Return to Frogtown

2 out of 5

Directed by: Donald G. Jackson

There’s some parallel world where a dedicated Hell Comes to Frogtown fan out there develops the quirky world-building of that movie, and updates its cheeky – but pretty funny! – sense of humor, and delivers a respectable followup to it. Perhaps, more realistically, there’s a part for-the-hell-of-it / part cash-in followup that embraces the B-vibe to the utmost, and gives us a trashy cult sub-classic, that gets more classic upon repeat views.

…Or director / writer Donald G. Jackson can aim for that latter bit, misfire on the former bit, and craft a rather slog of a flick that is probably more Z-grade. To be fair, there is passion here, and Jackson does his very best with zero budget and, like, one cliff-side set and one warehouse set – acceptably amusing production design, a non-static camera, some fair lighting – but oof, this otherwise picks up on the worst tendencies of Hell, and takes the “story” in a particularly uninteresting direction. And while the cast is also doing what they can, Robert Z’Dar doesn’t have the sparkle of Roddy Piper – recast as Sam Hell – nor does Denice Duff balance cheesecake-awareness / snark as well as Sandahl Bergman as the recast Dr. Spangle.

In “Frogtown 2,” our goofy redirect on the story introduces the “Texas Rocket Rangers,” who use a Rocketeer-esque suit and jetpack to, uh, police Texas, I guess, with an onboard digital “F.U.Z.Z.Y.” navigation personality, played by Rhonda Shear, why not, who can join Charles Napier and Lou Ferrigno and others as here-for-a-few-lines cast members who, unfortunately, don’t elevate the quality of the flick much beyond recognizability. Besides completely ditching most of the story from the first move – or maybe because of that – this setup is worth some giggles, but after the general premise of Hell / Spangle having to sneak into Frogtown to rescue a downed ranger (Ferrigno), the movie slows to an absolute repetitive crawl. Some fight scenes / sequences are legitimately repeated; a story about the frogs trying to use the “secret” of the rockets to maybe turn everyone into frogs would possibly be interesting if, again, this wasn’t pretty much completely explored after a few minutes; and whatever internal logic there is behind the plan gets lost during one of the 19 iterations of watching Ferrigno in frog prison slowly turn green (get it?).

The enjoyable eye-rolls of the sex humor in Hell Comes to Frogtown – perhaps without co-writer Randall Frakes? – is turned into the most unpunny of puns, and lots of letting the camera dawdle over butts in g-strings. There’s a kid frog puppet that’s worth some laughs, and respect for including three original songs in the movie, including one played by a member of The Byrds? Sure.