Movie Review: Hell Comes to Frogtown
If there is one thing that last week's review of the spiritless time-waster Wrong Side Of Town taught us, it's that professional wrestlers are generally better off sticking to what brought them to the dance and shying away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Exceptions to this rule occasionally present themselves, though, as the gallant disposition and natural charisma that a handful of these dexterous grapplers possess demands the kind of exposure that the world of wrestling usually repels. It's hard to know what to expect going into a movie like Wrong Side Of Town, especially with all of the trickery that went into its advertising campaign ("Featuring WWE Champion Dave Batista"... for ten minutes), but with a film like Hell Comes to Frogtown, you know what you're getting yourself into simply by reading the description on the back of the box -- WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper battles giant mutant frog creatures in a post-apocalyptic wasteland... how could this possibly disappoint?
Hell Comes to Frogtown is a screwy little film that showcases the undeniable acting competency of Roddy Piper in his first major starring role. Piper plays Sam Hell, one of Earth's only men left capable of reproducing after full scale nuclear annihilation kills off most of the planet's male population and renders nearly every remaining human sterile. As it turns out, Sam's genitals are completely immune to radioactive fallout, a favorable quality that catches the attention of MedTech, a corporate whose purpose is to gather the lingering fruitful humans and begin to reconstruct the species. Sam accompanies the beautiful Dr. Spangle (Conan the Barbarian's Sandahl Bergman) and her brawny bodyguard Centinella (Cec Verrell) to traverse the barren landscape in their hot-pink PT Cruiser / Volkswagen Bug hybrid on their way to the MedTech headquarters, but much to Sam's dismay, he soon learns of Spangle's ulterior motive involving a side-mission deep within a strange and hostile environment.
The conniving Dr. Spangle leads the team into the crumbling ruins that encompass Frogtown, a deteriorating hamlet inhabited by an abominable breed of frog-people who exist as a byproduct of mankind's carcinogenic fall from grace. Spangle received a tip that an invaluable group of fertile women have been captured and will be abused as sex slaves by the wretched monsters unless they intervene. Although this assignment doesn't sit well with Sam, he has no choice but to comply with Dr. Spangle's orders to captain the crusade into Frogtown. Why is this, you ask? Because the crafty doc has secured a C4 chastity belt around his junk that is "wired to blow" if he attempts to abandon his quest. Spangle's literally got our hero by the balls, and it doesn't take a genius to understand that an explosive blast to the crotch is the last way any man wants to go out. Sam obviously agrees to assist the physician in her daring expedition to free the ladies from the webbed clutches of those dastardly amphibians.
The overall appeal of Hell Comes to Frogtown depends on the individual's tolerance for all of the factors that formulate the average B-movie experience -- a throwaway plot, ineptly coordinated action scenes, and openly self-aware dialog. Appreciators of low-budget cinema will indulge in the film's cheesiness while the typical jaded moviegoer will surely point out its numerous blemishes and dismiss it as unworthy of occupying his DVD player. I prefer the former attitude and happily acknowledge Hell Comes to Frogtown's well-earned place into the boundless "so-bad-it's-good" pantheon of cult movie classics.
The Verdict: It could be said that Hell Comes to Frogtown originally attracted Hollywood to the unrivaled screen presence of Roddy Piper (who would be cast as the lead in John Carpenter's triumphantly awesome They Live later that year). This notorious oddball adventure is deserving of at least one viewing as it succeeds at poking fun at the post-apocalyptic action genre that dominated the 70s and 80s, but both Piper's hilarious performance as Sam Hell and the absurd inclusion of mutant frog creatures as the central villains stand as the only real attributes that separate Hell Comes to Frogtown from the rest of the pack. I'll give it a 4 out of 10, but the rating may have been higher if an alternate title may have been chosen. May I suggest Roddy Piper's 'Nads Save the World?