George McCowan, 1972
Starring: Ray Milland, Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke
Why is this movie called Frogs? Sure, there might be some frogs present - actually I believe they are toads - but there are also a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids. Most of these animals - snakes, turtles, geckos, tarantulas, frogs - are not remotely deadly. I can’t think of a way in which frogs or geckos could kill a person and this movie isn’t very good at thinking up ways for that to happen either. Tarantulas could potentially kill you if you’re allergic to their venom (as with bees), but the majority of “killer” animals in this film have no hope of ever actually killing a person. As a result, the death scenes are absurd and laughable. Many of them have to be seen to be believed. Did I mention that the titular frogs croak a lot, but never actually attack anyone?
The Crockett family is beset by a variety of animals and insects (I forgot to mention the butterflies earlier) at their Florida island home after they treat nature like total garbage. A nature photographer accidentally gets involved and implores them to treat the environment better, but his pleas fall of deaf - some might say dead - ears. Between the pollution and pesticide sprays, the animals of the island have had enough and decide to take back what is theirs.
This is another movie where someone treats the environment poorly and all hell rains down upon them. Unlike most other films in this genre, which attempt a sort of thin scientific explanation, Frogs doesn’t even bother to give a reason. Most of the animals used are real (some of the scenes seem to be bolstered with stock footage), not props, which brings a little more credibility to the film, but it also makes it a little more dull. The swamp can be a scary place, but not in Frogs. The animals are overly intelligent and seem to have some sort of inter-species telepathy that allows them to gang up on the humans. Most of the deaths involve the animals getting together and scaring the humans into accidentally killing themselves. If I had to listen to incessant croaking like that all the time, I would probably accidentally kill myself too.
There’s a relatively high body count with a bit of gore. Frogs is surprisingly well-cast, with Ray Milland making a particularly welcome presence. It’s adequately acted, well directed overall, and the swamp-based set is nice to look at. Unfortunately there are many slow, dialogue heavy scenes. The movie has no major climax, but I disliked most of the characters enough that I was happy to spend 90 minutes watching them die and then have everyone wander off into the sunset. Frogs is flawed, but amusing and is the sort of film to watch in a room full of horror fans. Preferably intoxicated. It’s funny and lighthearted and while it attempts to take itself seriously, there is no way any audience could have done the same. If you like a lot of cheese with your movies, then Frogs is definitely for you. Check out the DVD from MGM.