• Matt Dod

Hell Comes To Frogtown

Updated: Apr 27

Check out the video on this topic, and loads more informative and interesting pro wrestling content, from legendary wrestling rivals to the dark side of the ring, here.



HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN

Donald G. Jackson, R.J. Kizer, Robert J. Kizer

January 1988



BIO ON RODDY PIPER


In 2019, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper is revered as a beloved member of the WWE Hall of Fame. But this is not how this illustrious career started.


After coming to WWE in 1984 after being remembered as one of the late ‘70s most dastardly villains.


Because what is scarier or more villainous than a muscular, 6-foot Canadian marching to the ring, adorned in a generic tartan kilt to the sound of bagpipes? Yeah, I don’t get the connection either, but this was the 80’s – these things didn’t concern people at the time.


Coming out of the NWA, the late 80s saw the astronomical rise of wrestling’s most iconic captivating personalities. Becoming a fan-favourite with his charged interview sections that rank among the most entertaining in the industries history.


Whether spraying Morton Downey Jr at Wrestlemania or breaking Cyndi Lauper’s gold record Piper was always surrounded by in-ring controversy.


Driving WWE’s success in the 80’s and being recognised as one of the key factors in their global expansion. With a penchant for pushing the envelope, he battles on MTV’s genre spanning ‘War to settle the score’ building his reputation to headline the very first Wrestlemania and colliding with A-team star Mr.T in a famous battle at Wrestlemania 2 the following year.


Apart from his physical strengths and formidable in-ring prowess, Hot Rod, was more respected for his mastery on the microphone. He was extremely charismatic and humourous with a sharp tongue and a keen ear, never missing an opportunity for a witty comeback.


He revolutionised the talk segment within wrestling, hosting his thoroughly successful and often copied Piper’s Pit. A series that spanned 30 years and often ended in show stealing catastrophes and storyline progression. Most times, the unexpected would happen, such as the night when he shattered a coconut over the head of Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka.


WrestleMania 3 marked a significant night for Piper, as it was his last match before a brief retirement from the ring. Piper defeated Adrian Adonis – this absolute ham hock - by using a Sleeper Hold and added to the humiliating loss by shaving his nemesis's head. As Adonis’ locks were shorn, the Silverdome erupted, earning Piper one of his biggest ovations in WWE.


Piper received his first taste of Championship gold on January the 19, 1992 when he defeated The Mountie for the Intercontinental Championship. At WrestleMania 8, he took on Bret "Hit Man" Hart in another classic match, losing the gold but remaining a fan favourite.


Over the next 10 years, Piper found smaller success in other wrestling promotions before returning home to WWE for his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2005. Even after his first official retirement, he continued to regularly unleash chaos on television. He won the tag-titles with Ric Flair defeating the Spirit Squad at cyber Sunday in 2006.


Yes that was 52 year old Roddy Piper and 57 year old Ric Flair, both legends yes, but also both retired – defeating a team consisting of young up and comers 35 years their junior. Realism.


He continued to feature in segments as a verified legend including WWE spin-off show ‘Legend’s House’ which allowed a new generation of fans to appreciate Piper’s magnetic personality as well as multiple memorable in-ring segments with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin.


“Rowdy” Roddy Piper claimed he was born to cause controversy, and his wild, freewheeling life proved that statement to be more than hyperbole.




PREMISE


A fresh and never before tried trope of action adventure media - Following the fallout of a great nuclear holocaust, humanity is depleted and desperate, struggling to survive in the wastelands.


Oh I wonder how this will turn out.


A temporary Women’s government is formed to gather the remaining Fertile human males, who have become one of the rarest commodities on the planet.


Okay, that’s a little more interesting, a bit sexually aggressive, but cool.


The world is filled with giant mutant humanoid frogs who have started their own communities. Giant humanoid frogs. Get the fucking popcorn because I’m all in.


This modestly budgeted sci-fi adventure follows Rowdy Roddy Piper’s character ‘Sam Hell’ – get it, Hell comes to Frogtown. Why not use his first name in the title? Sam comes to Frogtown sounds much more friendly.


Sam Hell is a one dimensional hero character, with his heaving muscles, flowing hair and Schwaternegger esc one-liners….

SEX


The film uses sex as a huge draw. It’s marketing campaigns, VHS box art and promotional posters all heavily featuring a slave-girl, princess Leia looking woman with a futuristic post apocalyptic bra and pants on.


The film borders on soft-core pornography in some scenes. Something that the plot only seemingly strives to facilitate. The whole premise of the film revolving around a handsome young stud impregnating survivors of a post nuclear world, at points at least seems only to allow these scenes and to attract the kind of audience that comes with it.


I mean one scene, a passion love romp, something that adds to the story – all fine – but what purpose does the use of sex add to this story? The women are feeling extra promiscuous because of a lack of men, fine – but does every woman have to be magnetically drawn to the ‘hot rod’ – unable to control their urges and throwing themselves seemingly in deaths way to get a piece of that sweet Canadian pie?


There’s no passion, no romance or love. Nobody learns much or changes at all, it doesn’t effect the plot of the film or have an real consequences for any of the characters – but hey maybe I’m just a little prudish and repressed.


Or maybe the film knew it was a pile of doggy defecation and elongated these sexual scenes, promoting them more to attract more viewers. But hey, if it worked then sex sells - the old adage.


The companies, directors and actors can be looked upon negatively for producing this level of film, but they do so because that is what is wanted by the audience and who will usually spend more on films that involve such gratuitous sex scenes (by 1980's standards anyway) – but then they only wan that because that is what the studios sell to them and thus the cycle continues.


sThus why I have a woman in a bikini in my thumbnail – need to sell out to make those 100 views & get those first 100 reads.


As an aside - All of you who clicked onto this post because there is a woman in a bikini in the thumbnail, I’m proud of you.





TECHNIQUE


The sound editing is a little janky at times and it can be had to hear some of the dialogue. Which it turns out is actually a great thing as the writing of conversation in this film is not it’s strong point and the score by David Shapiro is perfectly fitting with a film of this era in this genre. It’s cheesy rock and a heavily synth-y take on a futuristic hell from 1988.


Roddy Piper is perfect in this role from a stand point of watching it as a film that is so bad it’s actually entertaining. Was he the Daniel Day Lewis of 1988 – no he was more the Denise Lewis of 1988, who is a lesser known and moderately successful athlete in the 90s.


By that I mean that she is an athlete first who doesn’t know the first thing about acting – the difference being that she never appeared in a Hollywood production with millions of dollars as a budget.


There are some nice shots, from cinematographers Donald G. Jackson & Enrico Picard - mainly of the ranch where the movie was almost entirely filmed. A filming location notorious for it’s role in a whole host of different 70's and 80's films such as; Twilight Zone, the movie & Escape From New York.


The desert landscapes and sprawling skies lend themselves to the feel of a post-nuclear world as do the burnt out and derelict production buildings and farming outhouses.






FROGTOWN


The best technical aspect of this film in my opinion, is the practical effects and make-up. Headed up by June Brickman who designed the make-up.


Cynthia Barr who designed the costumes.


Nothing is realistic or frightening, nor is it supposed to be – but entertaining, a little unusual and broadly creative.


The set designs leave a little to be desired and I feel add nothing to the film. If anything you can really see in this aspect where the budget was - by modern standards, incredibly tight.


Only a very few locations are revealed to us along our journey through a couple of desert scenes and into the belly of Frogtown. But that adds little worth mentioning to the world or lore of the film.





WRESTLING AT THE TIME


Roddy Piper was innovative in more ways than one, his charisma, confidence and rugged good-looks made him one of the first big stars of the squared circle to make the transition onto the silver screen.


He took a few years away from wrestling in the mid-80's to pursue a full time role as b-list action movie star in mostly critical flops, but did prove the exception to the curse of the shit wrestling film with his starring role in the cult classic ‘They Live’.


And yes for years almost every other movie even remotely associated with a wrestler, or even containing wrestling themes went straight to VHS, made little splash in any box offices and were generally considered cheap, and low brow.


But even though to this day only a very small percentage of films with wrestlers in them have ever a glimmer of something that I’d personally enjoy watching – we have seen Dave My Boy Batista shine in several roles including mega blockbuster marvel films – the rock to that same note, was the highest paid actor in Hollywood for a stretch as played the leading man in numerous films which may not be critically successful, but certainly draw in a lot of money.


Check out the video on this topic, and loads more informative and interesting pro wrestling content, from legendary wrestling rivals to the dark side of the ring, here.

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