Uncovering Curiosities: Donald G. Jackson & R.J. Kizer’s HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN

Hell Comes To Frogtown is a cult 1988 straight-to-video actioner starring wrestler (Rowdy) Roddy Piper. Is it high art? No, far from it – but it is an enjoyable slice of ‘80s cheese.

Piper plays Sam Hell, a bad-ass wandering the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic earth (is there another other kind?), where survivors scavenge and hide from a race of mutated frog people (hence the title). Sam not only packs serious firepower, but he’s also packing a seriously high sperm count – something few men have in this desolate future. Hell’s ‘package’ is impounded by the provisional government (with the help of Sandahl Bergman’s Spangle and Cec Verrell’s Centinella). Sam is then charged with breaking into Frogtown to rescue a group of ladies, held captive by the evil Commander Toty (Brian Frank).

Hell Comes T o Frogtown plays like a cut-rate Escape From New York by way of Planet Of The Apes. The late Roddy Piper is no Kurt Russell or Charlton Heston, but he has enough screen presence to make this live-action cartoon work. He made this the same year as John Carpenter’s They Live and I’ll let you guess which one holds up today. The effects in Hell Comes To Frogtown are decent in an old-school practical way and the film doesn’t take itself too seriously (how could it?).

Co-directed by Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer (Jackson was sidelined when the budget went up), Hell Comes To Frogtown was written by Jackson and Randall Frakes – an old friend and collaborator of James Cameron. The script just about works but there’s little nuance or depth to proceedings (how could there be?). This is pure cinematic exploitation from the ‘80s video-era market when (literally) anything went.

Hell Comes To Frogtown is the type of film they don’t make anymore – a live action cartoon filled with violence and nudity. They’ll probably remake it for kids and lather it with CGI in the next five years.

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