"Frogs" Returns To Eden Gardens State Park
December 11, 2014 by Manny Chavez
The Eden Gardens State Park Vintage Film Series recently concluded with the showing of Frogs, a campy, “eco-horror” film shot at Eden Gardens State Park in 1972. A large crowd assembled with lawn chairs in hand to see the film under the stars along Tucker Bayou.
Threatening skies only added to the film’s gritty feel as the characters (starring Sam Elliott, Ray Milland, and Joan Van Ark) became the victims of numerous animal species including snakes, spiders, alligators, and of course, FROGS! The creepy critters take revenge on a snooty, upper-class Southern family whose patriarch (played by Milland) has taken to abusing the local ecology.
The film held special significance for Robert Sanders, a local who had a small part at the end of the film. He attended the showing and was introduced to the crowd by Ed Jack, a Friends of Eden State Park board member who was instrumental in bringing the film series to the park.
Robert has fond memories of his part in the film. “I was a 12-year-old 6th grader at the time going to school here at Point Washington,” explains Robert. “We had 4 kids in the 6th grade, 8 or 9 in the 5th grade, and maybe ten in the 4th grade, all of us in one classroom. Back then, our entertainment was the outdoors…we swam off the boat ramp, climbed the trees in the park, fished, all that sort of thing. When the movie started filming, we’d head on over to Eden after school to witness the activity. I kept hanging around and was lucky enough to be picked by one of the producers for my part. I only had a few lines there at the end of the movie, but they provided the perfect ending to the film.”
Eden’s Vintage Florida Film Series also included Cocoon and Creature from the Black Lagoon, both filmed in Florida. Friends of Eden president Bailey Miller and Events Chairperson Rachel Nussbaum, along with Ed Jack, are planning on making the film series an annual event, bringing in more films shot in Florida and always concluding with Frogs as the main event.
“We want to continue the series with campy, sort-of-frolic events where we encourage people to wear costumes and be part of the scene,” says Ed. “We have our large inflatable screen that we set up under Eden’s huge oaks and refreshments are sold at the event.”
The films are free with park admission ($4/vehicle). A special bonus for the Frogs showings will be a free tour (prior to the film) of the Wesley House at Eden. Event goers will then have a better feel for the movie after seeing the interior of the house where the movie was filmed.
For more information about upcoming Eden Gardens State Park evens, visit www.floridastateparks.org/edengardens. Coming up soon is the annual Christmas Candlelight Open House on Dec. 20, 2014 provided by The Friends of Eden.