The Mad Max films are pretty good. Except maybe the one with Tina Turner in it. But they’re missing a crucial ingredient. They don’t have mutant frogmen in them. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a post-apocalyptic movie featuring man-sized frogs? And wouldn’t it also be great if it starred Rowdy Roddy Piper?
Well, there is. And it does. And it’s called Hell Comes to Frogtown. With a title like that, I don’t know how anyone can resist. Unless, perhaps, you like to wear polo neck sweaters, smoke menthol cigarettes, and sit outside Parisian cafes, stroking your goatee beard whilst discussing auteur theory. A wanker, in other words.
Anyway, the story. Roddy Piper is one of the last few fertile men in a world devastated by nuclear war, and now controlled by (mostly) hot women. As he is something of a prize, invaluable in the repopulation process, a government-run outfit known as Med-Tech clamps a metal codpiece on his crown jewels. The one snag for him is that if he moves too far out of range of a certain person, the codpiece starts dispensing electric shocks. Move even further, and the thing blows up. Kind of like The Running Man, but the bomb’s on his cock.
Of course, fertile men need fertile women. But it seems a group of those women have been captured by an army of mutant frogmen, and are being held deep in Frogtown. In the company of a doctor, and a crop top wearing army girl who controls a mounted machine gun on their vehicle, Roddy Piper must rescue them. It’s either that, or lose his willy.
It’s textbook story telling. Books on story structure will tell you that you need to raise the stakes for the main character. That you must find something that he/she cares deeply about, and place that thing under threat. Is there anything that a man cares about more deeply than the wellbeing of his todger? It doesn’t come much more high stakes than that.
However, this is Rowdy Roddy Piper we’re talking about. This is a man who laughs in the face of adversity. Sure, he might panic a bit when his bomb packed codpiece starts bleeping, but he remains pretty personable and gung-ho. Maybe that’s a limit of his acting abilities. Even if that’s true, it still makes for a goofy, enjoyable performance. You can’t help but like the lovable lug.
And that about sums the movie up as well. The acting won’t win any Oscars, but everyone’s competent in a charmingly daft way, and always watchable. It’s easy to slate a B-movie, but what I like about some of the better ones is their sense of fun. Hell Comes to Frogtown, for all it’s failings, for all it’s cheesiness, never loses sight of having fun.