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, telling 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 containing the affluent mansion estate of the wealthy and influential Crockett family. Also evident throughout the swamp are numerous indicators of pollution, which Pickett believes are connected to the pesticides that the Crocketts use on their island plantation. After Clint (Adam Roarke) accidentally tips over Smith's canoe, he and his sister Karen(Joan Van Ark) advised him to stay and escorts him 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 sends 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 (David Gilliam) sets out to check on a downed telephone line and discovers that the phone connection is dead. Before returning home, he scare the birds off with gunfire and attempts to run, but accidentally shoots himself in the leg and is rendered immobile beneath a tree which is almost completely covered with strangely-colored, low-hanging moss. To Michael's horror, a horde of tarantulas descends from the branches and begins to swarm over him. With their fangs piercing his flesh, the strange moss attacks him also, binding him tightly as the spiders paralyzing venom that 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 Martindale (Hollis Irving) sends her son, Kenneth (Nicholas Cortland) into the greenhouse to collect flowers for a centerpiece. As he gathers up the flowers, he fails to notice 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 as Kenneth is asphyxiated by the toxic cloud and dies.

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 latches on to her until she manages to pull them off. Massively fatigued, she falls near a rattlesnake that promptly bites her and kills her. Her husband Stuart (George Skaff) comes looking for her, only to meet a grisly end when he falls into the swamp and is eaten by an alligator.

On Pickett's advice, Charles (Lance Taylor, Sr.) and Maybelle (Mae Mercer) Jason's long-suffering butler and cook decides to leave, along with Kenneth's fiancee, Bella Garrington (Judy Pace). Clint takes them across the lake in his speedboat and stays behind and searches the nearby grocery store while the others walk on. A flock of birds suddenly appear as they run off behind a building. Their fate is left unknown (though a strewn-open suitcase is seen later, suggesting 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) tries 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 as he refuses to join them. They cross the lake in his canoe encountering alligators and more water snakes dispatches with the boat paddle and a shotgun. As they're paddling, Pickett shoots an alligator dead and almost got attacked by a snake hanging from a branch that jumps on him. They eventually make it ashore and reach a road, where they hitch a ride with a woman (Carolyn Fitzsimmons) and her son (Robert Sanders). She tells them that she's heading to Jefferson City and has not seen a single person or car on the road all day as the boy shows them a huge frog he took from summer camp.

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 falls out of his wheelchair, collapses and apparently dies while the frogs croaking as they hop over his corpse. The final shot shows all the lights in the mansion flickering out for good, indicating that nature has won. 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
Mae Mercer Maybelle
David Gilliam Michael Crockett
Nicholas Cortland Kenneth Martindale
George Skaff Stuart Martindale
Lance Taylor, Sr. Charles
Hollis Irving Iris Martindale
Dale Willingham Tina Crockett
Hal Hodges Jay Crockett
Carolyn Fitzsimmons Lady in Car
Robert Sanders Young Boy in Car

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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