The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Frogtown II (1992)

Back in April (my birthday, April 1st to be exact), I was on the Comeuppance Reviews podcast to talk about our top five Robert Z'Dar movies. I felt like I needed to see this to have as complete a list as possible, so I found it on Daily Motion--only it was reversed! That's right, the video image was reversed, so I had to find a plug-in for my browser that put it back the way it was supposed to be. Until we get a nice Blu-ray version of this, I guess this is the kind of thing we need to do to watch it.

Frogtown II has Z'Dar taking over for Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role. In this sequel, a mutant frog leader has taken a scientist (Brion James) hostage, and is forcing him to make a serum that turns humans into frog people too. When fellow Ranger Lou Ferrigno is captured behind enemy lines, they start using the serum on him. Now their captain, Charles Napier (Napes), has no choice but to send their best, Sam Hell, in to save the day. With him he's taking scientist Dr. Spangle (Denice Duff). But when they get into Frogtown, things go sideways, and now it's going to take Hell everything he's got to get out alive.

This one was fun enough for what we had here. It was a fun cast, a fun concept, fun execution. I don't know that it touches the classic status of the original, this was more the 3am block on Up All Night level as opposed to the 11pm block, but if you were up that late on a Saturday this would've been a good watch. Speaking of Up All Night, we had Rhonda Shear playing Fuzzy, their communicator. Z'Dar was great as Sam Hell, playing the hero with equal parts serious guy who saves the day and tongue-in-cheek in on the joke comedic lead, and it felt like the rest of the cast fell in and played it all the same way. It is very low budget though, and, again, isn't quite what the first one is, but for the film it was, it worked for me.

Z'Dar finally hits double digits here at the DTVC, with this being his tenth film. Out of those 10, I think this is the first one where he plays a good guy, and may be the only one of his films I've ever seen where he plays a good guy. I think his size and face got him more typecast as a baddie, but seeing how well he did here, that's too bad. He has 122 credits in IMDb, of which a brief scan says maybe 75% would qualify to be here on the site, so he could potentially get up there into some of the more prestigious clubs. On the other hand, a lot of his films are in the lower tiers, which means we may not get to them as much. I'd say Hall of Fame this year might be a great place to start for him.

We last saw the great Brion James when we did the PM flick The Underground back in March of 2021. Here you can see he's playing the part of Carrot Top playing the scientist. It's a shame Brion is longer with us, because he'd have been great as Carrot Top in a Carrot Top biopic. The other DTVC mainstay we had in this was Napes, Charles Napier. Talk about your professional actor, he's the same here as he is in a big Hollywood film--the year after this came out Philadelphia, an Oscar winner, was released, and I think he was just as good in both. Guys like these add just enough to a film to make it work on a slightly higher level, and while it's too bad they're no longer with us, they gave us plenty of great moments. Here's to you guys, you're two of the great ones.

This was directed by schlock auteur Donald G. Jackson, who also did the first film, which is the only other film of his we've reviewed on here. Going back to the Up All Night connection, he also directed a film called Twisted Fate aka Kill Kill Overkill, which came out the year after this, that I remember seeing on the 3am block on Up All Night. The problem is, a lot of his movies are like this one: really tough to track down, and when you do find them, it involves things like plug-ins that reverse the image. It's too bad, because a lot of these look like a lot of fun and would be worth checking out for the site. Maybe a company will put the best ones out on Blu-ray?...

Finally, to finish the Up All Night tenor of this review, seeing Rhonda Shear was a welcomed piece of nostalgia. Early 90s sleepovers on Fridays and Saturdays usually involved Saturday Night Live, Headbangers Ball, and USA's Up All Night, especially if we didn't get a chance to go to the video store to rent a movie. I decided to look at what MTV and USA were airing the weekend I'm writing this. On Friday USA has a Fast and Furious marathon until 1:30a, when they move to a reality show about a NASCAR driver, a reality show about a wrestling star, a reality show about someone who's famous for reasons I don't even know, and then Dateline reruns; and on Saturday it's pretty much the same thing, only the Dateline reruns are replaced with reruns of Chicago PD. MTV you can probably already guess: all Ridiculousness reruns both nights. As far as SNL, it's an old trope that the older guy complains that the era he watched was the best cast, but you're talking about Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Dana Carvey, etc., with Sandler, Rock, Spade, and Farley all coming up. We really had it good back then, and while it's a shame that era is gone, at least we had it once.

And with that, let's wrap this up. You may still be able to catch this with the video in reverse on Daily Motion. Hopefully it'll get a proper release soon. And you can find the podcast episode I did with the guys from Comeuppance in their archives under the title "A Z'Dar is Born."

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