Dune buggy rocker vs. 7-foot caveman!
‘EEGAH: Special Edition’
The Film Detective
$19.99 (DVD) and $24.99 (Blu-ray)
3 hours and 46 minutes
By Mark Voger, author
“Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture”
As inept as Arch Hall Sr.‘s 1962 horror film “Eegah” is, it holds a fascination. And that fascination can be summed up in four words:
Arch Hall Jr.‘s hair.
The son of the writer-director – and star of the movie – has a pompadour best described as beguiling. It’s a cascading, swirling, bleached-blond spectacle that would make Kajagoogoo jealous, and Flock of Seagulls apoplectic. Hall Jr. plays Tom, the world’s most stylized gas station attendant, with ice-blue eyes and a face that’s been powdered into oblivion.
“Eegah” is the saga of a caveman in modern times named Eegah (Richard Kiel) who often says “Eegah!” and falls in lust with “teenage” girl Roxy (played by Marilyn Manning, who was then in her 30s).
A pristine, limited-edition, 4K restoration – by the Cinema Preservation Alliance, yet – is worth watching merely for the audacity of the release. Like, of all the movies in cinematic history to bestow this special treatment upon, they pick “Eegah”?
Plot: Speeding along at night in a canary-yellow convertible, Roxy collides with Eegah, a caveman with a ZZ Top beard weilding a huge club. No one believes her story, so Roxy’s dad Miller (Hall Sr.), a famous adventure-book author, investigates. When he fails to return, Tom and Roxy take a dune buggy into the desert to find him.
Eegah captures Roxy and carries her back to his mummy-filled cave (the same Bronson Canyon location where “Robot Monster” once lurked). Some pretty bizarre stuff goes on between Eegah and Roxy in the presence of her incapacitated father. Basically, Miller advises Roxy on how to avoid being sexually assaulted by the caveman without angering him. It’s a weird sequence in a weird film.
Tom finally locates Roxy and Miller, and the three escape via the dune buggy. But Eegah uses the scented scarf Roxy left behind to track her down to … a pool party played by Tom’s rock combo!
I’ll say no more except that “Eegah” must be the only horror film to end with a passage from the Book of Genesis.
Kiel is the 7-foot-2 actor who played metal-mouthed baddie Jaws in two 1970s James Bond movies opposite Roger Moore. Kiel also played a memorable alien on the 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode “To Serve Man,” wearing creepy bubble-head makeup by William Tuttle.
“Eegah” has a cameo by Hall Sr.’s fellow shlockmeister, Ray Dennis Steckler, the director behind – I kid you not – “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!!?” (1964).
Two companies familiar to cult-movie collectors had a hand in this 1,500-copies-only release: Something Weird and Shout! Factory.
The extras-rich disc includes an enlightening interview with Hall Jr., who has aged into a funny, laid-back dude with no illusions about the movies he made with his father. (During the interview, Hall Jr. appears to be cradling the same Fender guitar he plays in “Eegah,” now extremely worn.)
He recalls that his father moved to Hollywood in the 1930s to break into the movies, and worked in low-budget westerns. Hall Sr. tried his hand at screenwriting with “The Choppers” (1959), a hot rod flick in which he starred his son, then 15. But Hall Sr. learned that finding a distributor for “The Choppers” was unlikely without an accompanying second feature.
Hall Sr. then conceived a movie about cannibals, for which he dearly wanted to cast Kiel. When Kiel balked, Hall Sr. whipped up an idea about a caveman on the spot which caught Kiel’s interest. “Eegah” was the result.
Filming began immediately after Hall Jr. graduated high school in 1961. “The dune buggy was a death trap, really,” he said of the precariously modified vehicle used in sequences filmed in California’s Palm Desert.
Decades later, when Hall Jr. appeared at a fan convention, he found himself seated next to Joel Hodgson, the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” creator/host who brutally roasted “Eegah” in a 1993 episode. Fearing that Hall Jr. would be miffed about the “MST3K” show, Hodgson asked to be moved. But the two men spoke, hit it off, and even made some joint appearances.
Also interviewed is Hodgson, who admits that when the “MST3K” gang first “riffed” on “Eegah,” they got it wrong. Hodgson now believes they took the film, and its faults, too literally. Since meeting Hall Jr. and getting the backstory – just a father and son making the best movies they could without much resources or talent – Hodgson watches “Eegah” with a new perspective.
Driving it all home is the “Eegah” episode of “MST3K,” another bonus feature on this set. The scratchy, blurry print used in the 1993 program underscores just how beautiful the new restored print is – if any print of “Eegah” can be called beautiful.