Friday, March 13, 2009

Animal Attraction: Frogs(1972)

I have always enjoyed watching documentaries about the natural world on cable TV. The Discovery Channel is, I admit, one of my favorite channels. Today there is a wider variety of programming on cable television regarding animals and wildlife, shows like Animal Rescue, which showcases the efforts of the various big city ASPCA's to catch those guilty of animal cruelty, and another show that chronicles a type of animal cruelty of it's own: When Animals Attack. This television show is a compilation of footage of often violent and bizarre encounters between man and the various members of our planet's animal kingdom.

Though "When Animals Attack" was not inspired by the movie that is the topic of this blog, it no doubt could have been. The film I am referring to is Frogs, a horror movie released in 1972 by American International Pictures and produced by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff.

The film's story: Jason Crockett(played by Ray Milland) is a surly and generally miserable millionaire who has gathered family and friends to his isolated island mansion for a party. Crockett displays a blatant disdain for many of his guests, including the non-human kind, much of his dislike for the local animallife manifest in the rampant pollution on the island. Despite grumbling from some of the early arrivals at his mansion, Jason Crockett is determined to have his party. The problem: the local animal life has decided to attend the party as well. The island becomes overrun with, of course, frogs, but also among the animals who have decided to join Crockett's gathering are aggressive rattlers and water moccasins, several alligators, a small army of lizards, birds, tarantulas, and even one very large and formidable-looking loggerhead turtle.

One by one the guests begin having very unpleasant encounters with these critters, including old man Crockett himself (no spoilers).

Observations: This film is a an early, somewhat simplified effort to show the "nature run amok" movie motif. Does it work? I think so, even if not on a grand scale. The attacks of the various critters in this movie are often exacerbated by the stupidity of the victims, their own actions(or inactions) contributing to their demise. The "tarantula" scene was creepy, and would definitely give arachnophobes goosebumps. The acting is serviceable: Sam Elliott is decent enough as the photographer Pickett Smith, and Joan Van Ark looks great! Ray Milland's portrayal of the sullen, self aggrandizing and perpetually cranky "Jason Crockett" is the best of the group.

The DVD of this movie is presented in either full frame or widescreen(1.85:1) options, and includes scene selection and a theatrical trailer. Fans of campy horror will like this one, which I recommend. If you are a casual horror movie fan and have a Netflix queue to burn use it on this older classic. I think you'll be glad you did.

Click the title of this blog to see the MGM Region 1 DVD of this movie for sale at or copy and paste this URL into your address bar:

The theatrical trailer for Frogs(1972):