Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987)

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987), directed by Donald G. Jackson.

Nuclear war was bad for the human race but the Batrachian order has made rapid progress and now causes as much trouble in the wasteland as humans ever did.

Big problem: most humans are now sterile. Exceptions -- like the notoriously virile and potent outlaw Sam Hell -- are drafted into a special medical corp and sent on impregnation tours. The women-led government is zealous in guarding its resources: his man-parts are encased in an electronic chastity belt that (a) delivers painful voltage if he tries to escape, and (b) will actually explode if he gets too far from his lovely controller, the svelte Nurse Spangle.

It's both half-baked and often funny. Lots of visual humor and satirical bits. The original script was more raunchy. Totally unacceptable today, of course: the nurses give wasteland females relaxing drugs to make them more accommodating.

Only in the 1980s: that decade of studio wreckage and gloriously goofy home video opportunities. Director Jackson and writer Randall Frakes co-produced this as a direct-to-video 16mm project when New World Pictures became interested, increased the budget by 10x and decided to make it into a big 35mm theatrical release. Now everyone and his second cousin messed with it and ruined much of the original conception. Frakes was actually banned from the set but worked secretly anyway. Then New World nearly went bankrupt and the movie had to go direct to video anyway.

That's Hollywood!

For a non-actor, wrestler Roddy Piper is really pretty good as the funny hunky hero. All the best tough guys have a self-deprecating sense of humor.

I'm always happy to see Sandahl Bergman. She started as a Broadway dancer -- as in All That Jazz (1979) -- and fascinated the eye and imagination in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Red Sonja (1985).

I also want to thank Cec Verrell for giving her all as the tough driver and machine gun operator who wouldn't mind sampling Sam Hell's goods.

Also with William Smith (Conan the Barbarian (1982) again!) and Rory Calhoun, last seen in The Red House (1947) made only 40 years earlier.

Available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. The commentary track by partners Jackson and Frakes is a great tutorial on the risks and opportunities of independent filmmaking and deal-making with studios.

They came to Hollywood as special effects guys working for Roger Corman and collaborated with James Cameron.