‘Hell Comes to Frogtown’: A Look Back at Roddy Piper’s Weird, Amphibious Sci-Fi Flick

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The debate over the best wrestler-turned-actor has never been louder, as fans took to Twitter to argue over whether Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s electrifying entertainment style was more screen-worthy than Dave Bautista’s focus on traditional acting, especially in recent films, like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Blade Runner 2049.

The truth is, it’s very likely that neither of them will ever have a performance that holds a candle to former wrestling superstar “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s in John Carpenter’s beloved ‘80s horror-sci-fi flick, They Live. Piper’s classic line of “I am here to chew bubblegum, and kicks ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum”, has entered the cultural zeitgeist of film, and will forever be remembered in all of cinematic history.

The same year that They Live released, Piper starred in another, lesser-known post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, this one, much cheesier, and much stranger. It’s been 35 years since the release of Hell Comes to Frogtown, and it’s time we give this movie its due.

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For those unfamiliar with Sam Hell’s first adventure (which is probably most of you), Hell Comes to Frogtown is a post-apocalyptic tale that follows a criminal wanderer by the name of Sam Hell (Piper), who, now under complete government control, must be escorted into enemy territory to retrieve a group of captured young, fertile women from a clan of mutant frog people, led by Commander Toty.

Sam Hell must bring them into the safe zone and impregnate them with what the government hopes to be future soldiers. The reason? Because 68% of the male population has been lost in nuclear wars, the remaining men are mostly sterile, and Sam Hell has the most potent sperm counts recorded since the days of old.


Okay, yes, that is a lot, and it is very silly, but its silliness is absolutely what makes Hell Comes to Frogtown a must-watch for people that love the so-bad-it’s-good types of movies. Roddy Piper knows he’s in an odd, semi-erotic Mad Max parody, and he chews the scenery with an unparalleled appetite. The rest of the small cast (that aren’t in full-sized frog suits) jump on board too, as Sandahl Bergman (Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja) and Rory Calhoun (Motel Hell) match his energy in every scene.

New World Pictures

Speaking of the frog suits; they were one of the biggest highlights of the movie! All the makeup was done by Steve Wang, a major monster-maker in the industry, who worked with Stan Winston and Rick Baker on massive horror hits like The Monster Squad, Predator, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and Harry and the Hendersons. It’s no surprise that the frog-people looked great in this one with the level of talent that went into creating them.

Though the film was never well-received by critics, never considered a classic, and never even viewed as good by a general audience, there’s something to be said for its uniqueness. In my many years of watching stuff like this, I can’t say I’ve ever seen Roddy Piper running through the desert in a steel chastity belt (to protect the assets, of course), and defeating frog-monsters in hand-to-hand combat.

New World Pictures

Hell Comes to Frogtown offered a lot of fun for what it was. Even outside of its strangely sexual premise (anti-condom ads everywhere; Sam Hell putting a bag over a frog-woman’s head before they copulated), there’s plenty of battles, explosions, car chases, chainsaw-wielding frog-monsters, and one-liners to grease the way to see the movie through.

The directors seemed to go their separate ways after Hell Comes to Frogtown as well. R.J. Kizer went on to work in sound and dialogue editing in huge movies like Deadpool, the new Planet of the Apes movies, The Dark Knight Rises.


Donald G. Jackson stuck around in the genre of fun, cranking out fun, weirdly-genre specific B-movies, like Roller Blade, Roller Blade Warriors: Taken by Force, The Roller Blade Seven, and Rollergator. He also continued the Frogtown series with three more films, including Frogtown II, Toad Warrior, and Max Hell Frog Warrior, though Roddy Piper didn’t return for any of the sequels.

While Hell Comes to Frogtown may not be a masterpiece, or even the most memorable performance of Roddy Piper’s short acting career, after 35 years, it still makes a great partner with some nachos, beer, and friends looking for a fun watch.


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