EEGAH. 1962

Director: Archie Hall, Sr.
(as Nicholas Merriwether)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Eegah Aimed at a teen crowd at drive-in movies of the 1960s, this schlock horror item has a certain "time & place" ethnographic value. It has a little rock & roll, a bit of corn-pone hipster teenagerism, & a jalopy serving as dune buggy. It met its commercial needs in its day & generated a good bundle of money, though costing next to nothing to produce & as shlocky as they come.

The producer-director of Eegah (1962) was Archie Hall, Sr., the father of one of the main teen players, Archie Hall, Jr., who gets to show off his marginal singing talents & his equally marginal acting talents, since Eegah was intended to launch him into a film & music career.

He did appear in a couple more of his dad's cheapo films before quite properly giving up, & became an airline pilot & trash novelist (in this latter incarnation under the nom de plume Nicolas Merriwether). He's shown in the photo at the left in 2002 in his pilot's uniform holding up his novel.

ArchieArchie was an odd looking young fellow, but in a good way, like Michael Pollard crossed with Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy, & he might've made a better character actor than he makes a leading man, except for the problem of having no ability to act. Young Archie's mother Addalyn Pollitt also appears momentarily in the film, so this was certainly a family affair.

A girl named Roxy (Marilyn Manning), her rockin' boyfriend Tom (Archie the Younger), & her shutterbug father (Archie the Elder, credited in the cast as William Watters) head off into the desert in search of the prehistoric cave-giant whom Roxy had previously encountered along the desert road. Dad wanders off to take photographs of such thrilling sites as burnt sticks in an old campfire.

The whole thing's filmed in Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park, California, where the outdoor scenes of Bonanza & many television programs & sundry cheap films were shot. Eegah's cave can still be visited there; it was also the Batcave in the the campy 1960s Batman series.

The giant is played by Richard Kiel, best known as Lynch of The Addams Family & as pewter-toothed "Jaws" in two James Bond flicks. Here he is dressed up as the comic strip character Alley Oop complete with beard & huge club, as celebrated in the song:
"There's a man in the funny papers we all know
Alley oop oop, oop, oop oop
He lived way back a long time ago
Alley oop oop, oop, oop oop."
There's no explanation for where the cave man came from. He just happens to live alone in the desert hills in a cave in walking distance of the suburbs & he just happens to have escaped notice until these sudden encounters with civilization. He would seem to be the last of his race. He does have a an artfully mummified family living with him in his cave, who he addresses with great affection & honor, though it's even so a lonely life.

The alternate possibility is that the relics are people he previously kidnapped & kept as pets until they died & dried out in the desert air, & he's no prehistoric man at all, but a guy who went crazy & lives in a cave to escape from a world that always stares at giant guys with his medical condition.

When he encounters Roxy's dad taking pictures, he kidnaps the old coot & hauls him to the cave to ease the loneliness, moving a boulder into the cave entrance lest his new family member or pet try to get away. Soon after he finds Roxy also wandering about alone, & brings her to the cave for a family reuinion, not only with her dad but with the mummies, who she is induced to address one by one.

As the giant frequently says Eegah to his mummy family, this becomes his defacto name. Roxy gives Eegah a shave & a hair styling, which he quite enjoys, & when the beard is gone she remarks how handsome he is. He can't understand her language but it's not hard to tell she's flirting. Then she makes a gift to him of the buttons off her blouse. Understandably misreading her attentions, he tries to consummate their relationship, & all hell breaks loose.

[SPOILER ALERT] Meanwhile young Tom finds the cave. Dad & Roxy spring for the jaloppy & Eegah chases after them through the desert sands. As the car leaves the desert, Roxy looks back wistfully & sees Eegah standing on a hill. Looks like she misses him already.

Eegah returns to his cave to commiserate with his relic friends & bursts into tears. Then sniffing Roxy's discarded blouse, he picks up her scent, & walks off toward the nearby suburbs until he finds Roxy's house. She's not home so he follows her scent to a teen party, where her boyfriend's band is performing by the pool. Eegah pushes rivals in the swimming pool & picks up Roxy with the intent of carrying her back to the cave.

The police show up about then & shoot Eegah dead because he threatened them with a chair. As he floats face down in the swimming pool, we get some close-ups of the faces of other characters, by which we can see they do understand that this unhappy outcome wasn't very nice. [END SPOILER ALERT]

As truly awful films go, I think this one has a certain beatnickish charm, & it is worth seeing the first time for its own sake, & when the memory of it fades, it'd be worth seeing a second time with Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000 puppet commentary.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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