Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Frogs (1972)

FROGS

WRITERS: Screenplay by Robert Hutchison & Robert Blees
Story by Robert Hutchison

DIRECTOR: George McCowan

STARRING: Ray Milland as Jason Crockett
Sam Elliott as Pickett Smith
Joan Van Ark as Karen
Adam Roarke as Clint
Judy Pace as Bella
Lynn Borden as Jenny
Mae Mercer as Maybelle
David Gilliam as Michael
Nicholas Cortland as Kenneth

QUICK CUT: Pickett Smith is out taking some photographs of some garbage when he gets invited to the July 4th celebration of the Crockett family, along with every critter in the woods.

THE MORGUE

Pickett - A photographer and environmentalist who is in the wrong canoe at the wrong time. A stoic sort that makes friends easily, and clearly steps up when needed.

Jason Crockett - An old man, set in his ways, and has made himself rich throughy years of work. He’s a bit arrogant, but somehow comes across as not being an utter monster.

Karen - One of Jason’s children, and pretty much summed up as ‘love interest’. She does often stand up to her father, and one of the few who he will listen to.

 The other white meat.

The other white meat.

TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back Triskelions! It's time for our second when animals attack movie, with the very inappropriately named, Frogs! First of all, apparently the movie is full of TOADS, but better people than I can confirm that. Let's just say it's rotten with amphibians and call it good. But also, the frogs, they do nothing. Anyways, let's get right into this.

After watching Sam Elliott paddle through and take pictures of the credits, he moves out to the lake, where he gets swamped by a motorboat driven by Clint, and his sister Karen. They offer him a ride back to dry land (after Pickett gives Clint a soaking of his own) and invite him to their family home.

That home is the large, palatial vacation home of wealthy businessman and family patriarch, Jason Crockett. He's a grumpy sort, but he actually doesn't seem like a BAD man. He's more a 'set in his ways' and 'my way is the right way' sort. He could have been a lot worse.

 Have some gratuitous beefcake!

Have some gratuitous beefcake!

We spend a lot of time as Pickett is introduced to the Crocketts and their guests, and all this is interspersed with shots of the frogs lurking around the edges. I also love the near constant presence of their croaking and chirping. It's a good reminder that they're there. I actually wish they did more of it. Both with the sound AND the frogs, but I’ll get to that…

Also, the people are complaining about all the chirping, and man. Cityfolk problems, am I right? Not used to the quiet, and all that chirping driving them up the walls. I have a small pond, and I've gotten used to the noise my frogs make.

Pickett gets ready to check out the private island, now that he's made nice with the family and gotten Jason's permission. But Jason also asks him to keep an eye out for Grover, whom he sent out to find the monster at the end of this review.

And boy, for a movie all about Frogs, we sure are running into a lot of snakes on this trip. Speaking of which, when Pickett does find Grover's body, there are snakes crawling all over it, so... FROGS! everyone!

 Near!

Near!

 …FAR!!

…FAR!!

So while he's looking over, the dead man Grover, whom he's overlooked before...I can't help but notice that between cuts, his eyes open. Sigh.

Pickett returns to the house, to fill Jason in on Grover and the situation, and meanwhile, there's a snake dangling from a chandelier over the dinner table. THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!

Someone finally notices it and screams, Jason wheels his way in, and shoots it nonchalantly off its perch. He then insists everyone sit down to eat once the butler picks up the danger noodle.

Uh, um, is no one gonna even bother to change the plate the snake at least landed on? If not the ENTIRE TABLE'S PLACE SETTINGS because of exploded snake bits all over everything??

 We heard there’s a party??

We heard there’s a party??

The next day comes, and it's a combination July 4th celebration, and birthday party for four members of the Crockett family. This year's is sure to be memorable.

Jason sends Michael off to see if he can figure out why the phone lines are down, and he takes off in a jeep. I'm sure this won't end badly.

Pickett wishes Jason a happy birthday, and tells him that he feels like all the pesticides and such have riled up the creatures of their little island. So we get a slight attempt at them doing an environmental message as Pickett checks the island out some more.

 Oh my god! That's THE Sam Elliott!! :D

Oh my god! That's THE Sam Elliott!! :D

While Pickett and Michael do their parallel wanderings through the woods and swamp and whatnot, we see tons of creepy crawlies...except for almost no frogs. Sigh.

Michael goes investiagting, shooting at a few animals to clear the way, and the guy manages to shoot HIMSELF in the leg.

A bunch of spiders see an opportunity and crawl all over him. THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!!

On top of that, the vines and such around the area start growing and wrapping around him and ???? And also, that is not the frogs!!

 Damned kudzu!!

Damned kudzu!!

Meanwhile, we set up a few more deaths to come, with Kenneth heading to the greenhouse for some things, and Iris going on a butterfly hunt.

As Kenneth is getting some flowers, a bunch of lizards and geckos and all sorts of everything EXCEPT FROGS all crawl in, and start knocking over poisonous chemicals, causing the poor guy to asphyxiate.

The guy watches the bottles fall, shrugs it off, keeps doing whatever he's doing, until it's too late. I still can't believe he didn't get out. At the very least, he could've been confronted with a wall of snakes or something.

 You coulda saved your life by switching to Geico!!

You coulda saved your life by switching to Geico!!

Pickett returns, and finds Kenneth, and so does his girlfriend. She runs off to the group, loudly declaring Kenneth is dead, and the secret is out. Everyone starts to try and figure out what to do, while Pickett and the butler Charles go to take care of the body.

He asks Charles if there's anyplace they can put the body, "Yes, Master Jason has a special room to hide his bodies in." "What??" "What?"

And oh right, Iris is still out looking for a butterfly, and we spend a LOT of time stumbling about with her, which I really don't think is warranted.

She runs into snakes, and lizards, and even leeches, and once again, EVERYTHING BUT FROGS. And let's be real here, she may have been bitten by a snake and INSTANTLY died (THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!!) but we all know it's all the butterfly's fault for leading her out here.

 …because NOBODY suspects the butterfly!

…because NOBODY suspects the butterfly!

Meanwhile, Stuart is out looking for his wife, and runs afoul of an alligator, THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!, and I kinda love we get to see some good ol' alligator wrasslin’.

Pickett tries to convince everyone to leave the island, and everyone agrees...except for Jason. Who is so set in his ways, so insistent that his plans go as they always have, but he grumpily relents and lets anyone who wants to leave, go.

Clint gets everyone in the motorboat to ferry them to civilisation but when they reach the shore, the bait shop is abandoned.

 The frogs have come to see everyone off, at least.

The frogs have come to see everyone off, at least.

The movie almost ALMOST achieves something great here. It has the right idea at Jessie's bait shop being abandoned, giving that sense of dread spreading beyond just this small island, but it's still too remote. This comes so close to nailing that terror of being a global problem, beyond just being a small incident, but never quite works.

...And then the group is attacked by seagulls, THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!, and suddenly the movie becomes Birdemic??

Clint drops everyone off, then tries to get back to the island for the next group, and/or to help prepare for the offensive. But the clever animals have made the boat float away. He tries to steal another one, but can't find the keys. He sees his boat out in the water, and decides to swim for it.

Which is the worst place to be, as a snake comes after him. I think. I'm not 100% certain the snake is what ultimately does him in, but I can guarantee what it wasn't. THAT'S NOT THE FROGS!

 Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes??

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes??

Clint's wife rushes to the shore of the island, trying to call out to him, and she runs afoul of a snapping turtle, which is absurd in its own right. But also, that is not the frogs!!

The frogs gather outside the estate, and Pickett goes to get some gasoline to light those froggers up. But when he gets back, they've scattered, showing their intelligence.

Pickett, Karen, and Clint's kids are all ready to get the dodge out of hell, but Jason is STILL being stubborn, all "Crocketts never quit!" and yells at them to leave if they want to leave! So...they do.

Everyone gets into Pickett's canoe and he starts paddling his way across the lake, but the critters aren't about to let them pass so easily. Pickett somehow finds an excuse to remove his shirt and fight the creepy crawlies off.

 Only Sam Elliott is strong enough, nay MAN ENOUGH to fight off nature AND WIN.

Only Sam Elliott is strong enough, nay MAN ENOUGH to fight off nature AND WIN.

They reach the other side, and finally get some help from someone driving by, saying they haven't seen another living soul for hours! They have zero idea what's going on however, so they haven't even bothered to turn on a radio?? because the kid in the front seat shows off the giant frog he caught at camp!

Whuich…y'know, I would be more intimitdated by the fact they ended up in such a dire situation, IF THE FROGS HAD DONE ANYTHING AT ALL UP TO THIS POINT.

In some ways, the movie feels like it wanted to end right here, since it freeze frames on the monster sized toad, but I guess we do still have to deal with that stubborn Jason.

 Wheee!

Wheee!

The frogs have broken through the windows, circling around Jason, until the phone rings. Finally! He answers it...but the line is dead?? THE FROGS ARE CALLING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!

He sits around in his study, all the stuffed animal heads looming and leering, and this is the personification of some forms of white guilt, as nature finally has its revenge.

And oh hey! Someone finally died from Frogs...so of course, credits.

 WARNING: Picture may not represent anything that actually happens in the movie.

WARNING: Picture may not represent anything that actually happens in the movie.

TRISK ASSESSMENT

Video: It’s grainy, but it definitely feels 70s.

Audio: I feel like it’s a little lacking, but I do enjoy the constant chirping, which gives it points.

Sound Bite: “The snails are plotting against us??”

Body Count: The movie has a respectable body count…EVEN IF NONE OF THEM ARE FROGS.

1 - 23:30 minutes in, and we find the dead Grover.
2 - Michael is a victim of his own poor gun safety...and spiders.
3 - Kenneth gets poisoned in the greenhouse by Mister Lizard.
4 - Iris gets killed instantly by a snake bite.
5 - Stuart gets eaten by a crocogator.
6 - Clint gets attacked by a water moccasin probably
7 - Clint's wife runs afoul of a snapping turtle
8 - The frogs finally show up and kill Jason

Best Corpse: I’m kinda partial to Michael being attacked by the vines, as bizarre as that is.

Blood Type - D+: Is there any blood in this? I don’t think we even see any when they shoot the snake?

Peak Corpse: When they find Kenneth’s body, the news spreads quickly.

Sex Appeal: Lotsa shirtless guys, woohoo!

Drink Up! Finish your drink any time a frog actually kills someone

Movie Review: Taking into account when this was made, and a slower pace is expected, it’s not too bad. I enjoyed it, but it’s a long wait for that final act when things just go batshit. My problems with the narrative are obvious from the review, and it mostly comes down to being inappropriately titled, and not QUITE so much with the movie itself. It’s a fun little animal attacks movie, and the acting of the leads is really good. Three out of five snakes.

Entertainment Value: The pacing is what really does this movie in, but like I said, once things happen, they are a hell of a lot of fun, and the kills are wacky. And watching a young Sam Elliott is such a treat. Nothing really stands out though, but it’s a good time in that quaint 70s way. Three out of five snapping turtles.

What? There aren’t even gonna be frogs in my ratings.