Arrow Video Vault: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

The 80s cult-hit makes it grand return to UK shores this week with a high-definition upgrade, and there’s never been a better time to buy into its cheap-o obscurity.

A mere matter of months before the late wrestler-turned-action-star “Rowdy” Roddy Piper cemented himself as an absolute cult hero, battling aliens in John Carpenter’s They Live, he starred opposite a bunch of frog mutants in a terrifically schlocky Mad Max rip-off with one of the greatest titles in genre movie history.

Hell Comes to Frogtown finds Piper (who modern audiences will most likely know better as It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s The Maniac) in true badass form as post-apocalyptic drifter Sam Hell. Much like a certain Mr Rockatansky, he soon finds himself drawn into rescuing a squad of warrior-nurses, albeit here they’ve been captured by evil amphibians and are being kept as sex slaves. Which I guess, makes perfect sense in the world of Frogtown.

It’s fairly standard B-movie fare on the surface, but directors Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer really excel in finding ways to make this shit memorable.

The man-sized mutant frogs, the film’s core sex-craved villains, come fully clad in ridiculous rubber suits (think cheaper, early-90s live-action Ninja Turtles, but with multiple penises), whilst Piper’s hero only really saves the day because his balls are hardwired to a shock device that threatens to mutilate them if he wanders too far.

Throw in what is quite possibly the most bizarre attempt at sexualised ballet ever recorded on film, in the infamous ‘Dance of the Three Snakes’ sequence, and what we have is a bonafide cult-classic on our hands. And whilst its similarity to parts of the earlier Road Warrior, and its apocalyptic, desert-land setting might mean it initially feels a little too familiar, trust me when I say that by the end, you’ll realise there’s nothing quite like Frogtown.

This reissued blu-ray upgrade (a second batch from an initial limited edition) courtesy of the fine folks at Arrow Video doesn’t really add any extra unseen bits or pieces, like some of their other cult retreads, but it does give another undervalued 80s trash classic the HD treatment. And whilst it’s not quite a 4K restoration, the picture quality is a ridiculously huge improvement, making this easily the most definitive version of the film out there.

Fans of old-school nonsense rejoice, it doesn’t get much sillier, dodgier or even froggier than this.

Hell Comes to Frogtown is available on Blu-ray in the UK now.

Posted on The National Student.

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