DVD Review: “Frogs”
Released By: MGM
Release Date: September 19, 2000
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 90 Minutes
Special Features: Original Theatrical Trailer, Fun Facts, Standard and Widescreen Formats.
Suggested Price: $19.99
An annual family reunion at a remote Florida mansion turns into a nightmare when all manner of reptiles and creepy crawlies besiege the guests. Ray Milland stars as the megalomaniac patriarch of this dysfunctional clan along with Joan Van Ark as his downtrodden daughter, and genre staple Sam Elliot as a photographer who accidently crashes their party. This movie is pure hell for anyone with a phobia of reptiles or, to a lesser degree, arachnids but it is unintentionally funny to just about everyone else. The acting is above average and helps reign in the over the top subject matter as much as possible. The pace is fast moving and a high body count and unusual deaths make this an enjoyable Saturday afternoon time killer.
The Fanboy Factor: In the 1970’s, environmental consciousness was becoming a hot topic and nature run amuck flicks were one of the more amusing byproducts. Stanley, Willard, Ben, Day of the Animals, Empire of the Ants, Kingdom of the Spiders, Bug and a whole host of other nasties hopped, crawled, and slithered across movie screens all over the country. Leading the plague filled pack of these films was Frogs (1972), which boasted a more impressive cast than you would normally expect from this kind of movie and a lurid ad campaign that couldn’t help but attract attention.
As a child growing up in Ocala, we had a second string theater called the Florida that always ended up with the exploitation pictures. The closest I ever came to going there was getting to drive by it on Silver Springs Boulevard, near the main shopping district at that time, and drooling over the garish posters on display in the front. I nearly fell out of the car window one day when I spotted the image of an oversized frog with a human hand dangling from its mouth!
Years later, when I finally got to see this flick on some local afternoon movie program, it elicited far more laughs from me than chills. As a native of Florida with a more than a passing interest in our wildlife, I was immediately struck by how many creatures featured here were not indigenous. The large number of reptiles on display includes the expected alligators, snakes, and a snapping turtle (the most ridiculous scene in a film that’s full of such moments) but we also get tarantulas, emperor scorpions, geckos, and monitor lizards that must have just been here on vacation at the time.
The film was shot entirely on location in and around Eden Park, Florida and the scenery, if you can get past the abundant pests, is beautiful. Even the interior shots in the restored mansion are very impressive and had me scanning the background during dialog scenes. Frogs certainly benefits from repeated viewing and is a great film to show northern relatives on their first visit here (I always tell them it was based on a true story). One interesting thing I noted on my most recent screening was that I never actually spotted one frog in the entire picture. There are a lot of creepy critters to be found and there certainly could have been a few in there somewhere, but for the most part, the “frogs” are played by Marine toads! Yes, I know toads are, in fact, frogs but I could not find any of the traditional kind as depicted in the advertising material. You will also want to stay tuned to the end of the credits for a surprise bonus that proves beyond a doubt that the producers had their tongues in their cheeks when making this picture!
This is close to a bare bones release from MGM but having the original trailer is always appreciated. It’s also nice to have your choice between widescreen and standard ratio versions of the film, each on their own disc side. The packaging recreates the infamous advertising image so it’s fun to leave the case lying around on the coffee table for guests to admire!
The Bottom Line:
Frogs is a great big slice of ’70’s exploitation pie. It never takes itself too seriously and gives the viewer plenty of eye candy to keep them entertained. The DVD has been reissued several times and can usually be found for under $10. This is an indispensable film for any Florida horror fan or reptile enthusiast!