Great Lost Films of the Eighties (An Occasional Series)

on October 06, 2008 by Steve Simels


Pop quiz: What's the coolest post-nuke apocalypse flick of all time?

With due respect to fans of The Road Warrior , A Boy and His Dog and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn (note: villain Jared Syn is not actually destroyed, and in fact escapes at the film's conclusion), I think most sentient mammals (and they know who they are) are in agreement:

Hands down, it's the 1988 classic Hell Comes to Frogtown , or as our friends at Cahiers du Cinema call it, L'Enfer Vient à la Ville de Grenouille. Starring wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and a bunch of guys dressed as giant mutant amphibians. With a plot essentially summed up by its title.

A war has devastated the earth, and intelligent six-foot frogs, now the dominant species, spend most of their time in their capitol, the titular Frogtown. The last remaining fertile human females are being held prisoner by the Frogtown elders; equally potent Mad Max clone Sam Hell (Piper) is sent to infiltrate the froggy stronghold and impregnate the females, thus saving our species from extinction. The kicker? He's fitted with a codpiece bomb; if he fails to achieve his mission, he can (literally) kiss his gonads goodbye. The film's esthetic high point: A protracted-in-the-molar Sandahl Bergman performs the notorious "Dance of the Three Snakes" for the aroused reptiles. Action star William Smith (who in better days was in Conan the Barbarian with Bergman) and 50s Western star Rory Calhoun also show up without dying of shame.

And in case you think I'm making this up, here's the trailer, including the aforementioned dance/frog porn.

After that, of course, any further exegesis by moi would obviously be superfluous. But I should note that HCTF spawned three sequels: Return to Frogtown (1993), Toad Warrior (1996), and Max Hell Frog Warrior (2002). I'm also told the original more recently inspired a Family Guy episode titled "Hell Comes to Quahog" but I might have been drinking when I heard that.

In any case, you can (and should) order it here ; I haven't seen it myself, but the DVD is from Anchor Bay and in my experience their prints are always first rate (the disc also includes a commentary track by director Donald G. Jackson and writer Randall Frakes ). Connoisseurs of the byzantinely crappy will also be pleased to know that the sequels are available for purchase as well; click the link if you dare.

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