What is Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)?

What is this movie? Is it post-apocalyptic? Yes. Is it a sex comedy? Yes. Seriously… with nudity? Yes. Does it star a Canadian wrestler? Yes. Are there frog monsters? Yes… with varying degrees of “special” in the effects.

It is a bizarre fever dream. It’s the future. A hilariously deadpan intro explains that nuclear war has decimated the earth’s population and left many infertile. The army is now replaced by the female-led, pink-blazoned MedTech, who seek out fertile men and women to repopulate the country. Our female lead from MedTech, Spangle (Sandahl Bergman, no relation to Ingmar), is on a mission to get fertile Sam Hellman (Roddy Piper, looking like a glazed ham) out of jail for a possible rape to rescue and impregnate some fertile women held captive by frog monsters, because… nuclear mutations? Were they people who became frogs or frogs who became people, who knows. Is Hellman a rapist? Charges withdrawn. There are gunfights, there is a frog saloon, there is a crusty uranium prospector, there are scantily clad women and a love story. It’s hilarious and truly strange. There’s even a weirdly feminist element to the plot, as the MedTech women are fighting war-mongering with… sex?

Reviews for this film sit around 50% on IMDB, with most reviews sitting around the middle, and this honestly surprised me because I thought people would definitely have strong feelings on such a mad creation. Putting it on a horror/genre streaming service like Shudder even seemed like an odd fit, but the film defies categorisation. I loved it. It was all over the map in the best possible way, I genuinely never knew what was coming next and I did not care. There are explosives strapped to a guy’s junk controlled by earrings. There is a frog stripper. There is a frog king with three penises. But, above all, it is competently shot. The camera work and lighting looks good. Some of the frog effects are great, except the background toadies (see what I did there?). There was love put into it. You should see it if you can.

 

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) is overall, pretty good. Or maybe I was biased after watching Sleepaway Camp II and III (which have many more problems than just transphobia). The plot is basically that high school girls are having a sleepover and there is an escaped, insane killer on the loose. Obviously, these two worlds must meet. Rather than a traditional knife-wielding slasher, this killer favours a drill (which he still somehow uses to slash people). The effects are pretty shaky, but about what to expect for the era. I liked the drill as a killing gimmick, but it wasn’t used in very inventive ways. It’s a bit weird for the genre that the killer is revealed in full daylight early in the film. No build-up, just “hey look at that guy with a big drill”. There’s another red herring guy introduced… except we know it’s not him, as we’ve already seen the killer. Similarly, one girl, Trish, is introduced as the lead, but we follow another girl parallel to the main story, Valerie, who winds up as more of a protagonist. Weird stuff, structure-wise.

It’s interesting to see a horror film written and directed by women, and there are little moments that stand out for portraying the relationships of women in a more nuanced way than expected; like Valerie and her sister, Courtney, who bicker realistically. I noticed that (other than one big meathead) the male protagonists were thin, weedy-looking dudes; smaller and less athletic than the heroines, seen playing basketball in the beginning.  Legend has it, the script was originally written as a parody, only to be picked up and produced as another generic slasher. The final showdown even sees our lead girl, Valerie, castrate the killer’s phallic drill! It would have been intriguing to see a full parody, but I guess you can’t have everything. Maybe someone will reboot the franchise?

The female leads all give fairly natural performances and portray friendship in an interesting way for the era. Okay, yeah… there are some nice, gratuitous boob shots, but at least they spoke like actual people and didn’t fall into the very generic bad girl/bob

good girl/dumb girl categories. As in Carrie, there is a sympathetic woman gym coach… wonder what might happen to her.

Also, and it’s probably because of the jean jacket and grey hair, but I just couldn’t get over how much the killer looked like Bob from Twin Peaks. If anything, that added to the creepiness. Altogether, though, this film was pretty watchable and definitely better than some of my recent choices. I’m looking at you, Angela Baker… but that’s a tale for another time.