Saturday, November 26, 2011

Monster Crap: Frogs (1972)

Monster Crap Inductee: Frogs
Should Be Called Everything But The Frogs

1972

Well, it’s time for another nature-spoitation where filmmakers use a real life problem as a way to make a monster with the reason for the monsters is humans are complete dumbasses. In the past we have had so many that I really can’t keep count. But one thing we have never had is a “When Nature Strikes Back” film, which is a film showing that because of what asshole people…….creatures (not enlarged like usual) decide that they are going to kill us. Unfortunately, one of the reasons why is because like it or not, there aren’t that many out there. In fact there is very few of those that I actually know of and one of the biggest problems with those is for the most part………..they are boring. The only one I know that without a shadow of a doubt is good………is a little Australian film called Long Weekend.

The film we are doing today is probably one of the most well known of those types of films in Frogs. And probably one of the reasons it is well known is because of the two leads. You have Ray Milland who won an Oscar for his role in The Lost Weekend. You had Sam Elliot, who at the time was well known for being in the hit TV series Mission: Impossible. So you had a decent cast……….unfortunately, you didn’t have an interesting story so let’s get to this very boring film.

We begin this movie with Pickett Smith rowing through the swamps, taking photographs of the wildlife there.

Of course every time he takes a photo, a new part of the opening credits appear.

By The Third Picture, We Get Our Opening Title Card, Along With A Huge Close-Up Of A Frog (Or Toad, As You Will Learn Later)

We also have Pickett taking a few pictures of some trash that some asshole threw there.

I Think I May Need To Go To The Hospital With How Many Times This Film Has Already Tried To Hammer In Me That “We Are Bad For Polluting The Earth”

Lord Knows I Suffered Enough Pollution Related Abuse From Captain Planet

Anyway, we go out to the lake where we see Clint and Karen Crockett on a speed boat. Clint is driving the boat while drunk so Of course they run into Pickett and knock him off his boat. Clint tries to apologize, but Pickett throws him off the boat as a way of payback. Of course, Clint also gets back on the boat and we have a scene where Karen offers to take Pickett back to the house to get a fresh batch of clothes.

We Also Learn That Clint And Karen Are Brothers.

Pickett mentions that he lost valuable equipment and they apologize for that too. We then meet the rest of the men in the family.

The Wheelchair Bound Father Of Clint And Karen Named Jason Crockett, Along With Jason’s Nephew Michael Martindale

Michael’s Father And Jason’s Brother-In-Law Stuart Martindale

Jason has Stuart meet the three coming in half way so he can figure out what is going on. During this scene, you immediately notice that some of so called frogs look different from others.

That’s Because Some Are Bullfrogs And Some Are Cane Toads. That’s Right………..This Movie Does Not Know The Difference Between A Frog And A Toad.

Oh and get used to a lot of croaking in this movie as it rarely stops. Jason tells Pickett that he noticed him out in the swamp and tells him that this is private property, for which he has been intruding on. Pickett said he didn’t see the sign that said Private Property and reveals that he is a free-lance photographer and is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. They then hint that they sent a guy named Grover out to look into the endless croaking of the frogs and he has not returned yet.

Well Of Course He Isn’t Back Yet……..Grover Is Hanging Out With The Rest Of His Sesame Street Friends.

Inside the house that is a mansion, Pickett tries to call his editor, but strangely the phone is not working right now. While talking about the phone being out, we are then introduced to Clint’s wife, Jenny

Karen then introduces Pickett to her aunt and Jason’s sister Iris and the rest of the family, including Stuart's other son Ken and his black girlfriend, Bella Garrington

And if you are expecting a Bella Swann joke, you can forget it because I would like to forget I ever had to watch New Moon. We also learn that Iris has a huge obsession with catching and collecting butterflies. Meanwhile while the two men are cleaning up, Clint shows Pickett his trophies he collected while being a college athlete. More time with the frogs is spent and then we see Ken taking pictures of Bella, who is posing for the camera. They are interrupted by the servant Charles, who tells the two of them that Jason wishes them to show up for the scheduled picnic.

Yes, the patriarch of this family Jason is very testy about scheduling. At the picnic, Jason is upset that Clint and Jenny’s kids are 12 minutes late. Finally the kids show up and their names are Jay and Tina.

Hmm……..The Son’s Name Is Jay, I Might Have To Root For That Kid’s Survival.

Anyway, Jay reveals that he caught a giant bullfrog and when he shows it to the family, they freak out and Michael throws the frog away from the area. Jason tells the kids to sit at the table, but not before agreeing with Jay that it was a huge bullfrog. Jason then talks to Pickett about the strange number of frogs in the area recently and their croaking not stopping. Pickett tries to say that it might be just one of those summers where they overpopulate and says that they will die out in a year. Jason reveals that his family is impatient and he wants to get rid of the frogs now. Stuart suggests pouring oil into the area and try to choke them off, but Pickett says that doing that will also hurt the rest of the wildlife as well. Jason also adds that it will make his home smell like a refinery so the answer to that suggestion is no. Jason then tells Pickett to do him a favor and look around so he can get an honest report of the area so they can find a way to deal with the noise. He also asks him to see if he can find Grover as he should have been back by now.

Pickett starts looking over the area and he comes across two dead frogs which were supposedly killed by a poison spray.

Just In Case The Opening Segment Didn’t Tell You Enough How Bad These Polluters Are

We also see a dead lizard, a dead snake, a dead bird and hell, even a dead centipede. However, Pickett also ends up finding an abandoned jeep that is supposedly Grover’s.

And We Find Grover Dead As Well

By the way to the actor who played Grover, playing dead isn’t as easy as you make it out to be because playing dead doesn’t mean you can still breathe and….

And You Don’t Open Your Eyes……….

That night, Bella has a drink with the maid of the house, Maybelle.

We May Need All The Alcohol We Can Drink To Get Through This Movie

Back at the dinner scene, we learn that Bella can design dresses, the frogs are still annoying, and the Crocketts are having issues paying more taxes. Privately, Pickett lets Jason know that he found Grover dead. Jason is glad Pickett told him first and explains to him how it is important at this time to not tell the others. Jason explains that this week with his family is the one permanent thing he has left. He mentions how it is the 4th of July and the Crocketts have 4 birthdays in July so since most of them live elsewhere, they celebrate all of their birthdays by spending one week together. He says it is tradition and that he plans to celebrate this same thing for years, at this very same house. When they talk about what to do about the body, they notice the frogs (and toads) trying to get into the house.

Let Us In…………..We Want To Celebrate Too….

They then hear screams and they find a snake hanging on the chandelier.

Jason comes in with a revolver and he shoots the snake dead.

Jason then has Charles throw it outside. Jason then has everyone sit at the table and eat. Later, Pickett tells Jason that something strange is going on with the animals. Jason tells Pickett that he isn’t too bothered by what is going on and he can get the state to spray the area with pesticide. When our photographer is against this idea because it will kill a lot of other animals to, Jason shows his uncaring side by saying that he believes man is master of the world. When Pickett asks if that means man can’t live in harmony with nature, Jason responds by asking if he actually thinks that racket out there is harmonious. Pickett then throws out the idea that nature might be trying to get back at humans for all the woes we have caused, which Jason says is nonsense. Pickett finally asks how do you explain what is going on, Jason responds that they just sit and wait.

In the bedroom, Jenny is complaining about her issues with the family and thinking that the family doesn’t like her. Jenny also complains about her husband drinking in that speedboat all day and all night. Clint tries to calm her down that it is only a couple of weeks a year. Clint also says that Jason doesn’t have that long to live and that means a million dollars more to him so if they play their cards right, they might inherit a lot of profit. At the small man-made pond, Karen and Pickett talk about what is going on.

The next day, the kids decide to be jerks and set up some firecrackers which scare the animals. Iris decides to start chasing butterflies with her net. We also see a setting up of a relationship between Pickett and Karen. Clint decides to play pillow fight on a log with Michael, much to Michael’s reluctance, and of course Clint beats him. Pickett shows up and asks if he can do a little more reconnaissance of the island, maybe check the phone lines. However, Jason has Michael check out the phone lines instead. Michael takes a rifle with him and a toolbox. While driving around, Michael then notices a bird and decides to shoot it down with his rifle.

Michael decides to run towards what he shot and trips over a branch, shooting his own leg in the process.

Now I’m no doctor and all, but that looks to me to be not bad enough that you can’t limp it off and get back to the house. But of course in this world, that means you can’t freaking move at all. The situation is further compounded by spiders that drop moss on Michael, and it makes it even harder for Michael to move. Eventually one of the spiders drops onto Michael, and bites him……..which results in immediate death. Afterwards, the spiders shoot out web to cover up his body.

Now, as you can imagine…………once again, I don’t have super intelligence on these issues, but I do know a few things. One…..that gunshot wound to the lower leg does not paralyze a person so he can crawl or maybe limp his way back to the vehicle. Two…..you can’t be grounded by moss no matter how thick it is. Three…..I believe those spiders are tarantulas and a bite from a tarantula can’t kill you. The best those bites can do his cause you to have spasms for several days.

*Listens in*

Wait, I am being told those are American Funnel Web spiders and those spiders can kill you within 15 minutes so nevermind.

Four…….no spider can make webs that quickly. So yeah, you can imagine me saying this death scene is stupid as hell. Oh and this is the first on screen death scene………………45 minutes into a 91 minute movie. You could imagine most people who aren’t as patient or have no reason to continue with this film would have quit watching this film before even the first death occurred. But let’s move on……….shall we?

Back at the mansion, Iris is talking to Ken about the plans and asks him to go into the greenhouse to get some orchids. Her conversation is cut short when she sees a butterfly that is not part of her collection so she grabs her net and chases after it. Meanwhile, Clint wants to have another match with Ken, but Ken refuses………despite persistence from Stuart. Back in the woods, we see Iris with her net trying to find the butterfly she saw. Ken enters the greenhouse and we see all types of lizards enter like anoles, geckos, and even monitor lizards.

Including One Monitor Lizard That Can Close Doors

Jason wants to start the party games, but Michael, Iris, and Ken are all missing. He sends Stuart to search for Iris and Karen to go back inside the house to see if Ken has come back. If he has, he tells Karen to tell Ken to get his ass out here. Back at the greenhouse, the lizards start knocking over some canisters, including those with poison in them.

Ken then decides to go check for what the gas is and of course starts coughing. Instead of I don’t know………holding his breath or covering his mouth and nose with his shirt and head for the exit. Ken just stays in the greenhouse and ends up suffocating on the poison gas.

Oh And By The Way, All Those Lizards Should Start Suffocating As Well Since Poison Gas Can Kill Them Too

Yep, nature is in fact striking back……….but only because the Crocketts are the biggest bunch of idiots known to man. Pickett goes to check the greenhouse and finds Ken dead with lizards on him. Here is the problem, the door was never opened until Pickett opened it and when Ken was dying, the home greenhouse was covered in poison so naturally, there still should be gas coming out of the place. But no, when Pickett opens the door…………the place is clear.

Plus The Only Thing That Died Of The Poisonous Gas Was Ken As All Of The Lizards Are Still Alive
Pickett tells everyone that Ken is dead, when everyone hears of the news………they decide to go inside and not have the party games.

We also get some symbolism with the frogs (and toads) hoping all over the party table.

The idiocy continues as Iris starts almost chokes herself with a small piece of moss that she walked right into.

I Really Wish I Was Making This Shit Up

But she takes the moss off and continues going until she meets some snakes. I should add that this woman is so stupid that instead of going back where she came, she goes another way and gets herself deeper in the woods……….to the point that she is basically surrounded by snakes. She also drops her net which is right next to a rattlesnake. This scene takes a while as she goes through bushes, falls in water, and gets some leeches on her. She finally gets back to where her net is and where the rattlesnake is. Now the normal thing to do is say screw the net and just try to escape. But because we have idiots here, she goes to try and pick up the net. Surprise, surprise………….she gets bit by the rattlesnake and falls dead.

Now the problem with falling over dead within seconds is no rattlesnake’s venom can kill you within seconds. At the least, it takes a few minutes to die from a bite. I hate to keep deconstructing how stupid these deaths are, but with a film so boring as this…….you are forced to find faults to keep yourself entertained.

Oh and by the way, this was their second choice of how to kill Iris. Originally they wanted to kill Iris by having her drown in quicksand as she was trying to catch butterflies, but when it was shot......that scene was deemed too silly so they chose this. You can kind of see parts of the scene of her drowning in quicksand in the trailer. It is also shown in the poster I showed you.

Stuart then is neck as he stumbles into a swamp and gets attacked by an alligator. He dies, but that is not the problem with this scene as if you look very closely, you can see some black tape near the alligators mouth.

That’s Right Folks, He Is Being Killed By An Alligator Who Can’t Open His Jaws To Actually Kill Him.

There is a reason most movies use fake alligators for the attack scenes, even the really low budget ones that make the fake alligators look like jokes. It’s because its more believable to be killed by a fake alligator than by a real alligator that can’t open its freaking jaws……..the instrument it uses to kill you.

Back at the mansion, several people want to leave because of Ken’s death; however Jason is steadfast in keeping the party going. Jason then tells people that just because of one death, the party is not going to stop. Pickett comes in and corrects Jason about it being two deaths as he reveals that Grover was also killed because and I quote Pickett here “he was hit by a snake”. Now I know someone is going to say “don’t you mean ‘bit’?” Well, I have gone back so many times and he definitely said “he was hit by a snake”. So apparently according to Mr. Smith, snakes can commit hit and runs.

I Guess That Is How Snakes Roll

Anyway, the rest of the family wonders why they didn’t know about this and Jason responds that he didn’t feel it necessary for the family to know. Jason forbids anyone to leave the island and of course Bella, Maybelle, and Charles disagree. Jason tells Clint to escort them off the island since they want to leave. Clint does so and notices that no one is even at the docks and that meat is cooking on the grill with no one around. Clint then tries to get back to the boat, but notices that the line holding the boat has been cut and the boat is now in the middle of the lake.

Back at the house, Jason wants something to eat and when Karen asks what he wants, he states that he wants what was scheduled on the menu. Yes……..senile old man in a wheelchair is still stubborn about his damn party. Maybe I am not old enough to understand, but I think in a situation that you are not prepared for………..you have to be flexible. Jenny takes some binoculars and decides to see what is taking Clint so long to get back.

Clint tries to use another boat to get back, but it won’t start as it needs the keys to start the ignition. Clint then decides to swim for the boat, and here is where we have one of the most logical deaths where there may be some stupidity……..but not as much as the others. No other boat is nearby and trying to paddle your way with the big boat will also leave you open for attack as well. Now here is where the stupid happens, he gets bit once but reaches the boat. However, he decides to not immediately jump into the boat and stays in the water for a few more seconds which causes him to get bit a second time and at that point, he is dead by poison or drowning.

Should Have Immediately Gotten On The Boat, Dumbass

Now how I would have done this scene is he gets bitten once, then gets to the boat, gets on, and is immediately bitten by a snake that just so happened to be on the boat. Clint tries to boat back to the island, but the venom kills him before he can get there. He may still die, but his character will be made to be a character we can get behind and be sad that he died.

Of course the stupidity trumps that death as Jenny decides to go into the water after him. However, she doesn’t get very far before her feet are stuck in the mud near the shore. Then a snapping turtle shows up and you can presume it kills her.

Now, I am no scientist here………..but the only way a snapping turtle can actually kill someone is if they keep chomping on the legs until the victim falls over and then it has two options: it goes for the jugular or drags her head into the water and drown her. Yeah, this movie is getting to me when I am trying to make sense of how these animals kill their victims. But the bigger point is this. We have seen snakes, lizards, spiders, and hell……..ever freaking turtles kill people, but we have not seen one frog (or toad) kill someone. And this movie is called Frogs. And if you look at the cover, it has a frog with a human arm in its mouth. Really false advertising here, guys. I haven’t seen this much false advertising in a poster since………..

Yeah………..That Film

Although in this movie’s defense…….there are actual frogs in it while in Chopping Mall, there is no mechanical claw like that in it. So I guess Frogs gets a small victory.

Back at the house, Pickett gets some gasoline so he can ward off the frogs on the porch. However when Pickett gets on the porch, the frogs are all gone. The kids are inside now and are wondering where their parents are. Karen tries to calm the kids down by saying that their dad hasn’t come back from the lake and their mother just went outside. Pickett tells Karen that he did not see Jenny out there, which causes Tina to run looking for her. The two adults chase after the little girl and then they see the boat. Pickett says that the abandoned boat settles it and they are leaving. After that, we get some horrible line reading from the little girl who looks like the actress would rather be anywhere else but shooting this movie.

Tina: Where Are They, Karen? Why Isn’t Daddy In The Boat?

Pickett comes inside and tells Jason that they are all leaving, but Jason will have none of it as he says “The Crocketts Are Staying”. They try to reason with the old man, but he will have none of it. He then tells Karen that if they want to leave…then leave, but he will be staying. The kids and Karen get prepared to leave as Pickett asks Jason if he will be alright. Jason snidely asks if Pickett is actually concerned about him and tells Pickett that he will be fine. Pickett asks if he can take a shotgun and Jason says he can take any he likes, but don’t bring it back.

They all start leaving and Karen tries one more time to get Jason to come with them, but the old man won’t even look at them anymore. Karen then tells the kids to race to the canoe, but watch out for the frogs. Here I would like to ask one simple question: Why? Why should we watch out for the frogs when they have done absolutely nothing to warrant any fear? In fact, a better statement would be for them to watch out for anything moving except the frogs.

When the escape party gets to the shore, they find Jenny’s body with crabs picking at the remains.

Yes, Even Crabs Get On The Fun Of Doing More Than The Frogs.

They mourn over her loss for a minute before they get on the canoe and paddle off. They get a few yards before the boat hits a snag. Pickett decides to take his shirt off and go in the water to get them out.

Did I Mention That The Two Moments Of Sam Elliot Shirtless In This Film Was The Reason He Got The Lead Role In Lifeguard?

We have a close call where a snake tries to kill Pickett, but Pickett throws it away before it can even bite him. He gets the boat off of the snag, gets back on the boat before anything can attack him, and they continue on their way towards the mainland. They get to the docks and they also notice the place has been abandoned. They also see that the messed up luggage of Bella, Maybelle, and Charles, which signifies that they met a cruel end. So yes, along with the stupid deaths, we also have plenty of deaths that are implied to have happened off-screen.

They get on what seems like an abandoned road and as luck would have it, a car actually stops by to pick them up.


The driver of the car also has a kid and they talk about how they haven’t seen anyone in miles and have saw and brought with them……….

A FROG (Actually A Toad)!!!! *Cue Dramatic Music*

Now normally a movie would end after that little note, but this movie is different. It decides to tell us what happened to Jason. He quiets down his dog and the phone rings, when he answers it…..he gets no answer. He even explains that there can’t be any phone issues as the damn thing rang. So I am to assume here that the frogs just called him and hung up.

Tremble As The Frogs Make Prank Phone Calls!!!

The frogs break into the house and start jumping on our wheelchair bound curmudgeon. With the site of the frogs and thinking that all the trophies of dead animals he has, are looking at him……….Jason suffers a heart attack and dies.  

What Happens To The Dog……………….We Will Never Know

And mercifully our movie ends.

Now there is not much knowledge on how this movie did in the box office, but as far as critics go………..this movie received almost universally negative reviews. Now Ray Milland would still have 13 more years of acting left in his life before dying in 1986, but he didn’t have really any film of note and as he got older, the roles he got were smaller and smaller. Joan Van Ark (who played Karen) would go on to basically be a mainstay in TV with big roles in the TV series Knot’s Landing and in the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Adam Roarke (who played Clint) would do a lot of films as a biker before his death in 1996. Judy Pace (who played Bella) did a lot of Blaxploitation films and was one of the leading ladies in that genre.

But the main aftermath would be done by one Sam Elliott. As you may be aware, I am sure Sam has no regrets about doing this film as this film landed him a lead role in a film called Lifeguard and has become one of Hollywood’s more recognizable actors with his voice (although his signature mustache would come much later). In 1984, he married Katherine Ross and they are still married as well as have a daughter.

Katherine Ross Was Very Attractive Back In Her Day

So we have a rarity in the films I induct in that a film just did nothing to harm the actor’s career, but may have instead been a very good stepping stone to a huge career in Hollywood. Even for a guy like myself who ridicules movies for this site, it is very heartwarming for me to see that even bad movies can help an actor’s career.

This film also had a bunch of issues. Many of the frogs and toads that were filmed in this movie actually escaped during production. Also add that with the fact that the Holiday Inn they were using refused to take in the poisonous snakes, spiders, and black scorpions they had (because what hotel would allow you to have a dangerous animal). I wonder how that conversation went.

Film Crew: Hey Holiday Inn, can you allow us to keep our pets that we are filming in your hotel.
Holiday Inn Employee: We are pet friendly so I'm sure we could help you. What kind of pets do you have?
Film Crew: Poisonous snakes, spiders, and black scorpions.
Holiday Inn Employee: Seriously???
Film Crew: Yeah
Holiday Inn Employee: Then Hell NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I guess it is time for my thoughts on the film. Despite very good acting jobs done by both Ray Milland and Sam Elliott, this movie is very boring. Hell, all the jokes that I made during the film were to keep myself from falling asleep. Besides the two leads, everyone else in this film……..is just there to be either picked off or to waste space. The deaths are ridiculous as all hell and the errors are too obvious to not mention.

But the biggest crime to this film is the so called villains. For a movie that says we are getting killer frogs, we do not get killer frogs. Instead the frogs are just annoying and are just wasting space. I wasn’t kidding when I said this movie should be titles Everything But Frogs as at least everything else actually do something to cause someone’s death and not count on an old man to get a heart attack, and even with that they get help from the man imagining that all of his trophies have come back to life and are looking down on him (including a fish that makes…..dolphin noises?). If you want to watch films of nature getting back at mankind for all of the wrongs we have committed, I would recommend watch The Long Weekend or at the very least Day of the Animals (done by Grizzly director William Girdler) because those are better films than this.

Now it’s time for my Randomizer to decide what my next induction is and………well, it seems for the rare moment, the Randomizer has spit out two films. Well, time for me to use the other function of the Randomizer called the Randomater which is to randomly select which film is next. I will be inducting both films, but one will be inducted and due to January’s GINO Award, the next will be in February. So let’s see which film won the Randomizer Randomator.

It’s One Of The Worst Remakes Of All Time To Hit Theaters.

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