Arrow Video are a label that release various horror and cult movies that would otherwise be thrown out on poorly made, heavily cut cheap releases or even never released at all, ranging from true classics like Dario Argento’s Deep Red through to bizarre, trashy 80’s fever dreams like Street Trash, with plenty of non-horror oddities inbetween such as the incomprehensible yet brilliant Forbidden Zone. They always strive to provide the best picture & sound quality available in Blu-Ray packages that are stuffed with alterate cover art, posters, booklets, behind-the-scenes archive & interview footage, giving these movies a new lease of life when other distributors could so easily have consigned them to bargain-bin releases.
Plug over, one of Arrow’s new releases is Hell Comes to Frogtown, a movie set in post-apocalyptic America where the majority of the small population is infertile, prompting a medical company to be formed with the intention of rebuilding the population. This apocalypse has for some reason lead to a largely female population, so many of the positions of power in this film are held by women. With this, the film seems to be playing with gender roles in action movies when said women aren’t throwing their clothes off for reasons barely associated with plot. It certainly feels like there’s an element of satire in these scenes though, alongside the script that has moments so hilariously atrocious it can’t be an accident in a film that is, on the whole, pretty well made. Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as Sam Hell, who is found to be a fertile prompting the medical company to take control of his genitals, whom he must accompany to rescue a group of similarly fertile women from the eponymous Frogtown, lest the chastity belt they’ve fitted him with explode. This may sound like the setup to a horrific porn movie but it is surprisingly inexplicit and a lot of fun, being much more an action movie than anything over seedy. The setup is used to showcase Roddy Piper’s ability to magnify the cheesiness of the script’s one-liners and to look cheekily at everything.
When we finally make it to Frogtown, the radioactive humanoid frogs are incredibly well done – it’s like Jim Henson and Martin Scorcese got extremely drunk. I read that last sentence as a compliment, but it’s up to you to take what you will from that. During the second half of the movie, the sense of deliberate ridiculousness continues with some completely out-of-place mystical babble that never comes to have any purpose, a rather unpleasant ritual mysteriously titled ‘the dance of the three snakes’ and an ever-incresing number of ‘final’ fights with a number of villains that have popped up, even for the briefest moment, earlier on. This is not a film for everyone, as from an objective point of view it is undeniably bad, but from my own personal view it is a brilliant example of a film being purely enjoyable. At it’s core the main plot points are fairly standard for an 80’s action movie but there’s enough bizarre originality to make it at least feel different and the campiness that can often make these films unbearable is used here to great effect. After everything I’ve said, it may be accidental, but even so it remains a very entertaining lesser-known 80’s action flick.
Arrow’s treatment here lives up to their reputation. Having never seen the film before I can’t compare it to previous transfers but I can’t imagine it has looked and sounded this good since it’s original release (low-res screenshots in this review are not taken from the Blu-Ray so don’t use them as a reference!). As always, there’s a number of in-depth extras, one looking at the brilliant creature design plus interviews and footage looking back at the general making of the film alongside essays on the film in the booklet. Sure it a smaller package than some of their more extravagant bundles (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) but nonetheless I’m sure this is far beyond what any previous fans of the movie could have ever hoped for. Limited to only 1000 copies, this probably won’t be available for long, so if you’re into campy, nonsensical 80’s action this is definitely worth ordering before it’s release on Monday 27th!