videorama.
In the future, the Earth has been reduced to a radioactive wasteland thanks to a nuclear war that didn’t end after a few strategic missiles were launched. Not all of humanity was frizzle fried in the attacks. But sadly nearly all the men have become in fertile. Sam Hell (Piper) wanders the wasteland, but gets caught by an outpost of humanity when he hooks up with a local girl. He was in the process of being executed until the medical team discovers the woman is pregnant. Hell is given a choice, death or being an agent who will help repopulate the planet. Naturally Hell choices the more fun option although it comes at a major price. The first is a weaponized codpiece to protect his precious fluids and make sure he doesn’t run away. The second is an assignment to head back to Frogtown where there’s rumors of women being held captive by the mutant amphibians. He’s assigned to be under the care of Spangle (Conan the Barbarian‘s Sandahl Bergman), a military doctor who has been trained how to train and control a fertile man like Hell. She has a plan on how they’ll go into Helltown with him acting like he’s his female slave that he’s eager to trade so they can get closer to the imprisoned human females. Things go right at first as Hell hooks up with his old wandering pal Looney Tunes (Motel HellConan The Barbarian‘s William Smith). But as usual, the plan falls apart and Hell must improvise or humanity will fall to the empire of the mutant frogs.
After the success of Mad Max and The Road Warrior, there was a wave of post apocalyptic scavenger movies. They pretty much had an outpost of humanity doing its best to survive on locations dressed to resemble Burning Man as if designed by the Fyre Festival planners. But none of those clones of Max had mutant frogs going against humanity which is what made this film so amazing. Someone would say, “You know what I saw last night?” And sure you’d be interested in renting the VHS upon hearing Roddy Piper has to repopulate the planet. But hearing he has to fight giant mutant frogs would change your evening plans. Of course then you’d have to find a video store that had it in stock. Now you don’t have to wait for it since you can finally get all the battle between Roddy and the mutant frogs on Blu-ray which is so much better.
Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 4K transfer is from the 35mm interpositive. The colors and resolution are excellent so you’ll see more of Roddy Piper and the mutant frogs. The audio is DTS-HD MA Stereo. The levels bring out the tones when Hot Rod arrives. The movie is subtitled.
DVD with all stuff on the Blu-ray.
Audio Commentary with Cinematographer/director Donald G. Jackson with writer/producer Randall Frakes goes in deep for how this joyful project came together. They trace their joining up creatively while working for Roger COrman to branching out making their own movies for New Line. Randall edited Aliens before doing Frogtown.
Mean and Green (55:43) really explores the film with Randall Frakes. He admits they winged it and wanted it to mix underground comics with classic comics. He and Jackson met up while working on Galaxy of Terror at Corman. Their supervisor was James Cameron on that shoot.
Grappling with Green Gargantuans (22:16) sits down with Roddy Piper. He never wanted to be an actor or an entertainer. But it happened to him. He said it was a tough movie to make because he didn’t get along with the director. He wasn’t even offered a chance to be in the sequel. He talks about getting serious about the movie after he got the script. He’s pretty candid about things. He talks about his wife’s reaction to the role since he only told her he’d be fighting frogs. Roddy passed away in 2015 and is dearly missed.
Amphibian Armageddon (14:10) takes the frog mask off Brian Frank. He did a lot of TV commercials and was trying to get into sitcoms when he got into the frog role. The role was calling for someone 6’4″ and can move well. He went for it.
Creature Feature Creator (15:30) talks with F/X artist Steve Wang. He talks about what inspired his frog creations. He shows off a surviving frog head. He viewed the movie as a carnal comedy.
Alternate Scene (2:31) is from the start of the movie when Roddy is strapped to the chair as William Smith grills him.
Original Trailer (1:52) promises us mutant frogs.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Hell Comes to Frogtown. Directed by Donald G. Jackson & R. J. Kizer. Screenplay by: Donald G. Jackson and
Randall Frakes. Starring: Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Cec Verrell, William Smith & Rory Calhoun. Rated: R. Running Time: 86 minutes. Released: August 27, 2019
Tags: Conan The Barbarian, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Roddy “Rowdy” Piper, Vinegar Syndrome