Back in the 1970s there was a wave of ecological horror movies. The usual scenario was that a group of people are cut off from civilization are menaced by animals that have either grown in size or decide to swarm and kill all the humans. At some point it is revealed to be a combination of environmental degradation and pollution, caused by greedy corporations and corrupt government that is the source of the crisis. Good thing we don’t have to worry about those things today, amirite?
There was usually an established respected actor in the role of an authority figure and a cast of unknowns for killer animal fodder. At the end there would be a couple people left alive, either escaping in a found vehicle as they looked back ruefully at man’s hubris, or realizing they were done for as the bees or spiders or giant ants closed in.
The quality varied, usually based on what kind of animal was doing the human killing. There was a lot anxiety about killer bees coming up from South America, so killer bee movies were at the top of the heap. There were movies about hordes of spiders or worms ganging up to dick punch humanity. Other movies took the gigantism tack, so we had puny humans menaced by giant ants, rats, wasps, and rabbits.
Then there was Frogs, where the threat to humanity was …frogs.
First off, this poster is a goddamn liar. The frogs in this movie are regular old frogs. They aren’t giant, and at no point during the actual movie does one have a human arm dangling out of its mouth. The frogs aren’t even particularly aggressive. The only payoff for the poster image is a tiny animation at the end of the credits of a frog slurping up a human arm.
Our hero is a nature photographer played by a young Sam Elliot.
He comes across a southern mansion with a family straight out of a Tennessee Williams play lorded over by grouchy patriarch Ray Miland. The creatures in the surrounding swamp decide they’ve had enough of these foolish humans and start attacking.
As seen in the clip below, the frogs don’t even take the lead in the human killing. The movie really ought to be called Snakes, Lizards, and There’s Some Frogs, Too.
Gotta love that zoom in to the butterfly as if it’s the gang leader of the animals saying, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker.”
In the end, only Ray Miland is left in the mansion with his trusty dog, having insisted he is master of this domain and won’t be bullied by a bunch of birds and lizards. He does a pretty game job of looking terrified as frogs close in around him.
Looks like he’s about to …
(Watch til the end to see the arm eating frog animation)
For a REAL scary frog, check this out: