Cult Cinema: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

And now for something completely different......

"This is getting a little weird.....
even for my taste."
The 1980s were a goldmine for dusty post-apocalyptic films. Heavy hitters like Mad Max or The Day After spawned countless copycats of varying degrees of quality. Let us flashback to the wonderful year of 1988. A man known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper took the cinema world by storm when he donned his alien-revealing sunglasses and waxed poetic about bubblegum in John Carpenter’s now iconic film They Live. That same year, however, Roddy took a trip to another place: Frogtown. In Hell Comes to Frogtown, Roddy plays a wanderer named Sam Hell (most likely a play on the phrase “What the Sam Hill is goin’ on here?!”) who has the special power of being able to impregnate women. In the universe of the film, there was a nuclear war that rendered most of the male population sterile(a la A Boy and His Dog) and Mr. Hell somehow still has that kid makin’ magic still left in his baby batter. If this isn’t a kick ass premise for a film then I don’t know what is. The ‘80s were a special time in cinema.

After some circumstances, Sam has to accomplish a mission in Frogtown, which is a city populated by, you guessed it, mutant frogs. Frogs who can walk and talk and who also own dance clubs and bars. Sam’s main partner in crime is Nurse Spangle, who is played by Sandahl Bergman, best known as the barbarian warrior Valeria in Conan the Barbarian. Even though Roddy’s character is supposed to be kind of an asshole, he comes off as pretty likeable for most of the film which is due to Roddy’s good natured charisma shining through. Did I mention that Sam has to wear an electronic codpiece over his junk to keep him from straying too far from his partner? His penis is literally the most valuable commodity in Frogtown! For a b-movie the acting isn’t half bad though much of the dialog is corny (in a good way).

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"So, when are you gonna take that top off?
After all, this is the '80s."
Although it’s a low budget film, the make-up effects for the mutant frog people are outstanding with animatronics used for the facial expressions. It’s almost up to Jim Henson film standards, and makes the film way more fun to watch. For the most part the mood is lighthearted and there are a lot of slapstick jokes and frog puns thrown around. Of course, all the women in the movie are half-naked for no reason, but you can’t have a b-movie without gratuitous nudity, now can you?! 

Hell Comes to Frogtown hails from an era where the good guys were cocky, the women were topless and the bad guys were ridiculous. While these kind of “values” don’t fly in today’s climate, it’s still a blast to have a few drinks and pop in one of these (subjectively) terrible time capsules. If you can’t get enough of Frogtown, there was a sequel that came out in 1993 entitled Return to Frogtown—by then the original cast of the first film had moved on to greener pastures and none of them make an appearance. At any rate, Hell Comes to Frogtown is a decent flick, warts and all.


-Michelle Kisner