1972 – Unpatriotic swamp creatures completely ruin an old man’s 4th of July birthday party.
This movie is like a less shitty version of The Happening, where animals begin to rise up and systematically exterminate humans because we litter and use pesticides. As our hero, Pickett Smith (played by a mustache-less Sam Elliott) states, “Frogs attacking windows? Snakes in chandeliers? These aren’t exactly normal things.” One would be hard-pressed to argue.
Yes, frogs do attack in this movie (sorta), but most of the dirty work is done by creatures that have no business being in Florida in the first place, like tarantulas, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and Gila monsters. The frogs just sit on each other, hop about, and croak. The real star of the film is Jason Crockett (Ray Milland), a crippled old bastard who has to go down as one of the most crotchety and unreasonably stubborn figures in cinematic history.
Gruff-yet-environmentally-conscious photographer Smith ends up on Crockett’s private island just in time for the grouchy geezer’s annual birthday extravaganza. The rest of the Crockett family is there, including the ’70s-hot* Karen (Joan Van Ark), various cousins and uncles, and a couple of put-upon black servants. The wildlife, angered at the family’s attempts to poison or shoot them, becomes hostile, and the body count is startlingly high.
* ’70’s hot = a huge, frizzy hairdo and the body of an anorexic 12-year-old
Unlike many eco-horror film antagonists to follow, Crockett doesn’t ignore the animal menace because it’ll cost him money or give him bad publicity. He’s simply hellbent on having his lame birthday party no matter how many family members die. “I won’t let anything interfere with today’s schedule,” he opines after half the attendees are dead. The schedule, by the way, involves everyone sitting on the lawn, listening to a phonograph, and… whatever the Hell this is:
Crockett keeps sending his henchmen out to eliminate the swamp creatures, but opines, “With all this technology and all my money we still can’t get rid of these frogs. Interesting, isn’t it?” (It’s not). Smith, of course, realizes the danger: “What if nature was trying to get back at us?” he suggests. “NONSENSE!” Crockett bellows.
When his only remaining grandchild and his freshly orphaned great grandchildren decide to leave, he acts like it’s a massive act of betrayal: “If you wanna leave go, go on, get the Hell outta here! Just stand up and be counted. That means you’re with me or against me, ya understand?” Like they can’t just hold the party somewhere else? He actually chides the family for wanting to disrupt the celebration because of “one death.”
I’m proposing a new party game called “Crocketting,” where you select famous historical disasters and insist that everyone ignore them. Mr. Crockett! The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor!
Mr. Crockett, terrorists have destroyed the Twin Towers in New York!
Try it with your friends!
Here are some helpful hints if you, like the characters in this movie, ever find yourself attending a birthday party on a remote island and various critters begin a violent anti-human revolution.
Because, Murphy’s Law, you’ll end up falling right beneath a tree infested by huge tarantulas.
Did you know that lizards are immune to poison and can survive in an atmosphere toxic to humans? And can, apparently, read? And have knowledge of advanced chemistry? Well, they do.
The guy gets eaten by an alligator moments later, and it serves him right.
Toward the end of the film, Crockett is sitting alone in the house and the phone rings. There’s nobody there. Not only that, but the line is dead (it was cut, presumably by the frogs, at the beginning). I don’t understand this… there’s absolutely no reason to have the phone ring in this scene. Was it the frogs prank calling him? They should have strung it out, in that case, maybe had the frogs ding-dong ditch him or put some dog shit in a bag and light it on fire.
It’s been a few days since I’ve seen Frogs, and it’s growing on me. Pair this one with Zombeavers for a delightful double feature.