Before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and after Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper was a WWF wrestler on the precipice of crossover stardom. Honestly, his husky screen presence and luxurious blonde locks in both They Live (spawning Duke Nukem catchphrase “I’ve come to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”) and Hell Comes to Frogtown should’ve ossified his transition.
Hell Comes to Frogtown boasts a delectable, tongue-in-cheek premise- all the planet’s woman are infertile in the post-apocalyptic dystopia. One exception to the phenomena is Sam Hell (Piper) who is one of the few potent males left. Equipped with a governmental chastity belt, Hell is commissioned to be a breeder across the wasteland that is inhabited with mutated, anthropomorphic frogs.
Hell is directly pillaged from the Snake Plissken mold- he’s a reluctant patriot and Piper is apposite for the yeoman role. Donald G. Jackson and R. J. Kizer plaster juvenile double entendres and sexual innuendos for the lowest-common-denominator viewers on the wavelength of Troma (a doctor’s office sign’s slogan is anti-condom “take the future into your own hands”).
New World Pictures isn’t a distributor with extortionate bottom lines and therefore, most of the lines are unintelligible and should’ve been re-recorded with ADR looping. Likewise, the movie is parsimonious with pell-mell action sequences yet it undulates on schlocky felicity. Before then, it is swamped with skin-flick nudity from the voluptuous corporals to the horn-rimmed scientists.
In fact, the first quarter of the movie doesn’t slum like the sleazy plot requires. It mostly meanders through the desert while Hell flirts or is erotically accosted by his female companions (although the bondage scenario with Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) is ludicrously titillating). A B-movie like this should’ve slashed the brakes and throttled into raunchy muscularity earlier.
Luckily, Piper is the breakout star here and he doesn’t botch the opportunity. The amphibian prosthetics are much more polished than one would anticipate for the kitschy, miserly resources at hand. However, it is squandered potential when someone of John Sayles’ caliber could’ve maximized the transspecies Mad Max lunacy and witticisms behind the “greener” menace.