Before Bud

The Friday Midnight Movie | ‘Frogs’ (1972)
The 70s was awash with animal attack films, and this particular oddity came fairly early on in the decade, the real explosion would happen in earnest post 1975s Jaws. Frogs is a perfect example of a film for which the name and poster art are irresistible for genre fans, even when you know damn well the movie within that beautiful box won’t live up to more than about 25% of your expectations. But by the time you’ve thought that logic through the order’s already in the post.
A frog. The frog is angry
The absolutely hilarious thing about this film is the lack of frogs and frog related deaths, in fact there really isn’t a single direct kill by a frog in the entire movie, and do you know why? Because frogs are perhaps one of the least threatening of mother nature’s banter-weights. At worst you may get a bad case of warts, but warts aren’t really a sexy movie sell. So why the hell pick frogs in the first place? That my friends is one of the wonderful eccentricities of not only this film but of our beloved genre. So there are kills from spiders, snakes, lizzards, alligators, birds, and some sort of none-more-slow turtle.
Anyway onto the plot, the Crockett family are a bunch of rich southern assholes who live on their own family island estate and enjoy lavish costume changes. Old man Crockett (played to astronomical a-hole extremes by Ray Milland) has a bullfrog population problem. Cue super 70s hunk extraordinaire and echo photographer the awesomely named Picket Smith (Played by man hero Sam Elliot). That’s the sort of name that has two speeds, walk and kill. Smith for some convoluted reason ends up at the family home for the 4th of July weekend celebrations and some frog research. Smith deduces that the local fauna is seriously pissed at Crockett’s use of pesticides. But there’s more than just the aggressive critters for poor Smith to worry about, he also finds himself amongst the totally bonkers Crockett family who seem intent to celebrate the 4th of July and go through as many costume changes as possible no matter how many family members have died in exceedingly hilarious circumstances. Of course like any sane man Smith is kept in this perilous situation by one thing; ass. The fine ass in question here is the once stunning, pre-surgeons knife, Joan Van Ark.

What the hell was this costume change about?
The peril in question here is a bunch of animals being poked into shot by a stage-hand’s pokey stick. These bored reptiles, arachnids, and mammals kind of stagger aimlessly about the place whilst overacting women and camp men scream wildly in their general direction. The animals in return look back at them with a look of bemusement on their face. Whilst all of this (and more costume changes) is going on you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the frogs. They spend most of their time ‘looking on’ at the proceedings as if they have some kind of overarching all knowing military plan that they alone are seeing through with the upmost precision. Or at least I think that was the intent. In reality they have as much influence on the killings as fat men at a bar do over a football game.
Um the frogs are inside. Arghhhhhh
As the film draws to a heart thumping finale surely to god the frogs have their moment in the spotlight, well yes, sort of. There’s a sitcom style punch-line ending for the survivors, and old man Crockett gets so surrounded by disorientated frogs that he suffers a heart attack. So a kill by default for the frogs. Yay. They celebrate by hopping about on his corpsey ass. If it’s frogs you want then this isn’t the film for you. If it’s Sam Elliot in an all denim ensemble, Joan Van Ark flashing her 70s heiny, and an array of homicidal bored animals then this’ll be right up your street. Frogs retains a certain old school charm and has enough silliness to keep you entertained, it’s certainly on the camper end of the Deadly Movies scale, but none the less worth a watch in the witching hour.
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2 thoughts on “Before Bud

  1. Tom says:

    ha ha ha ha!

  2. chuck grybosky says:

    This movie was a regular on WPGH Pittsburgh’s “Suspense Theater” on Saturday Afternoons in the early 80’s, which featured mostly throwaway sci-fi/horror B Movies from the 70’s. It creeped my little 8 year old mind out, much more than other offerings like “The Crater Lake Monster.” I was afraid to walk in the woods behind my house by myself for months.

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