Frogs (1972)

Directed by George McCowan

Written by …

Run Time: 91 minutes

Frogs might be loosely considered an “eco-horror” disaster film. It can be considered as having the most misleading promotional poster of all time.

Here, take a good look:

With that in mind, allow me to point out a couple of things about this move:

1) The frogs are NORMAL size.
2) Nobody is killed by a frog during the entire movie!

Now for a quick pop quiz:

The only animals in the movie “Frogs” that DON’T kill anybody are ____________.

(Hint: It’s the title of this movie)

Open to a young man canoeing down a calm river taking wildlife pictures…frogs, birds, snakes, not exactly National Geographic quality stuff, but it sets the mood for the scene. This rugged photographer, Pickett Smith (played by a young Sam Elliot, yes, that guy), soon finds himself out on a lake where a couple of drunk rich kids nearly plow into him with their speed boat causing him to capsize and lose all of his equipment in the water. Ha ha. Turns out that this pair of knuckle-heads are Clint and Karen Crockett, children of the local rich Southern gent, Jason Crockett (played by screen veteran Ray Milland). Feeling a little guilty for nearly smearing Picket’s ass all over the lake, they invite him back to the family estate for some dry clothes and a bit of good-ole Southern Hospitality. (Clint laughs and says he’ll reimburse Pickett for the camera, but what about all of the photographs he took for the project he was working on?!)

Upon arrival at the grandiose Crockett Estate, Clint introduces Pickett to gruff, grumpy Grandpa Jason Crockett, who is openly suspicious as to just why Pickett has been taking pictures of the island all day. (Ahhh…isn’t that cute how everybody’s name has to end with two “T”s? It’s just so…Southern!)

Good old Grandpa

Ahhh, of course: a quick throwaway scene reveals that the phone’s dead. How? Frogs? Well, ok, they’re isolated now. Go ahead and check that box off the list of required plot points.

Moving right along, we discover that today is the 4th of July and Grandpa Crockett’s birthday (of course). The entire family is in attendance, including his precocious grand kids. (uh oh)

Despite the “festivities” (i.e., people sitting in the sultry sun solemnly sipping lemonade), Grandpa feels compelled to complain about the recent increase in the frog population and all their croaking which keeps him up at night. (Then don’t live in a swamp, idiot.)

When Grandpa finds out that Pickett is an “ecological expert”, he encourages him to walk around the island and give his opinion of the state of things…oh, and keep an eye out for the handyman, Grover, who went out earlier to spray poison and hasn’t come home yet. (uh oh)

Pickett’s lovely tour quickly turns up scads of dead animals and empty poison cans, so it sure looks like Grover’s been busy. Oh, but not too far away lies Grover covered in (harmless) snakes and frogs. Oh, the irony. I think.

OK, I’ve spared us a lot of pain by skipping a bunch of pointless, plodding dialog to take us to the fun part of the movie: the point in the story when characters wander off one-by-one to be killed by various swamp denizens:

Good times

Generic Blonde Guy (please don’t make me look up his name on IMDB…I really don’t care) goes out into the woods and starts shooting snakes (!), but somehow ends up shooting himself in the leg. (Idiot!) With this dummy now immobilized on the ground, tarantulas (which definitely do not live in wet environments, but they’re hairy and “gross” so they had to use them) gang up on him and cover him in webs (Spanish moss!) and that’s the end of that snake-shooting SOB.

Spiders weave webs of Spanish Moss?

Stupid Character #2, Kenneth (I looked up his name, you’re welcome), the sensitive type, strolls to the greenhouse to cut flowers for the dinner table. Unbeknownst to him, a couple of lizards sneak in the door, climb up a tall shelf, and push jars of poison onto the ground…the fumes quickly overwhelm Kenneth who expires among the greenery. Sigh. I feel it’s pointless to ask how a lizard could possibly know how to kill somebody in this manner, so I won’t ask. (Or even how a lizard could know anything.)

Gotcha!

So yeah, upon discovering Kenneth’s body in the greenhouse, everybody decides to move inside because, you know, the party’s pretty much ruined now. (In a symbolic gesture, an off-camera stagehand tosses a fat frog onto the birthday cake.) Since the phones are still out (double sigh), they’ll just have to sit tight until…what? The next day? Next week? What if the phones are still out? Can’t somebody just take a boat to the mainland?

Meanwhile, batty old Aunt Iris heads off into the swamp to hunt for butterflies. (!) Naturally, snakes and other slimy things start hissing and lunging at her, scaring her deeper into the bush. After copious screaming and tumbling, she finally falls into a puddle, is covered by leeches and succumbs to…fear or something. Nothing really makes any sense…the story is on total auto-pilot at this point.

Iris having a bad day

The other two rich kids, I think the ones from the beginning of the movie, but seriously, these characters are so generic it’s hard to tell, and there’s far too many of them with far too little development. Ok, where was I…oh yeah, the guy is killed by a rubber snake and the girl, and I’m not kidding here, gets her foot stuck in the mud and is taken down by a turtle!

Yes, killed by a turtle…how embarrassing

Ok, back at his frog-infested manor, Grandpa stubbornly refuses to leave..because nothing is going to interfere with his traditional birthday celebration…Damn the frogs! Full speed ahead!

Pickett hints to the old man that this ‘animal revolution’ might be taking place over the entire world (which would have made a way cooler movie), but it’s not mentioned again. It’s also not mentioned how he knows this. It’s that type of movie, in case you haven’t noticed by now.

Clint and the family’s hired help, however, have decided to get the hell out of there, and they load into the speed boat and motor off to the other side of the river. When they reach the mainland, which is mysteriously devoid of people (uh oh), superimposed birds attack the few remaining throw-away characters and dispose of them in a flurry of squawks and feathers. (Like anybody cares at this point, but still, what the hell did the maid and butler do to deserve this?)

Coming to the end now, I promise…

Pickett and Jenny also decide to bail and hop into a convenient canoe, taking along with them the Crockett grandkids (who are now orphans since their parents were just killed by snakes and alligators! Which makes me ask why they were in the film at all? Just to be orphaned?) …crotchety Grandpa insists on staying behind and seeing things out to the bitter end. Good luck with that.

As night falls, the electricity cuts out (why?…frog electricians?) and Grandpa sits alone in his wheelchair as waves of frenetic frogs fill the house. As the croaking reaches a crescendo, he collapses onto the floor and passes away…from a heart attack! The frogs didn’t even kill HIM!!! Frogs haven’t killed anybody!

(By the way, why didn’t the old man’s dog take part in the revolution? Did it die in the house as well? Oh, the questions, the questions…)

The exciting conclusion to Frogs

The End (ribbit)

Dennis Grisbeck (May 2017)

Afterthoughts

About the only positive thing with this movie is the gorgeous scenery. The brief shots of the swamp and its wildlife were surprisingly well done. In fact, I bet the lion’s share of the budget was used filming the natural settings around the house where this was filmed.

On the other hand, it’s hard to forgive the misleading poster, but it’s certain that the artwork was completed before work began on the film. But still, even if the frogs were normal size, they could have at least killed Grandpa!

All in all, Frogs is a pretty dreary paint-by-the-numbers affair. Every creepy-crawly from the Standard List of Creepy Crawlies makes an appearance and kills a hapless character in some hilarious manner. Honestly, it’s these animal-killing-people scenes that make the movie worth watching at all. Otherwise, it’s a pretty forgettable production which is why hardly anybody knows Frogs even exists.

Read more about Frogs at

IMDB

Thanks for reading

5 comments to Frogs (1972)

  • Joseph

    It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie and since I like cheese anyway, to me it wasn’t bad. The poster which is cool was misleading. I wish it was about giant frogs eating people. Now I have to look for it on YouTube. Great review.

  • Growing up in the 70’s, I was sooooooo disappointed that there were no giant frogs eating Ray Milland.

    Then later, I saw “Night of the Lepus,” with giant bunnies eating DeForest Kelley, and I realized, yeah, “Frogs” could’ve been worse.

  • guts3d

    Excellent cheese fest! This looks like it was tough to sit through once, much less multiple times! Nice pics as well!

  • As mentioned, I could have forgiven this movie a bit more if the frogs were AT LEAST larger than normal size, like, even frogs the size of dogs would have been cool.

  • Guts3d

    “Frog-Zilla”? That would be cool!

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