Eegah, Elvis Meets King Kong On A Low Budget

There are several sources that would have you believe that Eegah is the worst movie ever made, but it’s not even close. It’s many orders of magnitude better than films like Bat Pussy or Things. Eegah isn’t even boring, it’s fun. It’s part teen beach romp, part drive-in horror movie, part science fiction, and part Elvis romance.

The director, Arch Hall Sr. made Eegah in hopes of launching his son’s music career. His son plays Tom the young heartthrob with a shiny pompadour. Tom is in love with Roxy and tries to woo her with Elvis-inspired ballads. He always seems to have a guitar handy and his greasy hair hold’s itself aloft so as not to obscure his sad, puppy dog eyes.

Arch Hall Sr. plays Roxy’s Dad, Robert Miller, who seems to be some kind of doctor, or scientist, or researcher or something. He wears a pith helmet if that clears anything up. If he is a doctor he seems to lack any knowledge of basic anatomy. When his daughter Roxy finds him half dead in a cave he complains that he has broken his collar bone as he clutches his wrist. Then he puts his arm in a sling. Later when Roxy puts her hand on his back he winces in pain and tells her to be careful.

They all end up in the California desert being chased around by a giant caveman. Of course, cavemen were a lot smaller than modern humans, but if Hall had hired a smaller actor who would have carried around the big caveman club? They hired Richard Kiel for the job who is 7’ 2” tall. This was early in his career long before he played Jaws in Moonraker (my favorite of his roles). He pops up in the strangest places. I remember seeing him in a Taiwanese kung fu fantasy film about black magic called War Of The Wizards.

His role in Eegah is much like that of King Kong. He is big, scary and misunderstood, and impossibly in love with Roxy. Just as Faye Ray had feelings for her ape, Roxy too finds Eegah, that’s the caveman’s name, strangely compelling. There is actually quite a bit of sexual tension between the two of them. There is one scene where Eegah drags Roxy into a private part of the cave and before we can see what happens Hall cuts away to two horny toads humping in the sun. I don’t think Hall meant to imply anything. There are cutaways to desert fauna throughout the film and Roxy doesn’t seem too ruffled when we cut back.

When Roxy and her father theorize about why a giant caveman is living in California Roxy explains that the Bible mentions a time when giants walked the earth. Strangely this point is reiterated at the end of the film as if it is the key to understanding everything. They even give a citation, Genesis, Chapter 4 verse 32. I figured if it was that important I might as well look it up. The citation was wrong it’s Genesis 6:4 but it does in fact claim that there were giants, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” I don’t really know what it means but if you’re going to write a book about an invisible man in the sky who hates gay people and wants you to cut off the tip of your penis to honor him, why not throw in a few giants?

There is something else in this film that seems to be of great importance. Rockin’ Tom owns a dune buggy. One would think Tom’s mode of transport is of little importance compared to the existence of a giant caveman, but quite a bit of the film is dedicated to montages of him and Roxy toolin’ around in the sand while disjointed laughter is dubbed in over engine sounds.

The best dubbing comes when Tom plays his first two guitar numbers, mostly because the music does not involve guitars. Tom strums his guitar and outcomes some violins, a drum, and a bass. The first time he is sitting on an amp by a pool (not advisable, by the way) but the second time he is strumming an acoustic in the desert, yet miraculously a full band, sans guitar backs him up.

Besides the poolside concerts and the devil-may-care dune buggy antics, Tom does not appear to be familiar with basic gun safety. While in the desert he calls to Roxy to throw him a loaded shotgun, which he manages to catch without decapitating anyone. Later when he finds his dad wounded Tom quickly throws the shotgun down on the ground with the barrel pointed at his dad. Somebody needs to disarm that boy.

Eventually, Roxy, Tom, and Mr. Miller make it back to LA but poor lovelorn Eegah secretly follows them. Later that night Roxy is livin’ it up at another of Tom’s swinging concerts by yet another pool. Eegah stumbles in and scares everyone so someone calls the cops. Los Angeles’ Finest do what they do best and shoot and kill the unarmed Eegah. The screen fades to black and the Bible citation appears. I wonder if they ever show Eegah in Sunday school.

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