So, it's surprising when American International Pictures decided to make a man vs. nature horror film that the filmmakers selected frogs to be the focus. Of course, it could be that someone designed the poster first and that image of a human hand protruding from a frog's mouth was just too good to pass up. When I was a teen, it convinced me to plop down $2 to see Frogs at my local theatre. But, for goodness sakes, what inspired Oscar-winning classic film star Ray Milland to take the lead role? The answer is provided by Mr. Milland, who--when asked why he made so many questionable movies later in his career--responded: "For the money, old chap, for the money."
|Ray Milland chats with Sam Elliott.|
|Where's the famous moustache?|
As interest in ecology spiked in the 1970s, the film industry introduced a number of low-budget "eco-horror" films, such as Grizzly ("18 feet of towering fury!"), Day of the Animals, ("The terrifying movie of a world gone mad!"), and--the best of the bunch--John Frankenheimer's Prophecy. Even Godzilla got into the act with Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. As the first of this subgenre, Frogs leaves a lot to be desired. It never mounts a legitimate scare (unless you suffer from herpetophobia), wastes a decent cast, and muffs its ecology message (if, indeed, there was any intent to state one). At its best, it's silly fun if watched in the right frame of mind.
Still, I learned three things from Frogs:
|Elliott, with shirt on, and Joan Van Ark.|
(2) Lizards are the smartest of reptiles. When it comes time to kill one of the Crockett clan in a greenhouse, the lizards knock selected bottles of chemicals off the shelves and mix them into a toxic gas. Lizards as chemists--who would have imagined?
(3) Frogs aren't scary, but they must be highly intelligent because, in Frogs, they seem to convince the other animals to do all their dirty work while they get the majority of close-ups.
As for one-time Best Actor Ray Milland, Frogs ranks in the middle of his latter career filmography. It compares unfavorably to imaginative low-budget efforts like Panic in Year Zero and X--The Man With X-Ray Eyes. On the other hand, Frogs is a considerable improvement on Terror in the Wax Museum, The Thing With Two Heads, and The Sea Serpent.
And, by the way, an "army of frogs" is the proper biological term for a bunch of frogs. Who said the Cafe wasn't educational?