Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It Came From Netflix! Frog-g-g!

With video cameras and digital equipment making filmmaking more affordable, we’re seeing a trend towards folk making spoofs of cheapie sci-fi fare (the most famous of which is The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, although I think Destination Mars is even better). This is because many people fanatically love those sorts of movies, and because making such a film on a shoestring budget only makes it more authentic.

From the title, you’d expect Frog-g-g! to be much the same, a riff on the environmental monster movies of the ‘70s. Instead, it’s not so much a spoof as an exact recreation of such a film. In fact, for the most part it could be a dead serious movie from that period that was thought lost and just recovered.

Dr. Barbara Michaels is an EPA scientist investigating mutations occurring in a small, insular town. These are the result, no surprise, of toxic chemical shenanigans perpetrated by (three guesses) a dastardly local capitalist. Despite receiving flack from many of the locals, Michaels remains undaunted. However, things are even worse than she thinks, and the mutations rather more severe…

Or so I thought for a good 60% of the movie, during which it plays exactly like a Roger Corman film from that period, such as, say, Piranha. (In fact, the movie is basically a riff on Corman’s oft-remade Humanoids of the Deep.) Then, all of the sudden, the monster is introduced. I was thrown so much by how silly the monster suit was, because, you know, I’ve seen Bog.

However, the scant scenes that feature the monster are played pretty much entirely for laughs, despite being the only scenes in the movie that are done that way. Therefore, I’m really not sure what to make of the film. I enjoyed it, but I was left scratching my head as to what they thought they were up to. I can see a straight out spoof; I can see a dead serious recreation of such a film, and I can even see a mostly straight horror film heavily leavened with comedy (or vice versa). However, a film that is entirely straightforward 95% of the time and pure Borscht Belt comedy the other five perfect---the five percent built around the film’s monster—well, I don’t know what to make of that.

Corman vet Mary Woronov has a highly tauted appearance in the film, but it’s just a quick cameo.


At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Governor Breck said...

Destination Mars. Is that the actual name of the picture? I looked it up on Netflix and they didn't have it and imdb only has a documentary from 1996 under that title. I rented The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra based on your recommendation last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'd like to check this one out too. Frog-g-g has already been added.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Sadly, Destination Mars is still being retailed basically by the guys who made it. You can pick up the disc for $25 (personally I thought it was worth it, although milage may vary), if you search for "Destination Mars" DVD on eBay and check the merchant section.

Basically the film is homemade, and all the more incredible for that fact. A nifty little item.

At 5:38 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I wonder if Frog was an unfinished film that someone bought, and decided to finish as a comedy?

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

No, it was clearly made by one set of guys. There's even a 'making of' doc, although it doesn't address what I was talking about.

Like I said, the whole thing is just weird.

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous "Blockbuster online" said...

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