Of Dreck & Drink: Hell Comes to Frogtown and Wild Heaven Emergency Drinking Beer

Movies Features
Of Dreck & Drink: Hell Comes to Frogtown and Wild Heaven Emergency Drinking Beer

Earlier this month, pro wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper passed away, his heart ravaged by the rigors of life within and without the squared circle, like so many other wrestlers, taken before their times. He was one of wrestling’s most colorful personalities, which is undoubtedly what Hollywood agents were attempting to capitalize on when they first began eyeing him for film roles in the wake of WWF’s inaugural Wrestlemania. Of note is the fact that Piper (real name Roderick Toombs), in all the ways that matter, beat Hulk Hogan to the punch in this regard—despite Hogan’s brief appearance in Rocky III years earlier, before the birth of Hulkamania, Roddy Piper was the first pro wrestler to be tasked with carrying a feature film as the main protagonist. He made both Hell Comes to Frogtown and cult-classic They Live before the WWF put together Hogan’s first star vehicle, No Holds Barred.

They Live remains a beloved genre staple thanks to the story and direction of John Carpenter, but Hell Comes the Frogtown is prime Dreck & Drink material, coming from a far weirder source—the wayfaring imagination of director Donald G. Jackson. It’s a profoundly unusual film, starring Piper as a post-apocalyptic rogue on a quest to liberate fertile women from the clutches of toad mutants, but it’s especially revealing to note that this is Jackson’s most conventional film in a career of more than 30 features. Hell Comes to Frogtown, crazy though it is, is like the tip of Donald G. Jackson’s iceberg of insanity.

So, what to pair with this “after the bomb” slice of post-apocalyptic tripe? Perhaps a beer that would be quite at home in your backyard fallout shelter? Would you believe I had easy access to exactly that beer? Wild Heaven Craft Beers’ recent Atlanta sensation, Emergency Drinking Beer, fits this bill perfectly. Even the can seems like something straight out of Fallout, in a shade of Warning Announcement Yellow clearly meant to evoke exactly the sort of rations one might be consuming after frog people have conquered the Earth.

wild heaven edb.jpg

The Beer
Emergency Drinking Beer, or “EDB” for short, as it’s already known around Atlanta, is typical of its brewery in that it’s something of a chimera, a non-style combination of influences that is difficult to succinctly categorize. It’s certainly not a gose, as it’s wrongly labeled on Beer Advocate. Presumably, it gets that category because there’s a very judicious use of salt, but as with many Wild Heaven beers, the influence of the ingredient is right on the edge of periphery—if you didn’t read it was there, you probably wouldn’t notice in a measurable way.

If it was a lager, you’d probably call it some approximation of a pilsner, except the hop rate is lower. And given that EDB is made with a clean-fermenting ale yeast, “blonde ale” is probably the closest and most accurate descriptor—albeit one made with salt, lemongrass and citrus zest. Indeed, on the nose there’s a definite note of lemon zest, but also some herbal/grassy character that I could attribute to either the hops or lemongrass addition.

On the palate, this beer is driven by light, clean, crackery malt, with lemon as the secondary major note. The salinity is very slight, perhaps just adding slightly to its thirst-quenching nature. As it warms, a fruitier aspect opens up that surprised me—a sort of stone fruit-like peachiness that I’ve never picked up in this beer before. It occurs to me that in general, most Dreck & Drink columns have been paired with huge, intimidating beers. This time, the film is paired with something significantly more subtle.

The Film
In the process of watching Hell Comes to Frogtown, one viewer casually remarked that Children of Men should probably have included an “inspired by” disclaimer in its credits. That might be going a bit far, but there are similarities, sure—both films use mankind’s infertility after the apocalypse as a plot piece to set events in motion. The only difference is that where Children of Men was a tense, smart thriller about keeping a young pregnant woman safe, Hell Comes to Frogtown is about the adventures of an ultra-virile rapscallion who must knock up all the non-barren women. Somehow, this manages to reduce its gravitas by just a tad.

Piper’s character, Sam Hell, is that rapscallion, and his past and background are almost entirely murky. The film doesn’t attempt to provide a reason for why he’s the only man around not shooting blanks—not beyond him joking it’s because of “all that fiber I ate as a kid,” anyway. In reality, it barely tells us anything about Sam—not where he came from, what he’s been doing since the apocalypse, what crimes he’s been accused of or what his actual personality is like when he’s not being forced to procreate by the all-female ruling class, who see his junk as government property. At one point about 60 percent of the way through the film, he pulls out a necklace and says something about it having belong “to my daughter,” which is never mentioned again. A three-dimensional character, he ain’t.

Nor is he even really a two-dimensional character, because that would require far more dialog than he’s ever given. It’s a rather unique trait—for the “hero” of the film, Piper really has surprisingly few lines. He mostly communicates through single sentences, clearly struggling a bit to concisely get words out by talking in a slow, laconic drawl. In the WWF, the Canadian-born Piper used an inconsistent Scottish brogue as the trademark of his character. Here, the director seems to have realized that he struggled to speak deftly as a “normal” character, and chopped his dialog down accordingly, to the point where he’s only communicating in exclamations and interjections: “Now hold on!” “I don’t think so!” “Now you know how I feel!” Etc.

You might be wondering why Roddy Piper would embark on a dangerous mission to rescue wenches, besides the opportunity to potentially score, and you would be right to do so. The answer is that his genitals will be exploded if he does not comply—his female captors have strapped him into an electronic chastity belt device of sorts that can deliver electric shocks if he doesn’t obey and will detonate if forcibly removed. Observe:

roddy crotch (Custom).jpgRoddy: “How do I … you know?” Nurse: “There’s a flap.”

Naturally, this raised quite a lot of questions among my viewing group. What is the point of even risking the possibility of detonation when Sam Hell’s virility is vital to repopulation efforts? Moreover, why is he being sent on a life-and-death mission to rescue fertile women when he’s such a valuable asset? Shouldn’t they be sending expendable people while he lives like a king in whatever remains of civilization? It’s like sending a world-class neurosurgeon on an expedition into the rainforest to find rare fungi for drug manufacture, or shipping out the President of the United States as a black ops soldier to assassinate the rebel general. You don’t send your most valuable asset into the hands of the enemy!

And speaking of enemies, we should probably discuss the frog people. Yes, Frogtown is indeed filled with anthropomorphic, mutated frog men—which is to say, guys in ill-fitting costumes with very little facial articulation. I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy the eye-patched chief henchman character of Bull for this reason; his face is locked in a single, rigid expression except for the occasional flapping of his jaws up and down, ‘à la Pac-Man. It’s a great pairing with the actor’s delivery, which is to put “seemingly RANDOM emphasis on CERTAIN WORDS in each SENTENCE.” This is a frog with some serious panache:

bull frog (Custom).jpgJaunty!

The rest of the film passes in a blur. One moment, it’s Roddy Piper denying the advances of a horny frog woman, and the next there’s Sandahl Bergman doing the “dance of the three snakes” for Frogtown’s despotic ruler, Commander Toadie … who, as the name helpfully reminds you, is actually some sort of toad. Herpetologists please note: The lack of distinction between “frogs” and “toads” is sure to send you into a frothing, apoplectic rage. I recommend a mild sedative, such as a full six-pack of Emergency Drinking Beer, consumed in rapid succession.

With that said, I did learn a few things from Hell Comes to Frogtown and Roddy Piper’s positive example for children:

1. In removing a bomb-laden codpiece, your tool of choice should be a rusty chainsaw.

2. The key to popularity is to be the only man capable of procreation in any given community.

3. When in combat, never make horrifying faces, and always fight fair.


Thus concludes the life lessons of Sam Hell.

Ready for some hot, man-on-frog action? Check out the trailer for Hell Comes to Frogtown.

Prefer to wile away your post-apocalyptic eternity in a bomb shelter, sipping sessionable brews? Wild Heaven’s Emergency Drinking Beer is probably more your speed.

Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor. If he did a Dreck & Drink entry for every dead wrestler, he’d probably have enough material to keep the column going indefinitely, which is sad. You can follow him on Twitter.

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