7.12.2008

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Frogs (1972)

DIRECTED BY
George McCowan

STARRING
Sam Elliott - Pickett Smith
Ray Milland - Jason Crockett
Joan Van Ark - Karen
Lynn Borden - Jenny
Adam Roarke - Clint
Judy Pace - Bella

Genre - Horror

Running Time - 90 Minutes

Score - 1 Howl Outta 4


Anytime I'm channel surfing while relaxing on my sofa in front of the television, I sometimes stop on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet whenever they show a special of When Animals Attack. These shows just prove that humans and the rest of mother nature just can't seem to get along with each other.

People being mauled by bears? Sure.

Dudes getting clawed by pissed off tigers? That's gggggrrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaattt!

Idiots losing their anal virginity when some angry bull shoves a horn up their asses? Oooh, that's gotta hurt.

Bumbling bastards getting murdered by frogs?

Wait...you've never seen people die from a frog attack? You're not the only one. You know why? BECAUSE FROGS DON'T DO ANYTHING BUT CROAK AND GET SERVED AS DINNER IN A FRENCH RESTAURANT!!

But don't tell AIP and anyone else behind the 1972 FROGS about that. Apparently they believed that frogs are dangerous animals who have the ability to make much stronger and more dangerous animals like snakes, spiders, and lizards their bitches and do the dirty work for them. Especially when these animals would have trouble living in the same geographical area, let alone gang together to kill people. But hey, I'm just a critic and not a zoologist. What the fuck do I know? Well I do know that Kermit does more physical damage in the bedroom with Miss Piggy than any of these frogs in the movie FROGS do. Let's dig this crap out of the swamp water and see why FROGS isn't worth eating flies over.

PLOT
Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) is a freelance photographer who happens to be in a canoe taking photos of the environmental damage us humans have done. While doing his job, a speedboat hits his canoe, sending him in the water. The driver, Clint Crockett (Adam Roarke), and his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark), help Pickett onto their speedboat and travel back to the mansion of their grandfather, Jason Crockett (Ray Milland) as a way to make it up to Pickett.

Pickett meets the rest of the annoying Crockett family. The overly cranky and stubborn Jason seems to be dealing with a massive overpopulation of frogs. How do we know this? Because they're shown every other minute and the Crockett family complains about their massive croaking day and night. Apparently Jason sent some employee named Grover to spray around to kill the frogs, but Grover hasn't returned. Pickett goes to find out what's up and soon discovers that Grover is dead, covered by snakes and other swamp life. Well I think he's dead, although Grover seems to be moving and opening-and-closing his eyes. But then again, I'm just a critic and not a doctor. What the fuck do I know?

Anyway, Pickett returns and tells Jason about Grover's "death", to which Jason tells Pickett to keep quiet. Why? Because he has a birthday and holiday celebration going on and doesn't want any corpses ruining his fun. How fuckin' considerate. Unfortunately, the bodies begin to pile up, making the Crocketts and Pickett wonder if the overabundance of frogs have something to do with it. Party poopers...

REVIEW
I have three words for FROGS:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

FROGS is one of your typical "nature runs amok" flicks from the 1960s and 1970s where Mother Nature seems to have a thing for making humans suffer for damaging the environment or something like that. I actually don't have issues with these kind of films because they can be pretty silly and entertaining while delivering the message of the film. I do have an issue when you name a film FROGS and they don't do ANYTHING but croak and look around. That's the extent of their evil, folks. They sit and croak. They don't kill anyone in this film, instead letting snakes, lizards, and a fuckin' turtle do all the work. Why not call this film REPTILES, or AMPHIBIANS, or DON'T MESS WITH THE FORKED TONGUED MOTHERFUCKERS or something? It would have been a lot better than just FROGS! Besides, who are afraid of frogs or consider them deadly anyway? Sure, there are poisonous bullfrogs out there. But these frogs were your regular boring frogs! What is the point?

The story is pretty flawed in FROGS. It's not the worst screenplay. In fact, it's actually pretty decent and the dialogue isn't too bad. But writing believable conversations does not make you a good screenwriter when nothing is really explained. For example, why are more deadly animals like snakes taking orders supposedly from frogs? I think that's what is going on because nothing in the film explains this phenomenon of frogs having telepathic abilities to control their fellow creatures in the swamp. I mean, lizards are doing the frogs' work. Snakes and turtles too. How the hell did the frog become the king of the swamp and pond area? If it was something supernatural or these frogs were chemically altered or something to possess this gift, then I'd be more forgiving. But the only explanation I get is that nature had enough of the human race destroying it and has now taken revenge. Now? They're taking revenge NOW? After centuries of ecological damage? Whatever. Screenwriters Robert Blees and Robert Hutchison may call it a good plot device, but I call it lazy. More meat is need on the story's bones for FROGS to be a bit more believable.

Another flaw in the story: the characters are pretty bland and/or annoying. Pickett Smith is an alright guy but he doesn't really do much of anything substantial or heroic to make me care about him. And the Crockett family...sigh, if anyone deserved to be murdered by frogs, it's these people. They're awfully dysfunctional. Most of the women whine to their husbands. They're incredibly racist [one of the members is dating a black woman (Judy Pace) and have black servants]. They try to be witty and funny, but act so seriously that it goes right over your head. Plus they're all idiots and I can't relate to idiots unless they're for laughs.

Well some things are unintentionally funny. Especially when we're supposed to believe that these animals are killing these people off one-by-one. The truth is that the animals only SET UP the demise. But the humans themselves are the ones doing their own killing. I like to call it assisted suicide, because that's what these morons stumbled into. There's one scene where one of the Crocketts runs with a shotgun in his hand [facing downward, which shows you what a genius he is] and accidentally shoots his leg, leading to a bunch of spiders webbing him with moss or something. Yeah, it doesn't make sense but this is FROGS we're talking about.

Another is some annoying bitch chasing butterflies, but gets so scared off by some rattlesnake that she actually strangles herself on some vegetation. After struggling with that, she runs into another snake, gets bitten, and dies. She even turns blue after 2 seconds of the bite as if she were dead for 2 days. Not only does Mother Nature wants revenge, but she can speed up time too!

And then there's the guy in the greenhouse. Boy, did this one make me roll my eyes while laughing. Apparently he's watering some plants or something as some lizards [big and small] just march into the greenhouse and climb up to where open jars of POISON are resting. Yes, a greenhouse with jars of poison - I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. Anyway, the lizards [under the frogs' command apparently] knock these jars down, creating some toxic gas within the greenhouse. Instead of running out like any person with common sense would, the idiot decides to bend down where the gas is and INHALE it! This obviously kills the retard, yet not the lizards inside the greenhouse. Then again, I'm just a film critic and not a biologist or a chemist. What the fuck do I know?

And how could I forget the bitchy and whiny Jenny Crockett (Lynn Borden), who is a pro at getting her foot stuck inside the swamp and getting eaten by a turtle. I'm not sure if it was Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, or Michelangelo. But I'm glad they had a great dinner.

The direction is okay. George McCowan gives the viewer nice looking locales for the swamp scenes and everything is pretty vibrant looking. He also enjoys shooting takes of frogs, lizards, and snakes. I think 70 percent of the film was composed of these shots alone. However, the editing was pretty crappy. The animals and the humans are rarely in the same shot together, taking away the effectiveness of the monotonous murder sequences. Plus that sequence where Pickett finds Grover is horribly edited. He finds him with his eyes closed, yet in the next shot, they're open. Plus when the snake crawls on Grover's body, he actually moves as if the snake is making him uncomfortable. Plus he's breathing the entire time, even though he's dead. It's actually kind of funny but it's still bad filmmaking. But I've seen worse in my lifetime.

The acting isn't really all that impressive. Sam Elliott is actually good here as Pickett Smith. Sans his trademark mustache, Elliott plays the alpha male hero very well. For all the ladies and gay dudes out there, Elliott appears shirtless with his hairy chest in display a few times to prove how masculine he really is. I guess that's who Salt 'N' Pepa talked out when they rapped about "Whatta Man". Joan Van Ark was decent as Karen Crockett. She had some good chemistry with Elliott [although the implications were there, the love angle never played out] and was unreckonizable because she looked so freakin' hot in this film. Who knew she was ever this good looking? Wow...what happened? She may think she looks good now, but I think she looks like a messed up Barbie Doll. But then again, I'm just a critic and not a beauty expert. What the fuck do I know? Ray Milland was good as Jason Crockett, although it was hard to like the character at all. He was just a cranky dumbass. But the performance was alright. Judy Pace was the token black girlfriend, Bella, and was mighty fine at it too. She did a good job displaying sassiness and intelligence. And she didn't die either! The rest of the cast was pretty blah or bad, depending on the actor or actress. The frogs were decent too. Could have used less croaking though and more murdering though.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE REALIZING IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN

- The Crockett family find it funny for a middle-aged woman to chase butterflies. You hear that, Mariah Carey? Stop the crap!

- Jason Crockett shot a snake. I thought snakes were supposed to be the ones doing the shooting when they're excited. I'm confused...

- Nature will get back at us when we take advantage of it and destroy what's good about it. That explains Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt and why I can't seem to escape those two idiots. Damn you, Mother Nature!

- There's a game involving getting on a piece of hard wood while using one hand and a pillow. The rich may claim to have invented this activity, but I've seen this done in quite a few Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick films in my time.

- Some lizards "killed" some dude by combining chemicals to make poisonous gas. That's what you get for not saving a bunch of money by switching to Geico!

- Clint tried to get with Bella, the black girl. Hey, I'm down with interracial coupling. Sometimes, we just want a bit of chocolate in our milk.

- Iris screamed when she wrapped her hand around a big snake. She's either a lesbian or a virgin, I'm guessing.

- Clint got bitten by a water snake, which led to his demise. If he were a Paula Abdul fan, he would have known that it was a coldhearted snake. Just look into its eyes. Uh oh...it's been telling lies!

- Jason Crockett tried to force Kelly to stay at the estate with him to continue the festivities, despite family members getting killed. I'm sure that was Knot(s) Landing well with her!

THE FINAL HOWL
FROGS
isn't the worst film I've ever seen in my life, but it's one of the silliest and laziest ones I have ever witnessed. I was actually pretty bored watching FROGS. It took the simple concept of killer animals and did jack shit with it. The humans are the ones killing themselves. What's the point of FROGS then? Still, it will make you laugh every once in a while at how dumb these characters are and how the animals are barely in the same shots with them doing damage. But without a real reason for these animals to hurt people, what real reason does a viewer care? Total disappointment and worthy addition to the WTF? Vault. Ribbit.

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