Movie Reviews 74 – Frogs (1972)

As a kid who loves horror movies, at some point in your life you go watch a movie based on some horrific poster art, and come away totally disillusioned when that one image or scene does not play out in the movie. Frogs was that movie for me. Playing to the nascent environmental concerns at the time, the poster art in question featured a human hand sticking out of the mouth of a monstrous sized frog. That’s all I knew about the movie but that was more than enough for me to want to see it.

But the fact that it did not deliver on this image does not bother me too much. That fact that this is a poor movie in general does.

Ray Milland plays the rich and cantankerous Crockett family patriarch who are celebrating their annual 4th of July family get together on their island estate. The resplendent mansion, complete with butlers and maids, hosts other family members, most of whom only bear with this annual ritual to appease the elderly Crockett and his forthcoming inheritance. As the snobby family sip tea on the lawn and play croquet, some of the younger family members are out boating when they nearly run over photographer Pickett Smith (a very young and buff Sam Elliott without his ‘stash’ but already with that unmistakable resonant voice) . Picket was out shooting some of the waterway pollution and garbage that he planned on submitting to an ecology magazine. The family take him in for the night but nature has already begun it’s revolt. The reptiles and other animals have begun not only acting differently and with seemingly single minded purposes, but they’ve also multiplied to army sized groups. Slowly but surely family members and the hired hands fall prey to this revolt until it is too late to escape.

The problem with the movie (aside from the fact that the frogs aren’t much bigger than usual and nowhere near human ingesting size) is that for the few odd moments of excitement and realistic drama, there is too much talking, tea sipping and general silliness. The boredom quickly sets in on any scene not having either Milland (already past his prime) or Elliot (nowhere near his prime). It’s a sad state when the most interesting visuals are the garish 70’s wardrobes.

Despite the promised horrors of a world gripping reptile revolution, there really isn’t much here beyond a few scenes of alligators munching. Some of the other attempts at making some of the reptiles seem horrific are laughable. So keep staring at the poster art. It’s as good as it gets.

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