• Frogs



    Released By: 88 Films
    Released On: October 24, 2016.
    Director: George McCowan
    Cast: Ray Milland, Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke
    Year: 1972

    The Movie:

    *Note: This is a Region B Blu-Ray

    Ruggedly handsome ecological photographer Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) is on a canoe expedition in the swamps of the deep south, taking pictures of local wildlife and such, when his tiny wooden vessel is capsized by Budweiser-chuggin' Clint Crockett (Adam Roarke), a jockish showoff out for a run with his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark) in his flashy speedboat. Karen takes pity on Smith and convinces Clint to take him to the family's summer home, a stately mansion on a nearby island, where Smith will have the chance to dry out his clothes and camera equipment.

    Once on the island, Smith is introduced to the extended Crockett clan...cousins, uncles, nephews, and staff, headed up by Jason Crockett (Ray Milland), a Colonel Sanders-y crotchety old man who is looking forward to his birthday celebration the next day. As his daughter-in-law Jenny (Lynn Borden) and a few others complain about the overabundance of frogs in the area and the incessant croaking sound they make, Jason hastily waves off their fears with an impatient hand, but privately asks Smith to scout and survey the island for any unusual activity. Furthermore, he mentions in private, his man Grover has been missing for hours, having gone spraying for pests.

    His clothes now dry, Smith heads into the jungle-like wilderness surrounding the Crockett home, and immediately takes notice of the dramatic amphibian population in the form of giant bullfrogs, but also notes an excess of snakes, lizards, and other creepy-crawlies. When he finds Grover's body face down and ass up in a shallow pond with most of his face missing, the ecologist in Smith contends that the overuse of poisons and pesticides has upset nature's harmonious balance, causing the angry Mother to fight back with her croaking army and other scaly warriors. But though Smith's warning is taken seriously by most of the upset family, Jason insists that the family will stand their ground in the face of danger, causing tensions to mount as the islanders slowly drop in numbers.

    Frogs will probably never be regarded as a frightening film, even if it was maybe a little scary for its time; no, the strength of this utterly enjoyable B-flick is its heavy dealing in unintentional humour as nature gets creatively more and more aggressive against humankind. Extreme close-ups of frogs, snakes, lizards, spiders, crabs, birds and other denizens of the swamp, accompanied by some fitting and some not-so-fitting sound effects create an atmosphere of mirth and hilarity. Let's be honest, even a vast number of giant frogs who resemble bitchy old men up close, are damned funny. Add to this the completely unbelievable manner in which beast overcomes man in some scenarios...the greenhouse scene is a fantastic example...and you have pure comedy gold for the most part, even if it does tend to run out of steam towards the end.

    Still, there's more to Frogs than just frogs, and one need look no further than the primary actors featured. Sam Elliott then is the Sam Elliott you know now, and he's just awesome in every way, convincingly battling snakes in the water with a paddle and stating the obvious in a reassuring manner, and Ray Milland brings decades of acting talent to the stage to paint a compelling portrait of an angry old man from a bygone age when the family patriarch called the shots and won the battle. Joan Van Ark, Judy Pace, Lynn Borden, Adam Roarke, and David Gilliam, just to name a few of the other cast members, add heavily to the winning formula, as the interchange and rising anxiety that plays among Crockett Family and guests would surely fall flat with less talented actors. And while predominantly television-employed director George McCowan may falter slightly in allowing too much of the slithery things to dominate the running time, he handles the material adequately and delivers an unlikely winner of a picture. No, it will probably never be declared an underrated work of art, but Frogs is something to see, nonetheless.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    88 Films brings Frogs to AVC-encoded, region B-locked Blu-ray that looks great. Although occasions of damage and cue marks do pop up here and there (especially those cue marks), this is a very natural looking transfer that carries a healthy amount of grain and a whole whack of detail. Exterior shots, both night and day, appear as they should, and interiors are also warm and come across perfectly. Fine detail, from the hairs on shirtless Sam Elliott's chest right down to the scales of various critters is evident, and there are no issues with compression artifacts, edge enhancement, or other digital problems.

    Audio is carried courtesy of an English LPCM 2.0 track (no subtitles are available) that's suited well for the job, with good dynamics and consistent clarity throughout. No distortion or other issues were noticeable, and dialogue, score, and croaks are balanced well.

    A Trailer for the film is the first of the supplements provided, followed by a Gallery (1:42), which is a slideshow of production stills and promotional materials.

    Also included here is "Interview" (17:56), which is an interview with David Gilliam, who plays Michael Martindale in the film. Gilliam discusses the shooting of Frogs for a large portion of the interview, but also talks about the stigma that was attached to AIP and B-Grade films in the 70's, and how his agent recommended he not take the part. Occasionally going off the rails, Gilliam also talks about the pros and cons of working in the deep south, and his role as the "Un-Credited Homosexual" in Dirty Harry.

    The Final Word:

    It's goofy and green, scaly and mean, but Frogs is pure B-movie enjoyment from start to finish. The 88 Films Blu-ray offers some okay extras, with a great-looking transfer.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






















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