Mankind Vs. Frogkind!
Back in the middle 1980s there was a little B-movie produced with one of the best film titles ever: Hell Comes To Frogtown. Starring WWF wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and a bunch of wart infested walking, talking frogs, Hell Comes To Frogtown because a cult classic of sorts, a treat made for those willing to stay up until three in the morning top watch a movie about killer toads book ended between Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Eaten Alive. In 1993, director Donald G. Jackson returned to his old stomping grounds…err, swamp, with the sequel Return To Frogtown, now on DVD care of York Entertainment!
Facts of the Case
Everyone remembers Sam Hell (this time played by Robert Z'Dar of Maniac Cop fame)! Hell was the hero who defeated Commander Toty, fertilized some women, and generally kicked some mutant frog butt in Hell Comes To Frogtown. Now Sam Hell is back…and he's returned to Frogtown!
Hell is now part of the Texas Rocket Rangers, along with his old sparring partner Spangle (Denice Duff). After a fellow Rocket Ranger (Lou Ferrigno, TV's The Incredible Hulk) is captured and imprisoned in Frogtown, it's up to our hero's to head in and break him out!
But this mission won't be easy! It seems that the frogs have captured Dr. Tanzer (Brion James, The Player), a whack job of a scientist who is working on a serum to genetically alter humans into green, ugly frog-people! To make matters worse, the frogs are now being led by a mysterious and shifty head honcho czar who wears a big hat that makes him look like an extra from John Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China.
Can Sam Hell reprise his heroics and save his butt, his comrades and the entire world ? Or is he doomed to live his life as a fly eating reptile???
For those of you who enjoyed the original Hell Comes To Frogtown, I have good news: you are going to like Return To Frogtown. However, I don't want to sound deceptive and say that Return To Frogtown looks as good as the first film. Unfortunately, the budget on Return To Frogtown was considerably less than its predecessor. Some of the make-up and special effects look a bit cheaper. Some of the sets are a bit ricketier. But make no mistake: this is a still a "Frogtown" film!
Director Donald G. Jackson was able to assemble a decent cast of character actors that seem to realize how silly and goofy this material is. Lead actor Robert Z'Dar has a face built like a six-foot wall, easily besting Bruce Campbell in the enormous chin department. His strong chiseled face looks as if it could be used to pound railroad ties into the ground. Charles Napier (Ernest Goes To Jail, The Silence Of The Lambs) makes a few funny appearances as the Rocket Rangers commander, and then there's the inclusion of late night movie diva Rhonda Shear as Fuzzy, a talking computerized woman who looks like she's still stuck in 1986.
The make-up effects are a notch down from the first film, though I was still surprised at how good the frog make-up looked. While this isn't Stan Winston quality, the frogs still looked fairly real (or as real as striding, chatting frogs can look) with the exception of Junior, an obnoxiously smart aleck frog puppet that looks like a reject from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit.
As for the story, it's all just fodder for some late night entertainment. The script is mediocre at best, but what else are you expecting when there's the name "Frogtown" in the title? In writer/director Jackson's defense the whole thing moves along briskly with a sense of playfulness and zeal. This isn't going to win any awards, but at least everyone involved knew how to keep it entertaining. Just when you think things are slowing down, out pops Brion James with his weird lisp and frizzy hair to lighten things up. Or if you feel like you may be starting to nod off, wait a few minutes for the cheesy flying rocket man effects. And let's not forget the nightclub scene full of singing frogs!
Return To Frogtown comes close to being that perfect late night movie. It has all the ingredients needed for a film like this: cheesball effects, some strange performances, mutant frogs, and of course…Robert Z'Dar's funny lookin' noggin.
Return To Frogtown is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. Though this isn't the cleanest print I've ever seen, I was pleasantly surprised that it looked better than expected. Colors showed a slight amount of bleeding with black levels looking usually solid. A small amount of dirt and grain was spotted throughout the feature. Let me put it this way: compared to something like Armageddon this transfer sucks, but for a low budget movie by a low budget distributor, it's not half bad.
Audio is presented in what I assume is Dolby Digital Mono. The package doesn't specify what the audio is, so that's what I'm sticking with. There was a small amount of distortion heard from time to time in different areas, but overall this is a decent mix. Dialogue, effects, and music are all evenly rendered (mostly) without a lot of hiss in the background. No subtitles or alternate tracks are included on this disc, though you do get the end credits song "Frogtown" by Terry Jones Rogers of The Byrds, easily one of the oddest theme songs in ever written for a movie about mutant frogs.
This is the first time that I've come across a DVD that has no menu whatsoever. Once you pop this sucker in your player the movie just starts up. No audio options, no special features, no scene selections…you don't get jack. Boo-hiss to York Entertainment for this travesty!
If you liked the first film then you're sure to enjoy Return To Frogtown. It's a mess, but it's a relatively fun mess. I've never seen this movie for rent so you may have to hit Amazon.com to find this little booger for a decent price (usually around ten bucks). York Entertainment has done a pretty shoddy job on this title, but for some reason it all seems to fit with the proceedings…
Return To Frogtown is free to go because we NEED movies like this on late night cable. York Entertainment is slapped with a hefty fine for their work on this disc. Ribbit!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: York Entertainment
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