Frogs (film)

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Theatrical poster for Frogs
Directed by George McCowan
Produced by George Edwards
Peter Thomas
Written by Robert Hutchison (story and screenplay)
Robert Blees (screenplay)
Starring Ray Milland
Sam Elliott
Joan Van Ark
Adam Roarke
Judy Pace
Lynn Borden
Mae Mercer
David Gilliam
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Mario Tosi
Edited by Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates
  • March 10, 1972 (1972-03-10) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget Unknown

Frogs is a 1972 horror film directed by George McCowan.[1] The film falls into the "eco-horror" category since it tells the story of an upper-class U.S. Southern family who are victimized by several different animal species, including snakes, birds, and lizards, as well as the occasional butterfly. Nature, the movie suggests, may be justified in exacting revenge on this family because of its patriarch's abuse of the local ecology.[2] The film was theatrically released on March 10, 1972.


Wildlife photographer Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) is taking photographs of the local flora and fauna as he canoes through a swamp surrounding an island upon which the affluent mansion estate of the wealthy and influential Crockett family is located. Also evident throughout the swamp are numerous indicators of pollution, which Pickett believes are connected to the pesticides the Crockett's use on their island plantation. After Clint (Adam Roarke) accidentally tips over Smith's canoe, he and his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark) escort Smith to the family mansion, where he meets the entire Crockett family. The grouchy, wheelchair-bound patriarch, Jason (Ray Milland), intends on spending the next day enjoying both the 4th of July and his own birthday celebrations uninterrupted. Due to the mutual dislike of the fauna around the mansion, Jason has sent a man named Grover to spray pesticide in order to get rid of the amphibians. Pickett later discovers Grover's corpse covered in snake bites in the swamp not far from the house. Despite this warning, Jason continues with his celebrations the next day.

Early the following morning, Michael Crockett sets out to check on a downed telephone line. He discovers that the phone connection is dead but, before he can return home, he for an unknown reason begins shooting at birds who aren't aggressive whatsoever. Aiming to scare off the intimidating avian menace with gunfire, he accidentally shoots himself in the leg and is rendered immobile beneath a tree which is almost completely covered with an strangely-colored, low-hanging moss. To Michael's horror, a horde of tarantulas descend from the branches and begin to swarm over him. With their fangs piercing his flesh, the strange moss seems to attack him also, binding him tightly as the spider's paralyzing venom overwhelms his nervous system. From within the cocoon of webbing and moss the tarantulas begin to feed.

Back on the estate, Jason's sister, Iris, sends her son, Kenneth, into the greenhouse to collect flowers for a centerpiece. As he gathers up the flowers he fails to notice the dozens of large, black lizards entering behind him. The lizards swarm over the stacked shelves, knocking over numerous jars of powerful chemicals, startling Kenneth. In his panic he falls into the shelves, sending further bottles of noxious compounds crashing to the ground. The pungent liquids quickly coalesce into a lethal gas, and Kenneth is asphyxiated by the toxic cloud.

Seeing the danger posed by the animals, Pickett suggests that everyone should leave the island, but Jason is adamant that nothing will ruin his day. Meanwhile, Iris is lured into the path of several frogs and snakes while chasing after a butterfly. Trying to escape, she falls into a small swamp of leeches which latch on to her until she manages to pull them off. Massively fatigued, she falls near a rattlesnake which promptly bites and kills her. Her husband Stuart comes looking for her, only to meet a grisly end when he falls into the swamp and is eaten by an alligator.

Charles and Maybelle, Jason's long-suffering butler and cook, decide to leave along with Kenneth's fiancee, Bella, on Pickett's advice. Clint takes them across the lake in his speedboat. Clint stays behind and searches the nearby grocery store while the others walk on. A flock of birds appear and they run off behind a building. Their fate is left unknown (Though a strewn open suitcase later seen likely suggests they perished). Clint discovers his boat has been untethered and swims to reach it, but a water moccasin kills him in the water. His wife, Jenny (Lynn Borden), witnesses this through binoculars and attempts to rescue him, but gets stuck in the lake mud and is killed by a large snapping turtle.

Karen and Pickett decide to leave with Clint and Jenny's children, leaving Jason behind due to his refusal to join them, his mind still intent on celebrating. They cross the lake in Pickett's canoe encountering alligators and more water snakes, which Pickett dispatches with the boat paddle as well as a shotgun. They eventually make it ashore and to a road where they hitch a ride with a woman and her son. As the woman tells the four survivors that they are driving towards Jefferson City and have not seen a single person or car on the road all day, the boy shows them a huge frog he took from summer camp where his mother picked him up. Their fate is left unknown.

Later that night, Jason, now alone in his mansion (save for his dog Colonel), witnesses hundreds of frogs breaking into the house and staring at him. Looking around the room at his stuffed animal trophies adds to his tension and he collapses out of his wheelchair from a heart attack and dies. The frogs croak louder and louder as they hop over his corpse. The final shot shows all the lights in the mansion flickering out for good. A post-credit scene shows an animated frog swallowing a human hand before hopping off-screen.


Actor Role
Ray Milland Jason Crockett
Sam Elliott Pickett Smith
Joan Van Ark Karen Crockett
Adam Roarke Clint Crockett
Judy Pace Bella Garrington
Lynn Borden Jenny Crockett

Elliott has two "beefcake" scenes in which he removes his shirt; these scenes reportedly helped him earn the title role in the 1976 movie Lifeguard.[citation needed]


The film was shot in Walton County, Florida, on the Emerald Coast in and around the Wesley House, an old southern mansion located in Eden Gardens State Park in the town of Point Washington, situated on Tucker Bayou off Choctawhatchee Bay.


Frogs received a score of 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


The film was given a "PG" rating by the MPAA.


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