Frogs review by The Grim Ringler

>Despite the recent lawsuit that may or may not turn out to be so much bupkis, I have to say that, at least for fans of off the wall genre films, MGM hasnt been all bad. Now, they aint all good either, but you have to like that theyve released so many of their horror, cult, and off the wall library films at such reasonable prices. Some are special editions, some arent, but for around ten bucks, you cant complain too loudly. Which brings us to this Ray Milland oddball.

Featuring a cast of recognizable faces, Frogs is a strange bit of environmental horror. Think of this as What If as presented by someone who has read too much Faulkner. An environmentalist is deep in the south taking pictures of the effects a local conglomerate has had on the wildlife in the area when some drunken rich kids, kids who just happen to be the children of the man who runs the conglomerate, sideswipe his boat. Wanting to make amends for their behavior, the brother and sister offer to take the man back to their fathers estate, clean him up, feed him, and get him back to town. He begrudgingly agrees, if just to placate them. It seems the entire family is at the familys gothic southern mansion to celebrate the birthday of the family patriarch (Milland at his curmudgeonly best), who refuses to let anything stop the party that has been a family tradition for years and years. The patriarch is immediately suspicious of this photographer and makes it known that he doesnt trust why hes there, despite the explanation hes given. Its apparent though that the man has a begrudging respect for the environmentalist who seems to follow his own mind instead of being told what to do as the mans family have been doing to keep in sniffing range of their fathers money. The trouble begins when the family realizes that one of the house servants is missing and the environmentalist is sent to find him. He finds him all right, dead, and when the father is told of it he asks the man to keep it under his hat until the party is finished. Nothing must stop the party. We dont really know why, but darn it, he must like his cake. Meanwhile frogs and other swamp critters are beginning to close in on the house, and on the family. When members of the family begin dying mysteriously and the lizards, snakes, frogs, and gators begin closing in, the family gets panicked and it begins to look as though they are under siege. The father refuse to accept this, despite all the facts before him, and now that the phones are down and their little island paradise has become a hell, things arent looking so hot. But what the dwindling number of survivors must find out is has nature just gone mad on their private islandor all over the world?

The premise is an interesting one. The idea of environmental horror is a subject that hasnt ever really been done well in horror and its a shame as its a pressing question and growing real life horror. Sadly, this isnt the film to change the trend. Its so strange and surreal that the idea of whats behind the attacks from nature is almost secondary. Its as if the filmmaker was more interested in what would happen if something bizarre happened to this family in particular, just because they were so odd. What happens to them is beside the point. The cast is good; its just that they really arent given more than a skeletal structure of a story to work with. And its interesting that in the end, it would seem that the entire world is doomed, but why? In another movie its a scary notion saw, The Birds but here, what does it mean? Basically you are letting Millands character off the hook then. This isnt a vendetta, this isnt revenge against a man who has destroyed the environment for profit, no, hes just the guy the film is centered on. He certainly cant be the straw that broke the camels back. I mean, was he that awful that he made all of nature rise up? Not so much. the attacks are interesting and are staged well, considering there are really no special effects and you have to hope that people believe that some hopping frogs will become menacing. I mean, what the hell is a from gonna do after all? Basically, the animals become killers due to negligence on the part of the humans. One person is poisoned when they go into the greenhouse to get some flowers and they die cause some big lizard knocks over bottles of poison as the door is barred by critters outside. Good grief!

This is a fun rental for the sake of pure weirdness, but beyond that, I cant see a lot of people having much interest. Well shot, ably acted, it just isnt scary, or even creepy. No one likes the idea of being crittered to death but when you dont see any real threat these things can pose, even in numbers (youre telling me you cant run from a snake, frog, or gator?), the premise of the film is lost. I didnt finish watching it feeling more in tune with nature. Or worried. Or even creeped out. I was just disappointed that such a promising idea was pissed away. Its a cheat when a films poster promises something the film doesnt deliver this one shows a frog with a human hand coming out of its mouth, now THAT would have been boss and in the end, thats what the movie is, a cheat. Some solid ideas, good work technically, but without an effective follow-through, this is just another oddity thats best left on the video store shelf to gather dust.

c




4 out of 10 Jackasses
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