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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Hell Comes to Frogtown

April 3, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Hell Comes to Frogtown Roddy Piper

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #549: Hell Comes to Frogtown

Post-Apocalyptic April: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that suspects that, even when he was still alive, it would have been a really weird experience meeting Rory Calhoun but I’m not entirely sure why (it’s just a feeling I get), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and forty-nine, Post-Apocalyptic April begins with the classic low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi action comedy Hell Comes to Frogtown, which was released at some point in January 1988.

Hell Comes to Frogtown


Hell Comes to Frogtown, directed by Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer, is a movie that I first saw on basic cable, on the USA network. I don’t remember if it was just on at some point some weekend or if it was shown as part of USA Up All Night hosted by Rhonda Shear, but I’m fairly certain that it was on USA. And the movie being on there made sense since the WWF was on USA and Hell Comes to Frogtown stars pro wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I didn’t care for it the first time I saw it. I was annoyed that it wasn’t more like They Live, with Piper doing the serious badass thing, and that it wasn’t scarier and gorier. Why was this post-apocalyptic movie funny/silly? I didn’t really get it. I was expecting a completely different movie. Now that I’m much older, I can say that I “get” Hell Comes to Frogtown and that I really, truly love it. It really is a true blue low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi action horror comedy classic.

Piper stars as Sam Hell, one of the last fertile men left on Earth ten years after worldwide nuclear war decimated the world and changed everything. What used to be the United States is now run by a female led government/corporation called MedTech that hopes to find as many fertile men as it can so they can impregnate as many fertile women as possible so the Earth can be repopulated. Hell is captured by this government and then enlisted to help rescue a group of fertile women that was taken by Commander Toty (Brian Frank), the leader of the mutant territory known as Frogtown. Hell doesn’t want to participate in any of this. He was content to just live his life in the wastelands being a badass of some sort (you kind of have to be a badass with a name like Sam Hell). But when he was captured he was fitted with a pair of futuristic armored underwear, essentially making his genitals government property. On top of that, Hell’s underwear is rigged to explode if there’s trouble/he tries to escape, so Hell, in this instance, pretty much has to do whatever his female captors tell him to. So Hell is going to have to go to Frogtown.

Hell isn’t entering Frogtown on his own, though. Leading the trip into Frogtown is Spangle (Sandahl Bergman), a top government scientist, and Centinella (Cec Verrell), a badass soldier. To say that they don’t get along would be a serious understatement. Again, Hell doesn’t want to be there at all. Spangle sees Hell as a commodity, a thing. And Centinella wants to have sex with Hell because, well, she just does (I’m guessing that the majority infertile men don’t make for great sexual partners because Centinella, infertile herself, is all about banging Hell). How are they going to get along well enough to complete their mission?

Frogtown is, as you would expect, an odd place. It’s populated with both mutants and humans and it sort of resembles a town from the old west. The mutants, by and large, don’t seem to be all that dangerous. The mutants are just people, beings, trying to live their lives in a harsh, harsh world. And the humans that are there seem to get along with the mutants. The mutants are in charge, it’s their home, but it’s not like the humans there are necessarily second class citizens.


So who is Commander Toty? He’s the leader of Frogtown and he seems to function as both a governmental leader and the head of the area’s criminal underworld. Both the humans and the mutants in Frogtown fear him and his henchmen and, to a certain extent, they all seem to work for him. We don’t actually see Toty until towards the end of the movie, though. We get to know him via his reputation. And Toty is pretty much exactly what you would suspect he is; an asshole and a criminal.

The general comedic tone of Hell Comes to Frogtown is something you just don’t expect. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, the star of the movie is a badass pro wrestler, and there are goddamn mutant frogs and whatnot all over the place. This shouldn’t be funny, should it? It is, and it’s brilliant. It does take a few moments to get used to, especially when you realize that the first scene is meant to be funny (it’s all about the size of the Statue of Liberty), but once you grasp what the movie is doing it’s a blast. And that tone is consistent throughout the movie. Even when things get serious, like with William Smith’s cantankerous misogynist Captain Devlin, that seriousness still works, in concert, with the movie’s overall silly tone. Hell Comes to Frogtown is meant to be fun.


The special make-up effects for the various mutants are all terrific looking. For the most part, the mutants come off as “real” creatures that could exist in the right circumstances, and no one looks ridiculous interacting with them. The only questionable make up belongs to the Arabella character played by Kristi Somers, as it looks a little cartoonier than the other mutants. At the same time, Somers does a great job playing a sort of subversive against the Toty government, and even if she doesn’t look like the other mutants you still buy her as a part of this world. My favorite mutant is the Bull character played by Nicholas Worth. Bull has an eye patch, a serious mean streak, and he tries to kill Sam Hell with a chainsaw. It’s such an insane image. A one-eyed frog mutant wielding a chainsaw. How the hell is this not a bestselling action figure?

The movie doesn’t have much action in it, but what it does have works and is exciting enough. Could the movie have used a biggish action set piece of some sort? Sure. But it doesn’t really bother trying to do one, and that’s okay. I do want to commend the big explosion towards the end of the movie. Real explosions are always better than, well, ones that aren’t real. And the pink truck that Hell, Prangle, and Centinella use while travelling to Frogtown is pretty cool. It has a nifty mounted M60 on the roof. You can’t really go wrong with that kind of thing.


Roddy Piper is amazing as Sam Hell. Hell Comes to Frogtown wasn’t his big screen debut (I believe that was the classic pro wrestling comedy Body Slam. Piper did appear in a movie in the late 1970’s but, according to imdb, that was an uncredited performance, so I’m not going to count that. Quick Rick Roberts in Body Slam was a real deal part that he got actual billing for), but you’d swear to God that he’d been acting in movies for years. He’s a natural in front of the camera, he never trips over any of his lines, he works well with his fellow actors, and he makes it look easy. It’s shocking to me that after this performance here and his performance in They Live that Piper didn’t become a bigger movie star. Again, he’s a natural in front of the camera. His charisma just jumps off the screen. Piper did have a remarkable B-movie career, though, something I hope to explore more of as the years go by. He was always a better actor than he was ever given credit for. That’s why, as I said here, he belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of wrestlers turned actors. There is no The Rock, no Dave Bautista, and no John Cena without Roddy Piper. There just isn’t. That’s how important Roddy Piper is to B-movie cinema and movies in general.

Sandahl Bergman is terrific as Spangle the government scientist. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, and you truly believe that she’s all in on the government’s repopulation strategy. She also has both great antagonistic chemistry with Piper and great “eventual romantic relationship” chemistry with Piper. She also manages to make her scenes where she strips down to lingerie in order to arouse Piper’s Hell not sexy at all, which is a feat since Bergman is super attractive. You will love Spangle.

Cec Verrell does a good job as Centinella. She’s easily the most badass character in the movie and she barely engages in any action. It really is all in her severe look. When she does engage in action, though, watch the hell out.

The great Rory Calhoun is, well, great as Looney Tunes, the human weirdo in Frogtown that has history with Hell. You don’t expect to see him in this kind of movie (yes, he did wear a pig’s head and wield a chainsaw in Motel Hell but, still, it’s odd seeing him here) but he’s a total pro and a joy to watch. You could easily make a movie out of Looney Tunes and his daily life in Frogtown. That’s how real and cool Calhoun is here.

And then there’s William Smith as Captain Devlin. He does his usual William Smith job, which is raspy intensity mixed with an innate badassness that you can’t duplicate. He’s just awesome.

There are three more movies in the Frogtown franchise. I’ve only seen one of them to date, Frogtown II, which stars Robert Z’Dar as Sam Hell. It’s pretty good, but it doesn’t quite resonate like the first one. I haven’t seen the other two (Toad Warrior and Max Hell Frog Warrior). I think I’m going to have to make an effort to fix that.

The first one, though? I’m glad that I checked out Hell Comes to Frogtown again. It really is a low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi action horror comedy classic. If you haven’t seen it in a long time, make an effort to see it again. It’s definitely worth a re-watch. And if you’ve never seen Hell Comes to Frogtown, you need to rectify that immediately. Hell Comes to Frogtown is an absolute must see.

See Hell Comes to Frogtown. See it, see it, goddamn see it. Long live Sam Hell!

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Like 10 or so onscreen, billions off screen.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: Yes, and it’s pretty spectacular.

Doobage: Nuclear war, worldwide devastation, an old six-shooter, a cool opening titles sequence, mild chair bondage, super underwear, a badass pink truck, dangerous underwear, constant arousal, attempted sex, talk about a contract, forced running, mild bondage, an ass injection, attempted forced sex, cigar smoking, industrial waste that’s actually meant to be food, mutant erotic dancing, mutant frogs with katanas, attempted human/mutant sex, bag over the head, a weird ritual, chainsaw hooey, attempted removal of super underwear with a chainsaw, exploding underwear, giant drill bit to the chest, green blood, flare gun hooey, triple ball kicking, double shotgun hooey, M60 hooey, missile/grenade attack, multiple grenade attacks, a sort of high speed chase, a Mercedes Benz hood ornament necklace, RPG rocket launcher hooey, sword through the chest, bullet to the head, a quick hand-to-hand brawl, fingers to the eyes, hand removal, and a kiss.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Nuclear war, a Statue of Liberty model, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper playing a guy named Sam Hell, William Smith, Genesis 1:28, anti-condom propaganda, armored super underwear, Sandahl Bergman, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” on the soundtrack, sleeping in a sleeping bag, sexy camo lingerie, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper aroused, seduction techniques, a “Welcome to Frogtown” sign, a mutant frog woman stripper, a mutant frog reading The Frog Prince, Rory Calhoun, anti-government views, mutant currency, mutant frog with an eye patch and wielding a chainsaw, RPG rocket launcher hooey, and a nice ending.

Best lines: “In the latter days of the 20th century there was a difference of opinion,” “Hey, Squidlips!,” “This man is carrying a loaded weapon!,” “You’re still here?,” “Some people think women are running too many things,” “I’m not going in that,”: “Get in, stud,” “We’re going to Frogtown,” “Why would mutants want to kidnap human females?,” “See ya later, sisters! Much later!,” “I just thought a man of your reputation might be hungry,” “I hate the army,” “You’re out of uniform, corporal,” “According to the tests I just ran on her she’s fertile,” “She don’t like your cooking, either,” “Maybe you oughta try to make love to a complete stranger in hostile territory. See how you like it!,” “I’m not a machine you can turn on and off, you know,” “I guess I’m gonna have to live up to my contract,” “Did anyone ever tell you that you have a wonderful personality?,” “Tastes like industrial waste,” “I go where the uranium is,” “That man must have been eighty years old when I was born,” “Beer! Real beer!,” “You got a name? Hell. Sam Hell. Never heard of him,” “I said it was high bid five, flat lips!,” “Just promise me you won’t be gentle! That I can promise,” “Cut it off! Cut it off! It’s killing me!,” “I got to tell you, you’re one weird dude,” “Dance! Or die! Modern or ballet?,” “You have aroused the three snakes!,” “Eat lead froggies!,” “Sure ya need me?,” “You boys gonna eat dirt or lead? Wise choice,” “Come on, people, I’m double parked here!,” “Long winded sonofabitch!,” “We thought you were dead. Where were you?,” and “I guess what they say is true. What’s that? A soldier’s work is never done.”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


VFW: This sort of badass action-horror siege movie has received excellent reviews so far, and for true blue B-movie nerds it has become a must see based solely on those reviews. Well, the reviews and the cast, which features Stephen Lang, William Sadler, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, and Martin fucking Kove. The story? Basically, it’s about a group of badass war veterans who protect a scared teen from a gang of scumbag punks by holing up inside a VFW bar. I can’t wait to see this. I need to see this. And, like I said, if you’re a B-movie nerd, you need to see it, too. Man, I can’t wait!


Bones Collector’s Edition: If you’re a fan of this weird and wonderful horror flick starring Snoop Dogg and directed by the great Ernest Dickerson, this new Blu-ray from the fine folks at Shout! Factory and its Scream Factory imprint is very much a must own. It looks like all of the special features that were on the previous home video release from New Line are on this Blu-ray along with new interviews, all of which will no doubt kick ass. And since it’s coming to us from Scream Factory the look of the movie will be insane and the best it’s ever looked. It’s too bad that we never got a franchise out of this movie, as I’m sure there were other Jimmy Bones stories to tell. At least we’ll have this home video release to celebrate the movie. Any Bones fans out there?


Xtro 3: Watch the Skies: This is another movie that I need to see. This second sequel in the Xtro franchise has a team of soldiers stuck on an island fighting an alien monster. Yes, we’ve all probably seen this kind of movie before, but have we all seen it with Andrew Divoff, Robert Culp, and Virgil Frye? Exactly. This particular Blu-ray/DVD combo comes to us from the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome, so you know that, even if the movie isn’t the greatest, the presentation of it will be terrific. I definitely want to experience this combo pack and get reacquainted with the Xtro franchise.


Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker: The final movie in the Skywalker story and the “Star Wars saga” was a box office hit all over the world, but it sure as hell divided audiences. I don’t know if it divided audiences as bad as The Last Jedi, but some people really liked The Rise of Skywalker, and some people absolutely despised it. I liked it and believe it’s the best of the three “saga” movies produced by Disney (check out my thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker here). If you didn’t make it to a movie theatre to see this on the big screen, be sure to check it out on home video. Even if you don’t like the movie, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the special features and whatnot produced for this. I wonder where the Star Wars franchise will head next? Will it be more TV based, like The Mandalorian, or will we eventually get more movies, like the proposed Rian Johnson led trilogy? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Hell Comes to Frogtown

Roddy Piper– Sam Hell
Sandahl Bergman– Spangle
Cec Verrell– Centinella
William Smith– Captain Devlin
Rory Calhoun– Looney Tunes
Kristi Somers– Arabella
Brian Frank– Commander Toty
Nicholas Worth– Bull

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer
Screenplay by Randall Frakes, based on a story by Donald G. Jackson and Randall Frakes

Distributed by New World Pictures, New World Video, Starmaker Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Image Entertainment, and Vinegar Syndrome

Rated R for violence, language, nudity, and sexual situations
Runtime– 86 minutes

Buy it here

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Bryan Kristopowitz