Main cast: Ray Milland (Jason Crockett), Sam Elliott (Pickett Smith), Joan Van Ark (Karen Crockett), Adam Roarke (Clint Crockett), Lynn Borden (Jenny Crockett), Dale Willingham (Tina Crockett), Hal Hodges (Jay Crockett), Judy Pace (Bella Garrington), Mae Mercer (Maybelle), David Gilliam (Michael Martindale), Nicholas Cortland (Kenneth Martindale), George Skaff (Stuart Martindale), and Hollis Irving (Iris Martindale)
Director: George McCowan
Don’t be fooled by the movie poster: Frogs is not about man-eating frogs. You can imagine my face, I’m sure, as the minutes tick by slowly and I slowly realize that there will be no such thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure those were toads in the movie, with frog croaks played over, and the scenes with these toads are the same few stock footage played over and over. Still, there are few scenes with snakes with their fangs clearly removed and some hand puppets shaped like angry lizards whacking at things, so… hurrah?
A young pre-beard and pre-mustache Sam Elliott plays Pickett Smith, a photographer who is exploring the waters around the Crockett family’s private island to snap pictures of pollution. His boat is accidentally rammed into by the motorboat of Clint Crockett, and he and his sister Karen invite Pickett to their family home so that he can change into dry clothes and perhaps spend time with the family. You see, Pickett is just in time for the annual 4th of July celebration, which also doubles as a birthday party for patriarch Jason, so it’s going to be a fun party. Well, except for the fact that the family members don’t like one another much, with most of them united solely by their determination to stay on Jason’s good side and hence in his will,
The Crockett has a… factory, I guess, on the island which is polluting the place, and lo and behold, the frogs in the stock footage begin marshaling the snakes, lizards, scorpions, and even the birds to attack the human cretin. I think even the plants move on their own to attack the humans in one scene… or maybe it’s the show wanting to create the effect of the spiders spinning a web in high speed around a hapless victim and the whole thing comes off instead like a confusing, nonsensical scene.
That’s the problem with this movie: it’s ineptly put together. For a long time, maybe because scary scenes involving rented animals are expensive to do, nothing really happens aside from wooden, one-dimensional stereotypes wandering around aimlessly on the screen. When the monsters do attack, those scenes are filmed in an unintentionally hilarious display of incompetence. The use of a few same stock footage of toads again and again only add to the tinge of desperation permeating this movie. It was as if the people involved had big dreams, but realized during post-production that they really had no money left, so they just had to put things together as cheaply as possible and hope for the best.
Sure, Frogs is guilty of false advertising as the frogs here don’t really do anything directly to harm the characters here. It is guilty of far worse sins, however: it is utterly boring and free of scares or thrills. This is a movie that may as well come with a stamp on the movie poster: “We really tried… but eh, nobody cares!”
Still, Sam Elliott takes off his shirt in two scenes, and he’s very nice to look at. I guess I can throw in a pity oogie for that thoughtful gesture from these people’s part.