Back at the house, Iris sends Kenneth to the greenhouse to cut some flowers for the decorations while she chases after a rare butterfly. She tramps through the woods, passing by several magnificent specimens that are perched completely still on branches in plain view. Sadly, her butterfly-chasing is hampered by the fact that she's an idiot. Meanwhile, before Kenneth can get to the greenhouse, it serves as the bi-weekly meeting spot for I Am a Lizard Anonymous (IALA). From the tiniest gecko to the freaking hugest iguana or gila monster or whatever the big suckers are, every lizard in the tri-state area just happens to decide that now is a good time to go into the greenhouse. Kenneth finally gets there, and despite there being a lizard on every leaf of every plant at this point, and despite some of the lizards crawling around being easily two feet long or more, he doesn't notice any of them. He goes about finding the right flowers while the lizards make their move.
Now, you might think, "okay, so the tarantulas didn't actually employ any of their real natural defenses to kill Michael, but surely this army of lizards will swarm Kenneth and slowly devour him." Nope! Instead, a couple of the larger lizards creep along some high shelves, which they got up onto... somehow, and tip over conveniently placed jars of poison. There's enough poison in this greenhouse to kill Guatemala. The poisons combine into a thick mist which is in no way created by a fog machine, and Kenneth begins to choke. However, the lizards have not only let themselves into the greenhouse, but they also apparently managed to lock the door once he was in there. Kenneth's coughs are dubbed over, but oddly enough, his pounding on the greenhouse door is not, and so it is oddly silent. At last, he falls dead. Now, since the big lizards did all of the work, you might wonder just why we had to watch all of those little lizards crawl in there. The answer is, because George McCowan hates us. And with all those bottles of different poisons leaving giant death clouds floating around inside the enclosed greenhouse, wouldn't a lot of the little lizards, if not all of the lizards die too? Dammit, this move just might suck.
Smith gets back and Jason sends him to see what is taking Kenneth so long in the greenhouse. He finds the greenhouse deserted of lizards and devoid of any massive clouds of poisonous death, but he does find Kenneth's body. Bella shows up two seconds later and immediately freaks out at the sight of the body. She runs back to the house, and Smith follows to tell everyone that Kenneth is dead. Jason, moved by the death of his grandson, decides that the celebration can wait for two or three minutes and has Karen wheel him inside. Jenny takes the children upstairs and Smith, Charles, and Clint go to attend to the body. With the outdoor celebration deserted, the frogs declare their time to strike. They hop on the table, they hop into the teacups, they hop on the American flag cake, they hop everywhere! It's madness, I tell you! Total madness!
Iris, who is still out looking for that one butterfly, runs neck-first into some hanging moss and nearly strangles herself to death. I'm sorry, but if an encounter with a stationary plant can prove nearly fatal, maybe you shouldn't indulge in a hobby that involves nature. Just a thought. Soon, she finds herself lost. She suddenly stumbles upon a clutch of frogs, and her reaction is just what you'd expect - a bit of surprise mixed with amusement. They're frogs. No real threat, there. But that quickly changes as she walks on. Everyplace she looks, a different kind of snake is waiting for her. A rattlesnake strikes at something at the edge of the frame. I can only assume it's biting Iris on the leg, as her leg is mysteriously bleeding a few shots later, but her reaction is a lot closer to what one would expect from a hysterical woman who saw a rattlesnake, rather than someone who was bit by one.
She runs through the forest and keeps running into more and more snakes, including the snake from the chandelier earlier, which is coiled in exactly the same position it was in that scene. I'm not trying to say George McCowan used the same fake snake twice, but... wait, what was I saying? Iris falls into a pond and emerges covered in leeches. Theoretically, this is actually as good thing, as they can suck out the rattlesnake venom that must be coursing through her veins. But, being a less practically-minded person than I, she pulls off the leeches just in time to get bitten by another snake. That is to say, another snake bites something just off the edge of the frame it's in, and in the next shot Iris screams and falls to the ground dead. The shot keeps cutting away from her to snakes, then back to her again. Every time it goes back to her, she is bluer and bluer. In just a couple seconds it looks like she's been dead for two days. You know, just like in real life.
Stuart comes through the forest looking for Iris. He walks right past the snake-filled portion of the forest into Crocodile County. One crocodile chases him into a swamp, where he ends up wrestling with another one. Actually, he does remarkably well for a man who was expecting to find his wife chasing butterflies and ended up fighting to the death against a pair of massive, man-eating engines of doom. He gets a solid grip around the croc's jaws and holds on for dear life. But despite the fact that he actually has the upper hand in the fight, he still loses. He suddenly starts bleeding for no apparent reason and just sort of... dies to death. I honestly can't explain it. But no one liked him anyway, so it's alright.
Jason is already over Kenneth's death and wants the celebration to continue. Bella has had her fill of frogs and lizards and moss, however, and demands to leave. She convinces her black brethren to leave with her, which is most likely really just a trick Robert Blees and Robert Hutchison use to save themselves from having to write more dialogue for black characters. Clint agrees to take them across the lake. They take his speedboat to a bait store on the other side, which is strangely deserted. Out of nowhere, birds start flocking overhead, as if agitated. Bella, Maybelle, and Charles duck inside the bait shop. Clint goes back for the boat, but something has cut through the rope he used to secure it to the dock, and boat is already in the middle of the lake. Clint swims out to the boat, but we see a snake moving through the water toward him. It presumably bites him, as he yells in pain and goes under for a few seconds, although we never see the snake in the shot. He summons the rest of his strength to make it to the boat, but the snake follows him and apparently bites again, as Clint yells again and goes under for good. Again, the snake is nowhere to be found in the shot.
Jenny happens to go outside and look out on the lake just in time to see Clint struggle and sink. She rushes to the water's edge, but quickly becomes stuck in the mud. She pulls on one leg, trying to get free, but it won't budge. As she fights against the mud, a turtle slowly floats toward her. She screams, because she knows that it's only an exceedingly large amount of time before that turtle reaches her and doesn't do anything. She keeps tugging on her leg, even though we can clearly see her move it freely. The turtle swims gradually closer. She'd be in serious trouble if turtles were even remotely threatening. Luckily for Jenny, they are not. Especially this one. This turtle rocks. And the great thing is, he's probably still alive today, unlike the careers of most of the actors in this movie.
Smith and Karen resolve to leave and take Tina and Jay with them. Jason, however, refuses to go until he has properly celebrated his birthday and Independence Day by drinking bourbon and listening to ancient records of vaguely patriotic music all day. Leaving the old man behind, Smith leads the others down to the dock, where his canoe is mysteriously waiting for them. There, he finds Jenny's corpse floating in the water, covered in crabs. The cause of death is sadly unknown. My best guess is that the turtle was actually just a cleverly disguised ship full of hostile crabs, and the minute the scene shifted to the people in the house, all the crabs leapt out and injected Jenny with strychnine. Anyway, Smith loads everyone into the canoe and rows them out into the lake. He actually gives a shotgun to one of the kids to hold, for some unbeknownst reason. The canoe gets caught on a snag and Smith has to get out to get it free.
While he's out of the canoe, a snake creeps up on him. He beats it to death with his oar, because snakes are immune to shotguns. Or possibly because he's an idiot. Finally, Smith gets them all to the bait shop. There, they find Bella's luggage, but no sign of Bella, Maybelle, or Charles. I think we're supposed to assume they're all dead due to something bird-related. And that their corpses were picked clean, including all traces of bone. Or something. Smith, Karen, and the children are left alone by nature as they walk to the road and wait for someone to drive by. At last, a woman driving in a station wagon with her young son. Smith asks if he and his friends can have a ride. The woman quickly agrees, and is not even the least bit disturbed when Smith calls his friends over and one of them turns out to be a child wielding a loaded shotgun. People were just more trusting in the Seventies. As they all drive down the road, the woman's little boy turns back to Tina and Jay and shows them what he found at camp - a giant bullfrog. And... freeze-frame on the frog! Bum bum bum!
But that's not the end! No sir! We return to Jason, who is all alone in the house, drinking his bourbon and listening to an ancient record of vaguely patriotic music. Just when the music is getting to the tinny, annoying part, the frogs finally make their final assault on the house. The break through the windows and are everywhere in a minute. No one can deny that there's something a little unnerving about all those frogs just coming in at once, but still, once they actually get inside, they don't really do anything. They just sit there. The phone rings. Jason picks it up, but the line is dead again. Not even a dial tone. That makes sense, you see, because it is symbolic for this movie struggling to end. The filmmakers couldn't come up with any conceivable way for the frogs to actually kill a human being, so Jason decides it would be a good idea to try to get out his wheelchair and walk. Unfortunately, although frogs may jump straight through windows and dead phones can ring, paraplegics just can't walk, so instead he falls on his face and dies. Then some frogs jump on him. The end.
So in the end, nature gets its horrible revenge on the man who made his fortune through paper mills and other polluting companies by killing off the majority of his family through a variety of confusing ways. Thus, the audience learns a valuable lesson: kill anything with more than two legs before it gains telekinesis and kills you with flying moss or learns to read to kills you with appropriately chosen bottles of poison. "Frogs" takes a simple, straightforward horror concept - killer animals - and fucks it up so much it's practically a working girl. It baffles me how the filmmakers could go to such great lengths to get all of those animals and then never actually show them attacking anyone. As long as the animals and their victims weren't going to share any shots, George McCowan might as well have just used stock footage of animals and spliced it together with reaction shots from his actors. Of course, that would have required his actors to be capable of legitimate reactions, and that would be something of a stretch in many cases. On the whole, "Frogs" is a confusing mass of swamp gas that serves to remind us why the Seventies was the "Oops" Decade.
|Special Effects:||- 7|
|Music / Sound:||- 5|