Hell Comes to Frogtown Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)
A hearty tortoise and lizard stew
Hell Comes to Frogtown is a ribbeting - I mean riveting - action adventure in the vein of Mad Max and Escape from New York, but with a lot of creativity and male fantasy. This Blu-ray one-ups Arrow Video's and is worth an upgrade.
Directors Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer’s Hell Comes to Frogtown seems like it should be an inferior rip-off of Mad Max, Indiana Jones, and Escape from New York all tied into one film. The post-apocalyptic wasteland of its setting and the inclusion of a very Snake Plissken-esque Rowdy Roddy Piper immediately sounds the horn for yet another copycat riding on the coattails of more successful films, but ultimately the film’s script from Jackson and Randall Frakes manages to cram enough weird (and definitely male fantasy-oriented) ideas into this familiar tale to navigate away from presenting something akin to Exterminators of the Year 3000 – not just a copy/paste of the source material.
The film follows Piper’s character, the legendary Sam Hell, after an apocalyptic war leaves much of the world ravaged beyond repair and almost every female sterile. Women have banded together to form Med Tech, an organization that is attempting to repopulate the earth by finding suitable male candidates to impregnate virile women. Unfortunately, the group is also targeted by mutated frog creatures that capture these women and force them into Frogtown harems. Cue Sam Hell to the rescue, forced to tag along with Nurse Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) and Centinella (Cec Verrell) as they infiltrate Frogtown and take down Commander Toty (Brian Frank).
As stated before, Hell Comes to Frogtown is all sorts of male fantasy. It’s a film that recognizes that it has a ridiculous premise, and it plays that up for laughs. Throughout, you’ll see multiple women throwing themselves at Sam Hell, to the point where he becomes exhausted with the thought of all the sex he has to have. There’s a questionable moment where Nurse Spangle drugs a nubile woman with something akin to ecstasy so she’ll settle down and allow Sam to impregnate her. There’s a number of scenes where Sam leads Spangle on a BDSM-influenced leash throughout Frogtown. There are frog harems, an orgiastic scene where Spangle is aroused by a group of women, and frogwoman who wants to lay Sam. All of this, of course, plays out in the most tongue-in-cheek way possible, with Piper doing his damnedest to look fed up with the whole thing, moping in the face of something that would stoke most men’s fragile egos.
The movie is obviously a lot of fun, and it has a great mix of MadMax‘s wasteland car cruising, Escape from New York‘s action set pieces, and creativity galore. The frog creature designs are mostly very good, with Commander Toty being the most fleshed out – and massive – of the bunch. For those fans of the aforementioned films or any adventure set piece or even films like The Dark Crystal, Hell Comes to Frogtown will be another great movie to add to your watchlist.
NSFW screenshots from this Blu-ray release.
Arrow Video previously released Hell Comes to Frogtown on Blu-ray back in 2014 with an unspecified HD transfer; in 2019, Vinegar Syndrome has released the film to Blu-ray again, this time with a 4k scan of the 35mm interpositive. The results are certainly quite good, with a bit more detail and definition added to the picture as well as a lot more sharp colors. The Arrow Video release tended to have a lighter, more washed-out look to it, something that Vinegar Syndrome rectifies with the color contrast on this release; you’ll also notice a bit more green hues especially in Frogtown, which makes sense from a contextual standpoint. Darker scenes are definitely more veiled than the previous Arrow release as well. At times, grain can be a bit thick – like the first scene as Sam is being interrogated – but overall Vinegar Syndrome has done a great job improving on Arrow Video’s scan, and I would say this is worth an upgrade.
Audio comes with both the original DTS-HD 1.0 mono track and a remastered DTS-HD 2.0 stereo track – both sound great with no real flaws, and it’s truly a toss-up on which track you should use when watching the film. I watched with the original mono and had no issues, and the stereo was similarly good with a bit more impact. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Subtitles are also included.
Vinegar Syndrome has managed to get one new extra for the release of this Blu-ray. They include a lengthy 55-minute interview with Frakes who breaks down just about the entire production of the movie, from scriptwriting to the sequel to his written but not produced third entry. Also included are all the extras on the Arrow release including interviews with Roddy Piper, Brian Frank, and Steve Wang, along with a rough alternate sequence of the opening of the film and theatrical trailer and an audio commentary from Donald G. Jackson and Randall Frakes. This also comes with DVD version and reversible cover artwork.
NEW 4k scan of the 35mm interpositive
NEW Interview with Randall Frakes (HD; 55:43)
NEW Reversible cover art
Audio commentary with Donald G. Jackson and Randall Frakes
Interview with Rowdy Roddy Piper (HD; 22:16)
Interview with Brian Frank (HD; 14:10)
Interview with Steve Wang (HD; 15:30)
Alternate scene (SD; 2:31)
Original theatrical trailer (SD; 1:52)
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