The Jessica Journals:

April 05, 2008: Because Frogs Hopping Aimlessly Around Are Scary

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Tapestry Of Power

As I think has been fairly well documented on these pages, I watch a lot of sub par movies. This is quite obviously a weakness of mine, possibly the result of having been exposed to Mystery Science Theater 3000 at an early age, or perhaps it's merely a sign that I am incredibly insecure and need to bolster my enervated ego by feeding it images of the laughable failures of others.

Either way, upon viewing these risible celluloid spectacles, I am often confronted with the cold, harsh reality that, while vaguely amusing in an unfulfilling way, the films are so incredibly boring that the sheer difficulty of writing about them in an interesting fashion negates any desire I might originally have had to blog about said movies.

Such a film is Frogs, a 1972 horror thriller thing* starring Ray Milland and (a surprisingly young) Sam Elliot.

Ray portrays Jason Crockett, an old, wheel-chair ridden, extremely crotchety millionaire who has gathered his relatives to his island estate in the Deep South for their yearly Fourth of July get-together. Needless to say, his family hates it, and they only come because they don't want to get cut out of Jason's will. This year, they are joined by one Pickett Smith, a photojournalist who is working on a story about pollution.

The estate grounds are simply crawling with frogs and other assorted amphibians, and, this being a horror film a thriller a movie, we viewers get to enjoy an hour and a half of watching the Crockett family getting bumped off one after another by the cold-blooded (pun intended) little killers.

And when I say "little killers" I mean exactly that...much to my disappointment, for although the movie poster may sport a picture of a frog with a human hand sticking out of its mouth, absolutely no giant, man devouring frogs appear during this film.

...Which only makes the various victim that much more pathetic.

It is one thing to be chased down and devoured by a giant frog. It is entirely another thing to trip over some grass, shoot yourself in the thigh with a rifle, and then lie relatively still and do nothing save scream while a couple spiders crawl over you and spanish moss, apparently of its own accord, jumps off the trees and lands on top of you, hiding you from sight.

Perhaps Jason Crockett's arrogant, over-bearing, and controlling attitude finally drives all his relatives to commit suicide. That is the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for the fact that everybody goes out of their way to make their deaths at the hands of amphibious creatures possible, and a couple characters have to actually work quite hard to be killed.

If my brief internet research is any indication, this film is more often than not categorized as "eco-horror" because the movie suggests that the animals have risen up to wreak fell vengeance as a result of and in answer to man's debasement of the environment. I, however, think that it can more properly be seen as a socio-political morality tale which speaks out against the idleness and excess of the indolent rich and praises the working class values America was founded upon. America [so says the movie] was made great by old fashioned, middle-class, can-do initiative, but now we are in danger of becoming a country of torpid and indulged individuals who have known only privilege and never had to strive for anything. If we do nothing to halt and reverse this retrogression [continue the filmmakers] we shall reach a point where even the French (i.e. frogs) could overcome us with ease.

When viewed in that light, the film suddenly takes on an urgency and import that rivals even some of Leo Tolstoy's writings.

Who am I kidding? If the movie has any purpose at all it is only to (a) see how many people it can show blundering into their deaths before doing so becomes tedious** and (b) discover how many close-ups of frogs it is possible to cram into a 91 minute long film***.

All in all, I would have to say that if you're looking for a fun, campy murderous-animal movie Frogs should probably not be your first choice.

Footnotes

* Any aspects of horror that this movie might possess result solely and directly from the far-too-seventies outfits worn by the male characters. Back

**The answer: between 0 and almost 0. Back

***The answer: far too many. Back


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Copyright 2008 Jessica Menn