Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Cinema Monolith: 2/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: BOMB
Released on June 8, 1962
Directed by Nicholas Merriwether (Arch Hall Sr)
Written by Bob Wehling, from a story by Arch Hall Sr
Cast: Arch Hall Jr, Marilyn Manning, Richard Kiel, William Watters (Arch Hall Sr), Bob Davis, Addalyn Pollitt, Ron Shane, Ray Dennis Steckler, Carolyn Brandt, William Lloyd, Bill Rice
Before I sat down to watch, for the second time in my life, the bad-but-masochistically-fun Eegah, I wondered if there were any caveman films out there that were ever considered exceptional by fans and critics alike. I thought about this throughout the entire movie, but in the end I couldn’t come up with an answer: Caveman, Teenage Cave Man, Cavegirl, One Million B.C., One Million Years B.C., Encino Man, and The Man Called Flintstone were all indeed caveman-themed, but not one would ever be considered anything but silly, campy, and/or dumb. And after mulling it over for all of two seconds, I decided to add Eegah to that same list.
This 1962 sci-fi/horror/fantasy/drama/musical was written and directed by former bit actor Arch Hall Sr, apparently as a springboard to greatness for his son, Arch Hall Jr, a budding actor/singer who one year earlier had made his debut in the teen delinquency film The Choppers, which was written and produced by—no surprise here—Arch Hall Sr. Now, father and son were back in action and ready to make schlock cinema history, in what is probably the most well-known and ‘appreciated’ of their six collaborative drive-in efforts together.
The film opens with a young girl named Roxy wrapping up a night of shopping in Palm Springs, then heading off in her sporty yellow convertible to a pool party a short drive away. After a quick stop to trade romantic quips with her gas attendant boyfriend Tom (played with equal parts Elvis and backwater nerd by Arch Jr), she nearly runs over a jaywalking, seven-foot-tall ‘prehistoric giant’ named Eegah, who wears traditional animal pelt garb and carries a club the size of a dinosaur leg. Tom arrives on the scene moments later, but by this time the towering Neanderthal is gone, and Roxy must convince both her boyfriend and her father that she wasn’t hallucinating.
And then things get goofy, and perhaps just a little bit…well, uncomfortable. Roxy’s father is captured by Eegah and taken to his rock canyon hideaway, and when Roxy and Tom go looking for him, Roxy is taken hostage, too. Now it’s up to our well-coiffed teenage hero to save the day…but not before Dad, Roxy, and Eegah settle in for some domestic bliss: Roxy is introduced to Eegah’s mummified family, she fawns over his cave etchings, and in the movie’s most discussed and bewildering scene, she shaves both Eegah and her incapacitated father! (In fact, the hosts of Mystery Science Theater 3000 called this sequence one of the most disgusting they’d ever seen on their show).
From there, things unravel for our simple-minded, love-hungry lunk (and I’m talking about Eegah here, not Tom), as Roxy spurns his dress-ripping advances and escapes captivity along with her father. Tom high-tails them back to civilization in his dune buggy, and a bloody and beaten Eegah is left behind as Roxy takes a last look at her dejected friend, no doubt wondering if she made a mistake sticking with Tom. At this point, you’d think the story was wrapping up, but Eegah’s not ready to part with his newfound squeeze just yet; instead, he heads into town with his trusty club and tracks Roxy down to yet another poolside bash, where he’s shot for his efforts of romantic redemption by two overzealous policemen, bringing a sudden end to our sad little saga.
Even though this was supposed to be a showcase for Arch Jr, I found myself more captivated by Marilyn Manning, who played Roxy, and by Richard Kiel, playing the title character; contrary to what I’ve read elsewhere, I thought Marilyn was quite ingratiating, and I enjoyed her portrayal of Roxy more than I expected. Kiel would later make his mark as the Bond villain Jaws, but here, with no real cavemen around to make comparisons with, I’d say he damn well nailed his portrayal, even though it consisted of nothing but grunts and cave gibberish. And as you might expect, this was the first and only directorial effort for Arch Sr, who did triple duty for Eegah by also writing the original story and playing the part of Roxy’s father; the results were adequate, but not worth writing home about.
It’s interesting, too, to hear how Eegah’s presence in modern-day Palm Springs was explained away; was he finally thawed from a block of ice, after spending centuries frozen in time, or was he somehow transported across time, thanks to some temporal rift in the space-time continuum? No, it was nothing as complex as that; as it was explained by Roxy’s father, it was the abundance of sulfur in the walls of Eegah’s cave that has kept him alive for a million years. Dad also estimated that the last of Eegah’s family died just a hundred years earlier, which prompted a more intriguing title and story idea to suddenly pop into my head: Civil War Cavemen.
Obviously, this wasn’t the greatest film ever made, nor was it the greatest caveman film ever made, but I still had fun with it, in a demented, I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing kind of way, which translates to success as far as its two-point rating is concerned. And even though there was much here to ridicule, such as the screenplay, the acting, the three plot-stopping songs by Arch Jr, the extended and pointless dune buggy sequence, and yes, the infamous “Watch out for snakes!” line, in the end it was all as harmless as a saber-toothed kitten, and at the very least offered a smidgen of entertainment for fans of low-grade cinema like me. (2/10)
You’re brave to take this one on without Joel and the bots, I salute you! 😉 I am not that brave.
You’re right, I cannot think of a single caveman movie that is good as in “gonna win an Oscar” good, not kitschy/goofy/guilty pleasure fun. Maybe it’s just impossible when the hero wears a fur dress. 😉
Thanks so much for joining the fun!
And thanks again for allowing me to be a part of the fun! I did a search for ‘caveman films’ on-line and discovered two that may considered ‘solid’, if not ‘Oscar-worthy’: Quest for Fire and Clan of the Cave Bear. I’ve not seen either, so I can only assume they’re not as schlocky as the others.
Also, I spoke with Eegah’s lawyers, and they prefer you use the term ‘bearskin smock for men’ instead of ‘fur dress’.
Eegah! is one of my “go to” episodes of MST3K when I just want to watch an episode with no theme viewing in mind. I think it’s because Eegah! is weird enough to be fun on its own.
Yeah, I’d say Eegah is definitely psychotic enough as is, without the comedic input of a guy and his spacebound robots! I do own both versions, but I have yet to watch the MST3K offering, so I guess I’ll have to correct that oversight soon. Thanks for stopping by, Michael!
Your review inspired me to watch this one and WOW. Just… the kitsch… the insanity… the uncomfortable shaving scene… I was stuck between my jaw hitting the floor and laughing uncontrollably.
Ha! That’s great that you watched it, Emily…I hope my review didn’t spoil the story too much for you! I apologize for giving away the ending…but I’m sure you saw it coming a mile away, right? Thanks for checking out my review, and just so you know, I read Nomads of the North and loved it, but I couldn’t figure out how to ‘like’ it or leave a comment!
Nah, everyone could see that Roxy preferred her pink-skinned, creepy Archie Hall Jr. to Eegah’s forward love-making methods, and we all know what happens to the lonely end of the love triangle in classic horror/sci-fi. The ending would have been better if Archie and Eegah had gotten into a fight or something. Or if an actual dinosaur showed up.
Glad to know you enjoyed the Nomads review.
By all outward appearances, Roxy did prefer Arch Jr, but what puzzled me was why: he never seemed to fully appreciate her, and when he chose to sing two songs about other women right in front of her, well, to me that was the death knell of the relationship right there. And yes, why wasn’t there a battle between Eegah and Arch Jr at the end? That would’ve made a lot more sense…as would the sudden appearance of a triceratops, which would’ve automatically boosted my rating by one point.
Come back and comment any time, Emily…and I hope to see an Eegah review on your site soon!
This looks like a treat! With a name like Eegah it was never going to be taken seriously! The best thing about films like this is they’re available in the public domain so everyone can join in the fun and as they’re often quite short you can watch two for the price of one of Cameron’s Titanic (also awful, but not for the ‘right’ reasons)
It is a treat, and you must check it out! And I have found quite a few new-to-me ‘classics’ in public domain, especially at Internet Archive, and like you said, they’re free, short, and fun; for example, Curse of the Swamp Creature, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory, and Attack of the Giant Leeches. There! I’ve just given you something to do this Saturday night! Thanks again for another visit, Victoria!
One of your best reviews ever! Your admiration for “Roxy” was a little predictable. I’ll have to see this one now to see what all the fuss is about! Thanks Todd! Looking forward to the next review.
Thanks Julie! And what did you expect, admiration for Arch Hall Jr? 😉 If you watch it, please come back and let me know what you thought! And if you do check it out, then maybe you’ll understand that my feelings towards Roxy were strictly for her skills as…oh never mind, I’ll admit it, it was because of the pool scene.
Love the fact that Richard Kiel is in this! Fun review Todd. I’ve been trying to think of a decent caveman movie but can only think of three fairly bad ones, and you’ve named them all above. Although does The Croods count? I haven’t seen it but I think it got some decent-ish reviews.
Yeah, it’s funny seeing Kiel so young, and without titanium teeth…but what caught my eye about him was the size of his hands! If you end up watching this, check out the ‘forced romance’ scene outside the cave, where he’s manhandling Roxy…he could’ve crushed her with those things without a second thought!
And if I can include The Man Called Flintstone on the caveman movie list, I think it’s only fair that I allow you to throw The Croods into the mix as well…but I haven’t seen that one either, so I have no idea where to classify it on the good/bad scale. And I don’t think I’ll give myself that opportunity anytime soon.
Jaws!? Random. So this is good yeah?
Well, if you mean ‘good’ as in ‘quality’, then I’d say not quite. But if you enjoy bad movies because they’re so bad they’re fun, then yes, you should definitely check this out. I mean, it’s no Silver Linings Playbook, but I’d say give it a shot anyway.
And it’s funny, when you mentioned Jaws, I was thinking, wait, where did I make a shark movie reference? I actually had to go back and read the review AND the comments to see what you were referring to! I guess we both have looks but no brains!
You sold me! There’s nothing like “cinema schlock” and “well coiffed” characters to entice a movie-goer like me. Besides, what’s not to love about a caveman movie? Thanks for introducing me to another movie I’ve never even heard of before!
Glad I could open a new door for you…I just hope you don’t regret stepping through it (or in it, depending on your taste in bad movies!). Hopefully I’ll see a review for this one pop up over at your site soon.