Frogs (Or It’s Not Easy Being Green)

This post is part of the Nature’s Fury Blogathon
hosted by Barry P. at Cinematic Catharsis.

fury

“Frogs lay hundreds of millions of eggs each year. What if they all hatched!?”
What if indeed?

I have a list, as I’m sure many a movie blogger has, of movies I shouldn’t love but do. It’s an alarmingly long list. Frogs is on that list. Specifically, it’s in the Top 5. Possibly Top 3.

frogs

 

I’m aware, therefore, that Frogs is not only flawed, but fails on numerous levels. For one thing, it’s an American International picture which says much. It opens with Pickett Smith (a young, bushy-haired, clean-shaven Sam Elliott) in a canoe. He’s taking pictures of wildlife but also pollution.

Lots of it.

 

 

 

gecko
I’m not from around here

We’ll just gloss over the fact that at least some of this wildlife is likely not native to Florida, the area Smith is in. Probably not native to any place near there.

We’ll also gloss over the fact that most of the frogs in Frogs are, in reality, toads.

And the fact that frogs don’t, y’know, attack people.

And have no teeth.

And don’t actually kill a single person in the movie. Not even indirectly. They’re just kinda there. Lots of them, sure, but still, just there. Most of the killing is done by snakes. And spiders. And an alligator. And some birds.

Instead let’s set these shortcomings aside and look at some of the, uh, highlights of the movie.

First there’s Ray Milland. I don’t think that needs any explanation. Cuz Ray Milland. Moving on.

milland

In an early scene, Smith, Karen (Joan Van Ark pre-Dallas, Knots Landing, and Spider-Woman), and her brother, Clint (Adam Roarke), cross a misty forest. This mist recurs throughout the movie, suggesting the misty island in Matango and its source material, Hodgson’s “The Voice In The Night.”

In other words, it’s isolating, eerie, and suggests weird things are going to happen.

In addition several victims meet interesting demises. Kenneth (Nicholas Cortland) is asphyxiated in a green house when a number of large lizards knock over several bottles of chemicals.

His dotty, butterfly-collecting mother, Iris (Hollis Irving), ends up covered in leeches and bitten by a rattlesnake. Is it me, or does she look unsettlingly like Bette Davis in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte?

charlotte iris2

Still, let’s be honest. As eco-horror, Frogs pretty much croaks (yep, I said that). All, however, is not lost, especially not if we look at Frogs not so much as eco-horror but more as eco-Exodus.

After all, Smith starts out adrift in death-infested waters from which he is fished, Moses-like, by the granddaughter of the wealthy, nature-hating industrialist/pharaoh, Jason Crockett (Milland).

There’s more.

Smith is at first welcomed into the celebratory gathering in honor of Crockett, the grand patriarch of the family, much as Moses became the adopted son of Seti I. Like Moses doing the bidding of his adoptive father, Smith fulfills Crockett’s initial request to go find his missing groundskeeper.

Also like Moses, Smith rejects the rule of Crockett/pharaoh and allies himself with the oppressed family. He tries several times to convince Crockett that everyone should leave the island. Crockett’s response is pharaoh’s. He hardens his heart and refuses.

Crockett maintains this attitude to the end, even in the face of what is clearly The Plague Of Frogs.

Smith ultimately leads the remaining survivors to freedom, at one point having to free their stuck canoe. In the process, he is attacked in the water by snakes which he fends off with an oar, smacking them as they glide atop the water.

After this, he frees the canoe, and they make it to shore. In other words, Smith raises his rod against the waters, thereby providing safe passage from the enemy. He has figuratively parted the Red Sea and saved his people.

I know. I know. Bit of a, well, bit of a leap.

17 thoughts on “Frogs (Or It’s Not Easy Being Green)

  1. Nice review! I agree about having a long list of not-so-guilty pleasures, so there’s no shame in liking Frogs. Like you, I never really found the frogs (or toads) particularly menacing. I thought of the titular amphibians as overlords or a Greek chorus, overseeing the human carnage.

    Thanks for participating in the Nature’s Fury Blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, that tiny to not so tiny creatures on the rampage phase in the 70’s… This flick, Squirm, The Swarm, Phase IV, Kingdom of the Spiders, BUG!, and so forth and so on. Not perfect, but I’d spend a day in front of the tube with them for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I found some old boxes a few years ago at my parents place. There were some ceramics packed in newspapers. I found the old newspapers more interesting than the ceramics. One of them was wrapped in the movies page. One of the ads was for a drive-in & it was touting Frogs as one of the features. It was this discovery that eventually inspired me to create my blog, The Midnite Drive-In. True, I still haven’t seen the actual movie that was the inspiration for my blog, but with Ray Milland, I need to seek it out. Good review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I remember the original television trailer. I may have seen this in fact at the Twin Hi-Way Drive In in Pittsburgh. Like your blog! I’ve read it quite a few times and just followed it.

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  4. Awesome review! Made me chuckle and as a fellow fan of ‘movies I really shouldn’t love’, I certainly understand where you’re coming from 🙂

    Great choice for Nature’s Fury too and my grandad is terrified of frogs (in passing)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Blogferatu,

    Hollis Irving is indeed the spirit-and-image of Bette Davis in “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” particularly in the black-and-white picture.

    By the way, I was just wondering if you know whether or not you’ll be able to participate in the “Singing Sweethearts Blogathon.” If you find that you will be able to participate, please let me know so I can put you down on the roster! I believe I mentioned it to you in a previous comment, and I would like very much to know if you will be able to participate.

    As I said in my last comment, even though this seems like an unlikely topic for you, I would love to have you write about “The Phantom of the Opera.”

    Please let me know if you can participate. The blogathon is drawing near, and I have few participants, so I would greatly appreciate a contribution from you.

    Many thanks and good wishes!

    Joyfully,

    Rebekah Brannan

    Like

      • Dear Blogferatu,

        I’m very glad that you’re going to write about “The Phantom of the Opera,” since it is a very good film. I have only seen it once, but I found it to be very deep and meaningful. I’m looking forward to your article very much, and I will put you down on the roster right away!

        Thank you very much for your support and participation!

        Joyfully,

        Rebekah Brannan

        Like

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